Whole Being  —  Passionate as compared to Charged

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Whole Being

Pas­sion­ate as com­pared to charged  —  Charge is uncon­trolled excite­ment. It’s unfo­cussed and burns hot… for a moment. Pas­sion is step­ping into the cool riv­er of engagement

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As we reach the last of the com­par­i­son arti­cles, let me say that my inten­tion has been to point to the dif­fer­ences between ways of being. I’m not par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in declar­ing one side of each dichoto­my to be “bet­ter” than the other.

I merely want to suggest that a more well rounded, fully functioning way of being requires choosing

Ben Wong and Jock McK­een made much of sim­i­lar par­al­lels in their book, The NEW Man­u­al for Life. It is to them I owe our present dis­cus­sion  —  between pas­sion and charge.

They wrote that charge was what new rela­tion­ship sex felt like. It’s the “I’m about to blow a gas­ket” feel­ing of unbound­ed, enact­ed lust.

They state that charge can’t real­ly last over time, because charge requires that we objec­tivize the oth­er person. 

As rela­tion­ships mature, objec­ti­fi­ca­tion is hard­er and hard­er to main­tain, sim­ply because the “oth­er” becomes a flesh-and-blood per­son for us.

We see them sub­jec­tive­ly  —  as a par­son, not an object  —  and there goes the charge.

They sug­gest that game or role play­ing is prob­a­bly the only way to keep a ver­sion of charge alive in a long-term relationship.

I remem­ber one cou­ple Dar­bel­la and I were friends with. The guy loved to talk about his high­ly charged sex life. After a few years, though, he was get­ting bored. 

The next thing we knew, his wife had “got­ten a boob job” just for him. Amus­ing­ly (?) she ini­tial­ly agreed to a slight increase. He pres­sured her into quite the pair.

Then, he sent me pho­to of her in an, “I want to be a Hot Wife” tee-shirt.

I Googled the tee-shirt sen­tence. Turns out, in that con­text, a “hot wife” is:

…a mar­ried woman who has sex­u­al rela­tion­ships out­side of her mar­riage, with the full knowl­edge and con­sent of her hus­band, who him­self doesn’t have affairs.

Her wear­ing that tee-shirt rang false, espe­cial­ly after she and I had a talk, and she let me know exact­ly how much she was “doing it for him.” (My issue here, to be clear, is just that. She was doing all of this stuff to keep him from leav­ing. He was doing it so he could feel charge. Had she been into it, I’d have had no issue.)

That’s the way things go in chargy relationships. Passion, on the other hand, runs a lot deeper.

Charge is nei­ther good, nor bad. Charge is about both sex­u­al excite­ment and “life excite­ment”  —  charge is a reac­tion to some­thing exter­nal. Charge, then, requires (exter­nal) field depen­dence. It’s big, bold, and short-lived.

It’s external gratification for the sake of the hit, the blast, the feeling.

Pas­sion is nei­ther good, nor bad. Pas­sion devel­ops out of a heart-felt need to express one­self. To act with pas­sion is to act with con­vic­tion, with knowl­edge and with pur­pose and direc­tion. It’s inter­nal­ly gen­er­at­ed and thus not field dependent.

Passion is a feeling of wholeness that comes from fully expressing oneself  —  being open and revealing of one’s self  —  through whatever means or media one chooses.

Our soci­ety in gen­er­al rev­els in charge, not as a fun thing to do occa­sion­al­ly, but as a lifestyle. Adver­tis­ing is all about cre­at­ing charge and then telling us what to buy so that we can par­tic­i­pate in the charge.

Charge pro­motes instan­ta­neous grat­i­fi­ca­tion, and dilet­tan­tism  —  as peo­ple con­stant­ly flit from this to that to anoth­er thing, nev­er set­tling  —  and then hav­ing the audac­i­ty to say that they are doing it because they are a “free spirit.”

It’s happening all around us, as people put externals ahead of self knowing.

To sug­gest that a charged lifestyle is self and soul destroy­ing is to risk the wrath of the mass­es, because charge is all they have. Or as Ayn Rand wrote,

Ask any­thing of men. Ask them to achieve wealth, fame, love, bru­tal­i­ty, mur­der, self-sac­ri­fice, but don’t ask them to achieve self-respect. They will hate your soul.

Charge has its place. Some­times, we want to let our hair down, to bungee jump, to get laid… to just let it all hang out. What we need to under­stand, though, is that charge is not very deep. It’s skin level.

The error in think­ing is to equate char­gy acts with true free­dom. Charge-focussed liv­ing is liv­ing a life dis­con­nect­ed from the depths of self.

Passion, on the other hand, is cultivated like a fine wine.

I heard a line once:

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.

Passion, like mastery, takes time.

Some peo­ple think I’m a pret­ty good writer. While I have a cer­tain “born with it” gift, I also prac­tice  —  I write all the time. If some­one asks me to teach them to write, I say what my teach­ers in High School said to me. 

Write. Write. Rewrite. We’ll talk again in 20 years.”

As I look back at my writ­ing, I see the seeds of my thought today. There is a con­sis­ten­cy in my voca­tion­al world­view that stretch­es back to the 60s  —  to High School. 

Which is not to say that I haven’t changed my views. Well, maybe it is. Refined my views is clos­er to the truth.

Same thing with my paint­ings and pho­tographs. The seeds of my work today stretch back 5 decades. 

I can see the refine­ments in my tech­nique, but the core sen­si­bil­i­ty is there… it’s been honed by actu­al­ly paint­ing, actu­al­ly tak­ing photos.

I write, I make art, and I live my life the way I do, not for show or approval, but because this is who I am. 

I don’t make things. I build ideas. It’s my pas­sion and my vocation.

I have been judged to be wrong, to not be “under­stand­ing enough,” to be “too tough to be friends with.” 

That’s OK. I can either choose to accom­mo­date myself to oth­ers (gain­ing the charge that comes from being “loved”  —  as in “approved of,”) or choose to live my life passionately.

I choose the latter  —  to deepen my understanding and my vocation, one day at a time.

I still choose to have char­gy moments as a coun­ter­point to a life of pas­sion. Charge is fun, no ques­tion. It just seems, to me, to be quite lim­it­ed as a life choice.

  • Pas­sion changes the world. Charge cre­ates a sweat.
  • Pas­sion opens one to new vis­tas. Charge clos­es doors to keep the charge going.
  • Pas­sion is life long and life affirm­ing. Charge often wears off the next morning.
  • Pas­sion is about deeply reveal­ing one­self in one’s actions. Charge is about cre­at­ing an illu­sion in order to manip­u­late some­one into help­ing you get off.
  • Pas­sion is about free­dom. Charge is about control.
  • Pas­sion has its home in the soul, charge in the genitals.

Each has its place.


  • Pas­sion cre­ates new­ness. Charge regur­gi­tates what has been before.
  • Pas­sion is the wind in the sails. Charge is a per­son being dragged along for the ride, scream­ing “Yahoo!” and think­ing she is the wind.
  • Pas­sion is built on rock. Charge is built on sand.
  • Pas­sion is lived in each moment, from the depths. Charge flits from one thing to anoth­er, nev­er land­ing nor tak­ing root.
  • Pas­sion is about per­son­al integri­ty. Charge is about get­ting off on externals.
  • Pas­sion is open­ness and vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty. Charge is keep­ing secrets about who you are and what you’re doing.
  • Pas­sion is focussed. Charge is scattered.

You get the point.

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