On Reason and Passion

I’ve been experiencing this unshakable desire to share with you a passage from a book that I absolutely love, which I take to mean as someone somewhere might benefit from my sharing somehow. Not only do I love this passage, and let’s ignore the fact that it’s written beautifully; the more important aspect of it, is that it’s a piece that speaks of who I am. Says something about what makes me, well, me; a part of me I previously wasn’t able to explain very well until I read this particular passage, in what is a profoundly powerful book, while in college many years ago. One that resonated so loudly in my soul, I thought I would explode with the light of self-knowledge. (I tend to wax poetic when it comes to this, so bear with me–I actually remember having a smile and being on a high that lasted for days. And no, I wasn’t on any substances. 😛 ) This particular passage also happens to coincide with an upcoming bit of ink I’ll be getting (hopefully over the summer); I just need to determine the where.

For many, many years, I walked the path that was laid in front of me. Played the cards I was dealt in life instead of discarding and drawing new ones. I was getting bogged down in trying to lead two vastly different lives: one trying to be authentic, one trying to be who I thought I should be based on the ideals of others. I was trying to be instead of just being. My psyche was screaming inside a glass house, and I didn’t know how to break the walls.

As with many, so often I am able to connect to the words of others in finding resolutions within myself. That one particular summer in college, that very thing happened. Two books changed everything for me and life? Well, call it kismet but not long after reading those books, life dealt me a new card and put me on a new path; my path. Like a butterfly erupting from it’s cocoon, I finally felt like I was figuring out I had wings and could fly. I got my first tattoo not long after, and despite its cliche location and image, my first ink meant a great deal more to me than just decorating my body. It was evidence of my growth into my authentic self. It also awakened my love of getting ink, and while I only have two (for various reasons, and not for much longer), they are both extremely well thought out pieces which carry great meaning. I got them for me, and no one else.

Since then, I’ve wavered on my path both purposefully and without intent. I made the choices and decisions that led me to places I wouldn’t have otherwise decided to go, but many decisions were the result of having lost myself; they were not mistakes because I learned a great deal from them. My reason and my passion were simply out of balance; where I overlooked one aspect of myself, I let the other lead for too long. Now, I’ve found my balance again, and I’m working diligently to keep it. I’m discarding the unusable cards and drawing again to keep true to who I am and what I want in life. Despite what others may think, feel, or believe about me. Because it’s my life. Not theirs.

I mentioned two books–both philosophical in nature, though one is more esoterically psychological, the other more spiritually poetic–however, I’m only referring to one particular passage from one of those books in this post. If you want to know the other, just ask. I’ll gladly tell you about it. The passage I’ll be sharing below is from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. It’s a book I’ll never tire of reading, or sharing. (As an aside, I’m not religious. Not really spiritual in the sense of popular standards. But I subscribe to my own beliefs which may or may not fall into any number–or none at all–of categorical boxes. The Prophet references God in verse, but I choose to take that reference not in any particular religious context other than my own personal interpretation. I offer that when you read it, you do the same. Just as my kink is not yours, nor yours mine, neither are our definitions of God or gods similar to each other.

And maybe with this post I’m sharing a little too much of myself, of who I am, what makes me tick…but sharing of ourselves is how we connect. Without connections to each other, we’re no more human than the AIs being developed.

Here’s the passage of which I’ve been going on about. I hope you enjoy it.
~deidre

And the priestess spoke again and said: Speak to us of Reason and Passion.
And he answered, saying:
Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgement wage war against your passion and your appetite.
Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody.
But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?

Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.
If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.
For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.
Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing;
And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.

I would have you consider your judgement and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house.
Surely you would not honour one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and faith of both.

Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows–then let your heart say in silence, “God rests in reason.”
And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightening proclaim the majesty of the sky,–then let your heart say in awe, “God moves in passion.”
And since you are a breath in God’s sphere, and a leaf in God’s forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion.

The Prophet was originally published in 1923, and has since been in hardback publication into over 40 languages. You can find the full text on several open sites dedicated to the sharing of public domain works, like here at Project Gutenberg Australia.

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