From Passion to Zeal
Passion is often mentioned in today's writing and we see it referenced in regard to new relationships, rekindling of old relationships, and even to involvement with a cause or career. But since it is the Month of Love, let's eliminate all the other potential applications to passion and direct our attention solely to relationships.
The other day a friend of mine was speaking candidly to me about her husband and their relationship in and out of the bedroom. "He's a bore. In everyday life he is boring and in the bedroom he is even worse. It doesn't matter what I do spice things up, our life is without passion!"
This got me thinking about the word "passion" and what it really means for people in everyday life. First off, I don't think passion exists. Not really. It is a fleeting emotion that is nothing but a blip in a respective love life. For all of our fascination with the sexiness of the word, it does more to complicate real love than it does to help it. Now before the hate mail starts pouring in on how I have this wrong, let me explain what I mean.
Passion. We have been spoon fed Hollywood's vision of passion for so long that that is what we think it should be and we are truly disappointed when our own relationships don't stack up so nicely against that image. But passion is a strong, barely controllable emotion that in my experience resembles, to put it crudely, to chasing the dragon. You are always trying to achieve a feeling you had that "first time" with your lover and the only way to experience it again is unfortunately with a new lover.
So the natural consequence of a solid relationship is the loss of that passion to that of the familiarity which naturally comes with knowing a person, creating a solid foundation, a friendship and everything else that comes with a strong and long-lasting relationship. And it can be a great trade off! But that is not to imply, however, that love and sex in the relationship can't be fantastic, that you can't look at your significant other and still get turned on, appreciate their beauty, rekindle a waning love life, etc., but the passion you felt the first time you two "got together" can never be fully recreated.
Let me give you an example. Twenty-five years ago I worked with a woman who was a nymphomaniac and up until that point in time I thought I knew what a "nympho" was. Trust me. If you have to think about it, you don't. When you meet someone who is you'll know it immediately. So let me lay the foundation for you.
This friend and I went to lunch, we ate, and somewhere between the front door and the car I had lost her. I searched and found her. In a bathroom stall having shall we say, intimate relations with a patron she thought was handsome. This happened every time we went to lunch. The only things that changed were the guys she picked up and the creative locations with which she had sex with them. I once went with her to a photo shoot. She wasn't a model; she was getting boudoir photos taken for her husband. (Yes I said husband. She had one she purported to love immensely and she also had three children.) Before we left she had sex with the photographer in his darkroom.
She had sex with the parking garage attendant in his booth. She had sex with the bag boy (man) at the grocery around the side of the building. She had sex with a sales attendant in a Nordstrom's fitting room. Come to think of it she also did it in J.C. Penny's and Diamonds fitting rooms as well. The list goes on and on and these were just the limited places we went together over a period of about two years.
When I asked her why she did it, especially in light of the fact that she said she was happily married and the sex was good? Her answer, which I have never forgotten: "I like sex of course and there is nothing like the thrill of being with a person that first time. The raw uncomplicated passion is addictive." It's not too dissimilar to the addiction to drugs where a person becomes addicted trying to chase the dragon to achieve the same high they received the first time they did it. Of course, that can never happen either.
I think it is reasonable and achievable to have a great sex life throughout a long marriage, but as good as that sounds it will not be with the same passion that drove us into ecstasy the first time we "did it". Life complicates matters. For example, you have a new marriage, work, babies, and kids leaving home, even retirement. Real life has a way of tampering the passion but love can move with the ebbs and flows.
I suspect the idea of carrying around a pouch full of condoms and having sex with every person you meet sounds terrible to a lot of people but reviving an already good relationship and making it fantastic sounds great. So I thought about a word that could adequately describe a relationship that has endured its ups and downs more realistically than "Passion". I came up with "ZEAL".
Zeal. Read its definition - "great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective." And now I have to ask you, do you want to continuously chase passion or do you want to search for a love interest where you can indulge real zeal a.k.a. indulge great energy and robust enthusiasm in the pursuit of gratifying self-indulgent, continuing and sustainable love?