Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Love, Heat and Passion

It has been said that the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. Upon first hearing this, many people think that this cannot be correct. After all, love and hate would seem to be the two opposites. But there is a lot of energy in these two. Ray Bradbury, the great science fiction author, notes in Zen and the Art of Writing that there is as much zest in what you hate as in what you love, and either can produce enough energy to inspire great stories and great writing. Deep feelings from any perspective can breathe life into a point of view. Powerful reserves of feelings can animate and illuminate.

Now it is easy for us to recognize the passion in a relationship expressed as energetic lovemaking, romantic interludes and excited playfulness, but there is another side to that same source of energy. It is the dark side of romantic love that often finds expression in words that lead to regret, and the regret, in turn, becomes surrender.

Doesn't that often seem the case with couples who have mercurial relationships but stay together? They still have a lot of energy and they still care deeply. They care enough about each other to express deeply felt emotions. On the surface that may seem contradictory, but think about it for a moment. Two people may have very different opinions on a subject or very different concerns over an issue, but they still care enough to get excited, frustrated or angry and that forms the basic energy from which they argue. And isn't it true that often after a heated disagreement that the couple makes up, forgives each other and reconciles with passionate lovemaking?

So I am not saying that anger, arguing, and heated disagreements are desirable states, or things to be admired. What I am saying is that in a deeply felt relationship, there will be disagreements, heated discussions and flare ups. People in passionate relationships feel emotions deeply and they express them. And both parties in a relationship can take turns being right and being wrong.

Energy can be transmuted. Anger can become affection and affection can become anger. And the shifting between them can melt opposition. These change when a person is able to shift their frame of reference to view their emotions through a different perspective and they can feel the emotions expressing differently. How else do people calm down when they are expressing too much energy and going off on wild tangents?

Although the idealist in us would advocate for the peaceful discussion and resolution of all differences, with couples easily agreeing on solutions, the rise and fall of passions will preclude that from always being the case.

Strange as it may seem, it is the cool end of the spectrum that finally signals the end of a relationship. When one or both of the parties no longer cares enough to even disagree, they are indifferent to making love, and they can just walk away, then they are withdrawing their energy so completely from the relationship that there is nothing left. Nothing left to fight over, nothing left to debate or discuss, nothing left to love, no care, no compassion, no kindness, no tenderness, no excitement. Just nothing.

When one partner can actually say to the other partner that they do not care what happens to them, then the relationship has been drained of all life.

Just as the presence or absence of our body heat is a sign of life, when the body of love cools below the level of warmth, it is a sure sign that life is gone and that the love, heat and passion that once electrified the space between the two people has lost all of its vitality, that is indifference, the opposite of love. When nothing is left to flare up, nothing is left to heal, no excitement is left in the loving, and neither cares to even discuss it, then the body of love has cooled below the temperature necessary for life.

The passion, heat, and love in a relationship are its breath, pulse, and heartbeat. Without them, there is nothing.

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