Passion Versus Peace

In the midst of life’s challenges and desires, there is always a subtle pressure to seek and do more whether we are aware of it or not. If people stopped doing things, what would happen to the world? Let me rephrase that – what if people stopped doing negative and destructive things and replaced them with positive acts and deeds? Good news instead of bad news. I think a lot of the choices we have and end up making in life depend on the quality and focus of our intention – what do we intend to happen?

Feeling restless and discontent is something I really don’t like feeling. I am not a person who finds it easy to settle down. I always have to be running around, doing new things and challenging myself. ‘This is too easy, I’ve conquered this, I need a new challenge, what can I do now?’

Is ‘easy’ a bad thing or does it simply mean we are not trying hard enough or pushing ourselves in the way we should? Perhaps we have all learned to fight contentment as it could mean we have nothing left to strive for, no more goals on the horizon. When people ask me what I’m passionate about, I don’t know what to say. I love life, I enjoy learning and exploring everything it has to offer but I don’t have this fervent desire brooding inside of me that seems to be needed to achieve things.

In a world where we all have to be passionate and driven to do well, is it any wonder we all feel restless and constantly worn out? Feeling and experiencing passion is amazing though. It really gives us the determination to succeed at what we do. The only problem is – it burns out very quickly sometimes. Rather than being passionate about what you do, I think it is better to love what you do instead.

Life seldom works out the way you thought it would. Plans and dreams tend to waver off course, just like a meandering river, the journey of life carries us through the choices we make. There is only the destination we choose for ourselves which means – life is in our hands. There is energy behind the flow of the river. If we combine our energy with a focused intention, we find more often than not that we will be able to achieve what we want. But that’s just it – what do we want?

Desire, lust and passion are intensely seductive and they have the power to consume and destroy. You can be enslaved by your desires and ultimately destroyed by them. Look at any addiction. (Watch Star Wars). It is filled with Zen wisdom! I don’t know what I prefer really. To be peaceful and content or to be passionate and driven. All I know is – I cannot have both. Perhaps we all go through phases where we prefer one over the other.

Love stands the test of time. Look at successful relationships for example – if love is the foundation, you will go the distance. Building a relationship on passion in life is like trying to build a house on a stormy sea. It just doesn’t work. The waves are turbulent, volatile and guaranteed to throw you all over the place. In a relationship, it may be exciting for a while but the excitement is eventually overtaken by exhaustion and tiredness as you try desperately to hold on to the passion which is energy – energy cannot be restrained. It changes from moment to moment. You cannot hold onto to it.

If there is anything in life we could say is certain is that nothing ever stays the same for long. Even if it does, eventually things will change. It is the nature of the world we live in. People come and go. Lives change and people grow. Surely to stand still is to stagnate? Like everything in life, it depends on how you look at things. If you feel stuck, perhaps it is all do with luck….

‘I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.’

(Ecclesiastes 9:11)

This says it all. So much in this world is uncertain even if we do plan things. Life can give you a hand that you didn’t expect. Time and chance have their role to play. Chances come and risks can be taken but you can still never know what lies ahead of you if you do take that leap and if you don’t. To me, contentment, happiness and peace are the main goals of life. What you want may not always be what you find. It could be better or worse than you originally intended depending on how you look at things. Are we all simply just ‘putting up’ with things and settling for less than we deserve in life or are we actually happy? Now that is a tricky one…

I’m going to go with peace.

Christina McDonald 2014.

Persian Cuisine – here I go!

I’ve just bought a Persian Cuisine cookery book! I was thinking about the food I really do enjoy eating and I thought I would enjoy making it in equal measure. The recipes are delicious and too tempting for words.

I think what attracted me to Persian food (still being a total beginner as a cook) were some of the ingredients used in the cooking – saffron, pistachios, cardamom, rose water, lime, etc…simply delicious! I don’t think I have felt this positive about cooking food in a long time so I feel I am finally on the right track. I once had a boyfriend years ago now who used to spoil me with some of the most amazing Persian food and dining when we were in the throes of our new relationship together so even that could be influencing my decision – is there anything more nostalgic than food?

Interesting, sensually appealing, exotic and so appetising! What’s there not to like? It is interesting and different and that’s what I’m looking for.

I will ease myself in gradually with something simple to start with! One step at a time. In all honesty, I don’t understand why it has taken me this long to become so interested in preparing something like this – tiredness, stress and empty excuses I think – no more of that! If you find something you’re passionate about doing, then the rest doesn’t matter – you make room to pursue it if your heart is in it.

I want to use recipe books as a guideline for now but I hope one day soon that I will be able to make dishes by simply following my intuition as to what I feel would work well together. I am sure there will be some interesting combinations selected along the way (and the occasional slip up – ahem!)

Nothing ventured, nothing gained! I’ll try my hand at my own creations soon and let you know how I get on but for now I have a great incentive which will hopefully inspire my creativity in the kitchen.

© Christina McDonald 2014

Passion and creation….

So..many….reality. …tv….shows. I think we are living in some kind of weird existence where life stops and an imitation of life begins. Reality tv versus the reality of life itself…..

Of course, by now we are all familiar with shows like ‘The X factor’ and ‘The Voice’. I am all for people going for their dreams. I cannot help but feel the people auditioning for these shows are missing something vitally important.

The auditions I’ve noticed are always very emotional, tense and fraught with what comes across as impassioned desperation. The goal-to be noticed, to be free from a hum-dum existence, from being a 9-5 drone. The promise of a glittering future in lights, glamour and celebrity. Wonderful stuff obviously if that’s your goal.

Most of the candidates interviewd seem really unhappy and disatisfied with their situation and themselves. ‘I want a better life.’ Fine…but what’s wrong with the life you have at the moment? It all seems to be about the fame. We can fulfil our potential in other ways that don’t require us be on a reality tv show. It isn’t the ‘be all and end all’. And if it is – you are on the road to misery if you ‘fail’.

The artistry and music seems to be of little importance. Having a strong voice and a personality that can be moulded and shaped to the music industry requirements is of the utmost importance. Great talent seems to amount to having a strong vocal, important of course but certainly not the be all and end all when it comes to being a musician.

Those who audition sing passionately and they go for it, that’s clear. What is missing for me is that pop musicians today do not seem to create music with an equal degree of passion.

As far as I’m concerned, real artistry doesn’t get a look in really. It’s all about who follows you, who supports you, are you popular, likable, charismatic, cute, funny, etc. Since when has that become a substitute for being an actual artist? Being a musician myself, I know that it is important to be appreciated (but for the music only).

I remember being taught years ago by musicicans who could only be described as absolute tyrants. They were amazing artists though. Likability wasn’t an issue – the music was always the priority. They didn’t care if they were liked at all really! People still listened to their music.

Most of the songs that are top of the charts today – I can’t remember them 6 months to a year later. And that’s not for want of trying for the musicians of today. There is a certain essence missing. An aspect of a creative spirit that simply isn’t there to me. Bring back Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac and Jimi Hendrix…please….

Music today has little originality unlesss you are actually pouring yourself into it. Your feeling, your experiences, your life. It should be all about you (but in a way that brings out the artist in you, not the celebrity in you). Songs that stand the test of time are those that have real feeling and depth. They come from a place in you that needs expression.

Music is a soulful experience. You ain’t a musician until you’re living it fully!

© Christina McDonald 2014

Secrets

I have a close friend who recently told me she had an affair. Nothing really surprises me when I hear things like this. Perhaps I have become too cynical. She seemed tired, drained and lost as to what she should do to make things better.

Sitting in a tiny coffee shop in Soho, Central London, I tried to comfort her but my words seemed to resound off some kind of emotional air-bag. Nothing I could say could change anything. I don’t think she could make sense of anything anymore.

Happily married (or at least what seemed to be) with a wonderful husband and two gorgeous children, I asked her why she did it. She didn’t know. All she kept saying to me was that ‘she needed to escape from things. Steven and I have being having problems,’ Lord knows I understand that feeling. Welcome to marriage!

I could see that she wasn’t happy at all. That was clear. Extra-marital affairs happen so frequently and I believe they are a symptom of living a life that has lost meaning somehow. We start searching for a spark, some kind of exciting realisation that reminds us we are alive and still able to feel.

The problem with having an affair is that we end up feeling more than just passion. What can often follow in the destructive aftermath is pain, fear, confusion, abandonment, emptiness and loss. Is it really worth it? I asked my friend if she had any feelings at all for the man she had being seeing and she said ‘not really. I’m just unhappy in myself.’

When the passion has burned out, what is left? Sex is sex. It’s great at the time. It can certainly masquerade itself as love with all the trimmings. That is the illusion. Love and passion are related but like siblings, they have similarities but are very different to one another.

How to tell the difference?

Passion is all consuming, It makes you feel exhilarated, alive, vibrant and on top of the world. Love is actually quite a calm feeling, It makes you feel happy, peaceful and content. It has a sense of completeness like nothing else. It is easy to forget the true bliss of being happily in love, Washing dishes, ironing clothes and running errands to the supermarket is not something that reminds us how lucky and happy we are.

Passion is like a wave crashing against the shore. Powerful, intense, full of energy – aliveness. The waves don’t last all the time though. There is ebb and flow, change and continual movement. There is no stability and no prediction. Everything is uncertain at sea.

My friend was certainly lost at sea and looking for a lifeboat. All I could do was offer reassurance with the classic line ‘things will get better.’ I hate saying that. How do I know things will get better for her? I don’t, but I can only offer her some comfort.

At this risk of sounding totally cliche, I have to admit that things usually do get better in the end. “Time heals all wounds” and all that stuff. Somehow, things eventually end up making sense when the time is right.

© Christina McDonald 2014