A LETTER TO THE PASSIONATE SOULS
If I were to sum up my message in one sentence, it would be this: There is nothing wrong with you. Not only that, you are an extraordinary, unusually sensitive and courageous soul.
In our society, the norm is to try and cover up our deep-rooted existential anxiety by means of numbing. When things get too much, it is in our human nature to want to want to close our eyes and pretend that nothing is happening. Many people have settled to dull their mind through engaging in mindless activities or consuming short-lived pleasure. Passionless life is chosen because it feels, even just superficially, easier and more secure.
According to philosopher Jasper, this is how most people live their lives:
‘We forget that we must die, forget our guilt, and forget that we are at the mercy of chance,’ ‘In our day-to-day lives we often evade them, by closing our eyes and living as if they did not exist.’ (Jasper 1951 p.20)’
However, those who were born with a sensitive and perceptive soul struggle to do that. It is not that you try to be different, or pretend that you are special, but you simply cannot shut down your natural ability to see and feel so much.
Perhaps like Jasper, you ‘fail’ to numb yourself to the harshness and darkness side of reality:
‘ The ultimate situations— death, chance, guilt and the uncertainty of the world— confront me with the reality of failure. What do I do in the face of this absolute failure, which if I am honest I cannot fail to recognise? (Jasper, 1952, p. 22) '
Your sensitivity makes it hard for you to fit into the ordinary, hypocritical aspects of this world. This is because you possess a special kind of awareness to the truth, to injustice, to suffering, and to the painstakingly beautiful things. You may have been described as having keen intelligence, and unbounded perceptivity; You may have been called or feel like an old soul. Your sentimental nature means you are always pondering the transient nature of all things beautiful, and plagued by an intangible feeling of divine homesickness.
Even when others don’t see it, and you have not yet recognised it, it actually takes a tremendous amount of courage to be you! In fact, may I suggest that you are born a warrior of life, the protagonist of a Hero’s Journey into your authentic self?
You see, passionate engagement with life is not an easy path, and it is a path less travelled by. The word passion comes from the Latin verb patio, which means to suffer and to endure. Passionate living entails a kind of openness where you are being exposed to the up and downs, gain and loss, pleasure and pain in life. When you choose to walk the path of passion, you commit yourself to come face to face with the bare bone of reality- including its embedded challenges and uncertainties, even when they pain you, trouble you, and tire you out.
You may feel that you have no other option than to take life seriously, and you aspire to live fully, intensely, with full presence and passion. Even when it hurts, the intense and gifted soul inside you stubbornly refuses to be diluted for her infinite zest for life, and wants to embrace it all, with wide open eyes. Perhaps deep down you know that in the end, the joy and aliveness you will experience is in direct proportion to the suffering you can endure. In the end, without sensitivity what would life be? It is this part of you that has given your life so much colour and meaning. Although it is a source of both ecstasy and terror, it is also the source of all that is precious and memorable.
Your love for life itself is the most powerful when you can combine it with your ability to see beauty and make intellectual or creative linkages. This is what artists and poets have done all their lives across history. Sadly, though, historically and up until today, those with visionary or insightful qualities are also deemed mad, pathological, and schizophrenic by the world.
In order to channel your natural gifts into an artistic or productive output, you must first build a healthy relationship with your intensity. To do this, it is critical that you do not collapse into the trap of pathology. Rather than being overwhelmed, oppressed and isolated by your sensitivity, you use it to create structure and meaning, to find your tribe, and ultimately, to actualise your fullest self.
We can liken your unusual life path to that of a shamanic initiation— in a way, you have been initiated to bring passion and truth back into our collective psyche. By nature, you are the pioneers of the world: you are the questioners and the progressives whose role in the world is to bring forth the realities which others do not yet see or understand. You can deny it, fight it, but in the end you would not be able to deny or suppress your unique insights and perspectives. Although you might not have chosen this path, it is your path.
Not being able to own your gifts and be authentic about your true nature keep you in hiding and holds you back from bringing your gifts into the world. Such act deprives not only you but also the progression of our collective consciousness. Your sensitivity and intensity are the doorways to your fullest potential, and you are not serving the world by playing small.
Once you have embraced your sensitivity, intensity and giftedness, you will realise that all along it is leading you to your own freedom and peace. You will realise that you have no other choice than to yield to what has been given to you. You will experience unspeakable peace by surrendering to what seems true to you. You can finally stop fighting, stop trying to pretend to be who you are not, or to suppress and hide your sensitive and intense nature. In the chapters to come we will return to talking about how you can gradually yield to your path, and the importance of authentic living.
For now, I will leave you with this quote from Herman Hesse, and I wish you well on your utterly precious and heroic journey:
“We who bore the mark might well be considered by the rest of the world as strange, even as insane and dangerous. We had awoken, or were awakening, and we were striving for an ever perfect state of wakefulness, whereas the ambition and quest for happiness of the others consisted of linking their opinions, ideals, and duties, their life and happiness, ever more closely with those of the herd. ‘