Add as bookmark

Fuelled by Passion

by Beata Bishop(more info)

listed in holistic psychotherapy, originally published in issue 145 - March 2008

Everything my client was planning to do sounded excellent: she was going to replant her window boxes, give away unwanted clothes, break her addiction to mail order catalogues and go to yoga classes. “That’s a good programme,” I said, “and when are you going to start?”

“When I have more energy,” she answered, looking vague. “Right now I don’t have any.” And at this rate, I thought, you won’t have any for a long time, because you’ve got things the wrong way round.

The right order is that energy follows thought; clear, purposeful thought, not just a vague wish, leads straight to action. However small the initial action is, as long as it breaks the shell of passive waiting, lethargy and procrastination, it will open the way to an influx of energy. Of course there is real exhaustion caused by mental overwork or physical exertion, to which the correct answer is total rest. And living on junk foods and fizzy drinks is enough to make one limp (and possibly fat). But more often than not, the weariness, unjustified fatigue and low energy people complain about doesn’t have purely physical causes: what’s behind them is the lack of anything new, inspiring or challenging from one’s daily life, which has become too predictable and, well, plain boring, like an eternally overcast grey day. Routine protects us from chaos; unfortunately it also deadens initiative, curiosity, the urge to step out of line and be different. Little wonder energy is low and any action beyond the strictly necessary seems too much. Trying to change things won’t do. “Trying is lying” claims a Native American saying, somewhat unkindly but accurately, since just to try implies the possibility of failure, and to start out like that is not good enough.

Yes, energy follows thought and is fuelled by passion, the passionate urge to do, create and achieve. It can even protect health and extend life. Consider the unusually long lives of some of the last century’s most outstanding figures, who remained creative right to the end: Picasso lived to be 92, Verdi 88, Carl Jung died at 86, and Pablo Casals, the great cellist and conductor lived to be 97. Even when he was very frail and weak, as soon as he was handed his cello he perked up, and played as superbly as ever. Or take Henri Matisse, the brilliant French painter: when arthritis crippled his hands, he had his paint brushes tied to his useless fingers and went on painting, and later, seriously ill, worked in bed until the day he died aged 85. The British philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell lived to be 97; Mother Teresa made it to 87. Vastly different though they all were, especially the atheistic philosopher and the deeply religious nun, what they had in common was their passionate dedication to their vocation and creativity, which supplied them with enough energy to work even when their bodies were giving out.

Now of course compared to these giants we are pretty small fry. Yet the principle that guided them can be ours, too, namely that if we find something that grabs our interest and imagination, we should pursue it – especially if it’s not strictly speaking useful, i.e. profitable. At any age we need play, for its own sake, to keep our psyche in balance.

Sometimes an unfulfilled dream of our younger years crops up, asking to be looked at and perhaps realized second time round. This is what happened to a severely depressed, chronically tired 65-year-old client of mine, who felt that her life had been a pointless failure and that it was too late to do anything about it. She had become lethargic, spoke less and less and often seemed almost absent. One day a chance question of mine made her recall an early memory: aged ten, she desperately wanted to learn to play the guitar, having heard a recording by the great Andres Segovia, founder of the modern classical guitar movement (who lived to be 93...), but her father wouldn’t hear of it and told her to concentrate on her homework instead. “And who is stopping you now?” I asked, looking across a gap of 55 years. She sat quite still for a while and then broke into a shy smile. “Well, no-one of course,” she said, sounding more vigorous than usual. By our next session she had bought a guitar and found a teacher, and I knew that even if she never became a virtuoso player, she had taken the first big step out of her depression. And, as ancient Chinese wisdom maintains, even a ten-thousand-mile journey begins with one step.

What will your life-enhancing first step be next time when the energy runs a bit low?


  1. No Article Comments available

Post Your Comments:

About Beata Bishop

Beata Bishop is a writer, lecturer and psychotherapist in private practice, working along Jungian and transpersonal lines. Her special interests include the role of the spiritual dimension in all kinds of healing, and the body-mind link in sickness and health. Her book, A Time to Heal (First Stone Publishing, 2010), describes her journey from life-threatening cancer to robust health using an unorthodox nutritional therapy. She can be contacted on e-mail:

top of the page