How to Activate Your Apocalyptic Passion.
Do you hear that sound?
If you are not careful, you will mistake it for the erratic, troubled heartbeat of freedom, decency, humanity on the verge of extinction. You will get caught up in its melancholy temptation towards resignation.
You will become like the mouse caught in the cat’s teeth. Better to play dead and see if you can make a run for it when he shakes his whiskers and starts batting you about with those grand, malicious paws. Best to search out a hiding place and be still and quiet, hoping he will find more exciting prey.
What measure of power does a mouse have against such a fearsome (orange) feline anyway?
But if you will listen a little closer, I think you will find another truth waiting to be heard. This unsteady heartbeat is not an extinction cry. It is the nascent, somewhat unsteady, pulse of passion struggling to breathe in the deadly smog of futility. It is the hopeful, still-alive future begging to be resuscitated. It is destiny in search of a first responder.
And who but you can place her lips upon the mouth of hope and vitality? Who but you can perform this act of CPR on tomorrow?
As much as this fateful moment is playing out in Washington DC and on the killing fields of Syria, it is also playing out inside of you, inside of us. To externalize it to faraway lands, or to some authoritarian regime operating above your pay grade, is to cede all power to the sound of death marching, unrepentant, disconnected from the challenge of rebirth.
This is the lie of powerlessness doing the bidding of fascism. From its lying lips ushers the true extinction call. It is the formidable sound of wanton destruction wafting on the wind. It is the horrifying siren song of a wretched isolation that tears you from me and us from them.
Tyranny can reign supreme if only it can get you to claim your own inessentiality, to sit about shaking your head, shoulders hunched forward, lips pursed, sipping your emotional give-up cocktail, little umbrella swirling about in a grand mixture of helplessness and hopelessness.
If only tyranny can get you to sip some hatred while you are at it, tyranny can drown your humanity in a bathtub, and mine, and ours.
This cannot stand. I won’t stand for it.
So, I have come here as a counter-force, as the voice of dissent and of inspiration. I have come to call you!
Have you ever heard of a strangler fig?
Its seed, once deposited on the surface of its host tree begins to slowly overtake the old with the new.
“As it grows, long roots develop and descend along the trunk of the host tree, eventually reaching the ground and entering the soil. Several roots usually do this, and they become grafted together, enclosing their host’s trunk in a strangling latticework, ultimately creating a nearly complete sheath around the trunk. The host tree’s canopy becomes shaded by the thick fig foliage, its trunk constricted by the surrounding root sheath, and its own root system forced to compete with that of the strangling fig. This process can kill the host. If it does not, the host tree, being much older than the strangler, still dies eventually and rots away and a magnificent fig “tree” is left behind whose apparent “trunk” is actually a gigantic cylinder of roots.” ~ Encyclopedia Britannica
Your passion — your aliveness, your humanity, your hunger for more — is the seed of a strangler fig that will devastate what is and replace it with your true magnificence and ours.
In this sense, your passion is apocalyptic because its presence foretells the outright destruction of the world possessed by the existing host — your existing personality, our existing culture.
It foretells the complete transformation that will be possible when this passion takes root in who you have been during the significant moments of horror, grand and small, that have shaped you… that have shaped us.
Then, transfigured, you will become the seed of the fig tree rooting into the existing framework of this world, overtaking it, strangling the old structures and replacing them with the new. Joined with others, your apocalyptic passion seed will become the overwhelming presence of a passionate we that will rend this world and render another.
But to realize this strangling of the old by the new, we must personalize everything that is happening in the world. We must claim the true reach of our power. We must choose to cross the scarlet Rubicon of life within ourselves. It is not enough to place a demand on history as though we are not its authors.
Together, we must liberate this apocalyptic passion within ourselves and from the deadly stupor brought on by our own addiction to the give-up cocktail. We must free it from the false-flag operations of anger that draw us into futile fights. We must liberate it also from a fear so powerful it leaves us frozen like that metaphorical mouse we met at the beginning of this article.
And to achieve this, we must accept a challenge that will ask us to question everything we think we know about feelings and emotions and about the true essence of who we are as the ones feeling and emoting.
The challenge: Destroy the notion that we feel what we feel. Cease to accept the idea that our emotions emanate from reality. Accept the radical, subversive idea that reality emanates from our emotions.
In place of false notions of fate, we must enliven the truth of destiny.
Our emotions have become bad habits, killing spontaneity, dragging us over and over again into the cesspool of wasted potential. But if we take hold of their true power, the whole world might just become like the hips of a mother cracking open, making way for a new reality.
If we break the grip of habit, the grip of the past, on our feelings, we might just unleash a clever wildness capable of blossoming in and around us as a fleshy kind of hope replete with life. We might even call this hope — oh, I don’t know — apocalyptic passion!
And make no mistake. Everything happening right now represents the past. It represents who we were and what we chose yesterday. These choices are coming home to roost as today’s current events. The headlines and the happenings of our individual lives alike represent the habits of personality and culture and of responses deeply codified within us (but certainly subject to amendment).
What will we do today (and with today) to achieve a greater tomorrow?
What will we choose to feel in order to become this cleaver, apocalyptic wildness?
I can hear your doubt inside my own head taking shape as a very pointed, realistic question: Am I mad?
What good can it do for us to feel differently, to indeed become the masters of our emotions rather than attacking these wretched circumstances directly?
Wouldn’t we be better served by some direct action or protest or boycott?
Let me answer a question with a question:
What happens to all your good intentions when they meet the hostility of these horrid days? Down what rabbit hole does your vision flee when you look upon the devastation of this moment?
I’ll answer you. Your vision dies by the hand of your emotions and by your willingness to give up your vision to your seemingly ironclad experience of (orange) hopelessness emanating from on high. Your passion never becomes apocalyptic because your desire for a different world gives up in the seething cauldron of devastation all around you. You never choose to be greater than what you believe is.
But you can choose differently. You can decide to live by the power of your vision, giving your emotion over as a servant to its higher truth. You can choose to be grander, more powerful, more influential than reality.
In this way, you can come alive as passion in motion, an apocalyptic force capable of revealing something unexpected, delightful, spontaneous, and free. You can tear the veil, but not as the sacrificial lamb on yesterday’s transformative cross, but rather, as life incarnate, pulsing, vibrating with potential.
You can tell a new story where aliveness begets aliveness until the old order simply fades away without bloodshed or gruesome battles against evil.
Truthfully, the passionate we that rends one world and renders another begins with this choice, but it cannot end there if we hope to truly make an unforgettable, truly immense impact.
One person isolated, even if she performs this operation with perfect dedication, can only overtake the host tree of trauma and devastation within herself, which, of course, is what we are talking about: the imprint of trauma and devastation upon our minds, our cultures, our emotions, and now, our global nightmare.
Perhaps one person can even strangle these things in her immediate circle of influence. But the effort can never take on the power of multiplication without the creation of the we.
Perhaps in the strangling, this heroine of passion can even learn to dance anew, to break the uncomfortable immobility of these terrifying times. Maybe she can even yield the sweet fruit of the fig tree.
But dancing alone is somewhat meaningless, don’t you think?
A sweet flavor with no lips to savor it is bland, is it not?
Passion in motion that fails to enliven what it touches is really like a stiff wind running through a cemetery: death’s companion, but not its rebuttal.
So, I suppose this is my clarion call to the world. By choosing to feel something new in the space of the old, it is possible for us to activate the power of our apocalyptic passion as the strangler seed that destroys the handiwork of yesterday and opens up the hope of tomorrow’s flourishing.
But that hope can only be realized in a new kind of togetherness, one that takes into consideration where we have been, soberly, honestly. And then goes on to forge a new kind of intimacy, a more honest one that dares to grapple with what we have discovered about one another in these dank and dreary days.
It won’t stop there, of course. This intimacy must give rise to a new hunger, to a new kind of apocalyptic passion that makes us ravenous for one another, ravenous for the human bonds we were made to create. It must give rise to an unbreakable we, which makes this circle complete. Will we dare to admit that this hunger, this apocalyptic passion, already exists in us? We are already desperate for one another.
We are already starving to savor the richness of our shared humanity.
If only we will tap into this. If only we will stop covering over it with the habit of denial stitched into our souls like a monogram by the survival instincts provoked in this age, we will rend this horrid isolation and find one another again. We will reject the lies that tell us we must choose between an us that stands together and an I that lives through the night.
This ironclad rebuttal of our mostly dead reality all starts with the truth of our need, the truth that we need one another. This is how we ultimately activate the apocalyptic passion that can save this moment as the genesis of a sanguine sunrise still to come.