On Letting It Kill You

The Suncapped Mountain

The pianist James Rhodes inspires me.

I have his blog entry in The Guardian saved to my favorites. Every few weeks I go back and reread it; remind myself of what true artistic passion looks like, sounds like, is.

Sometimes his words inspire me.

Sometimes they are a terrible reminder of what I am and have become.

Passion. What does it look like?


“Admittedly I went a little extreme – no income for five years, six hours a day of intense practice, monthly four-day long lessons with a brilliant and psychopathic teacher in Verona, a hunger for something that was so necessary it cost me my marriage, nine months in a mental hospital, most of my dignity and about 35lbs in weight.”

He let his passion bring him to the brink of death.

And then let it save him.

Thanks in part to Oprah and her bigger than the universe presence, there is a lot of buzz about finding your passion and about finding Your Purpose in life. The result is an interesting tension between a need to find Purpose, and the realization that searching for Purpose is not how one does it.

What makes you fire up in your fingers? Makes your heart beat a little faster?

Those are supposed to be the guiding signs of finding Purpose. The problem I have found, and of those friends I have talked to, is those indicators only work if you have stripped the bullshit far enough down to even pick up on them in the first place.

So much bullshit.

Even Rhodes, who’s passion took him down the dark path, worked for years in corporate muck before shoving it all off. His passion is obvious… but only in retrospect.

Ah, retrospect. The 20/20 vision of looking back on our lives. The irony is always so obvious. We are so obvious.

While talking to my friend the other day about twin flames (a new interest of mine), she made a comment about being your whole self. This is a lovely thought, bringing all the pieces of the puzzle together, but what does it mean, and more, how is it done?

For Rhodes, music is a piece of his soul. A hugely important, all encompassing piece. He denied the existence of that piece into misery.

Isn’t that what so many of us do as well?

This then is the question; what are we denying?

by Jem Salmon

The path of finding a whole self is a twisted one, often walked upon in the dead of the night when no moon shines and the stars are lost in clouds. We trip. We fall. We skin our knees and cut our palms. And then we get back up and keep walking. Every once in awhile the light shines through, the sun glimpsed through the murk, and we see the mountain ahead, glimmering white and snow capped… the mountain that we still must climb.

And in the beauty that is the mountain, the glimpse of our future weighs down at our already tired feet, leaden legs, bowed shoulders, and though it glimmers in the sun, the prospect dogs our steps.

And yet.

And yet, we keep going. Because there is hope, I suppose. A promise of something so incredibly right that all exhaustion disappears.

One of the things I have read lately about this twin flame idea, is that according to legend, we spend lifetimes becoming whole before we can even exist in the same realm as that other soul. We must go through it all… the dark forest of our lives ala Brothers Grimm. Then we arrive.

And what we can do changes the world.

Is that the reason we walk on?

Finding ourselves. Passion.


Changing the world.


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