Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Passion Rising

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs~
ask yourself what makes you come alive,
and then go do it.
Because what the world needs
is people who have come alive.
~Harold Thurman Whitman

Passion Rising © 2007 by Melissa Johnson.
In the movie Serendipity, the best man is asked to give a toast at his friend’s wedding. As a columnist for the New York Times, he decides to write the toast in the form of an obituary.
“The Greeks didn’t have obituaries.
When a man died they only asked one question:
Did he have passion?”
He goes on from there to remember his friend’s great passion for life and how it inspired his own.
My friend Stephan is like that. A charming French-Moroccan man I met while living in San Francisco, to me, Stephan is synonymous with passion, and I’m not just talking about the sexual kind. I’m talking about the kind of passion a person brings to life—even to the routine everyday things, like shopping and cooking.
A trip to Whole Foods, for example, was a spiritual experience for him. “Look at the tomato, sweetie darling,” he would say, holding it high in the air to get a better look at it. “Look at the color, how red and beautiful. Feel how soft the skin is. Can you even imagine all of the delicious dishes that we can make with this amazing tomato?”
Then two aisles over, “Consider the olive,” he might say with a twinkle in his eye. “It has all of the properties to give us a good life. We cook with it, and its oil helps the flow of blood to our hearts. It’s used in the lotions that moisturize your beautiful skin. Did you know it can even be used for lamplight? Can you even believe it? And when you put the olive together with the tomato, ooh la, la! So many delicious dishes we can make!” Every trip to the market was this way.
And cooking was no different. Stephan loved to cook, singing in the kitchen as he moved about, insisting that I taste and smell the flavors along the way, reminding me of the importance of using all organic ingredients. He used neither recipes nor measuring devices; his senses were the gauge of culinary perfection. And always, as he placed the platters of food on the table, he would smile and say to his guests, “I made it with love.” I think Stephan’s meals were so amazingly delicious, in part, because he was filled with passion, an energy that flowed into his food.
We all have the flame of passion inside us. For some, connecting with it is as easy and natural as breathing. For others, it’s a struggle to find, much less express. And for others still, it seems an inconvenience; why bother? When you consider the role that fear and human conditioning play, it’s easy to understand why some people are disconnected.
As children we hear things like: Simmer down. Don’t be so loud. Girls don’t jump out of trees. Big boys don’t cry. You can’t be an astronaut—we’re not that smart in our family. Use your fork; don’t eat with your hands. And for heavens sake, don’t burp or fart out loud.
Then our religious institutions tell us that all kinds of things are sinful and ungodly—dancing; sex without marriage or procreation; divorce; drinking a glass of wine; showing our hair and skin.
As teenagers and young adults we’re told to grow up, quit goofing around, and get serious. We hear things like, “Who do you think you are?” and “What will the neighbors think?” We’re encouraged to seek security by getting a “good job” and sticking with it, with little, if any, emphasis on whether we even like the work.
In relationships, we’re told that compatibility is more important than chemistry, that it’s just as easy to love a rich man as it is a poor man; that you can’t have everything so you might as well “love the one you’re with.” We see people all around us settling for the “safe” thing or “the bird in the hand,” not what gives their heart the greatest joy.
It’s no wonder that by the time many of us become adults, our flame is just a flicker. How can we expect to open our hearts and connect with our passionate longings when we’re so estranged from ourselves? It’s as if we need permission to be who we are. So how do we break the deadlock?
Success isn't a result of spontaneous combustion.
You must set yourself on fire.
~Arnold H. Glasow
You know how people say that we should live each day as if it was our last? Inspiring advice on one level, but when it comes to passion I’ve got a better idea. What if we decide to live each day as if it were our first? What if we decide that this year, we’ll get back to our roots—lighthearted with a certain innocence of spirit—like children, approaching the world with excitement and curiosity that can only come when we’re unburdened by worry, fear, anxiety and doubt.
What if we shed these debilitating thoughts like old skin, wiping the slate clean and forgiving ourselves those uncomfortable demands that weigh us down with expectations of how things ought to be or would have been if only . . .
What if we rub our eyes free of the jaded perceptions that color our view of what’s possible in the future because of how things happened in the past? And rekindle the flame of passion as we connect with what gives our heart the greatest joy, remembering that our energy and dreams are the purest most natural resources that we have to offer the world.
What if we commit to something different? Can we do that?
Will you set yourself on fire with a spirit of possibility and the promise of each new day?
I think you can. In fact, I know you can. Now step away from your comfort zone . . . and get ready to burn!
As a ceremonial start, try Stephan’s recipe for passion:

Grandma’s Moroccan Meatballs
(Serves 3-4 of your favorite people)
(Remember: All organic, sweetie-darling)

1 lb. ground beef (or turkey)
1 bunch parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small white onions (1 chopped and 1 cut into long, thin strips)
1 teaspoon fresh chopped ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
Salt & pepper to taste
6 juicy Roma Tomatoes, sliced into wedges
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ cup water
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Lots of passion and love for your dinner guests
To prepare:
In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef (or turkey), ¾ of the parsley, garlic, 1 chopped onion, ginger, turmeric, salt & pepper, then mix with your hands. Go ahead; don’t be afraid to get dirty! Form mixture into small meatballs and set aside on a plate. In a large sauté pan, add about 2 tablespoons of EVOO (or enough to swirl around and coat the bottom of the pan), Roma tomato wedges, 1 small onion (sliced in long, thin strips), the remaining parsley and a bit of salt & pepper. Sauté the vegetables on medium-low heat for approximately 10 minutes; stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste and water, stir and sauté for another 5 minutes. Then add meatballs to the pan, cooking slowly (still on medium-low) for 7-10 minutes on each side, turning once. And don’t forget to infuse your food with lots of love and passion. Try singing as you move about the kitchen.
To serve:
Arrange Moroccan Meatballs on a large platter with cooked tomatoes, onion and sprigs of parsley. Serve with mint tea and a platter of olives, assorted artisan cheeses and a large French baguette. Make sure you eat with your hands, tearing off chunks of bread and using them to scoop the meatball mixture, olives and cheese! And don’t forget to lick your fingers!
And for the vegetarians among us, the vegetable sauté is delicious even without the meat and makes for a wonderfully seasoned compliment to lentils, pasta, couscous, or as a simple bread-dipping sauce. Get creative!
Ooh la, la! Many thanks for my dear friend Stephan, for inspiring my passion and allowing me to share his Grandma’s delicious dish. Happy New Year everyone, and bon appetite!
By Melissa Johnson

No comments: