Passion and love at the end of the age of innocence

It all started with an innocent question.

The conversation had a reached a point where it was perfectly logical to ask, “Are you Jewish?” Little did I expect the outpour of raw emotion that followed. My friend was brought up in an ultra-orthodox Jewish family on the East Coast. His anti-secular upbringing had become both the source of his rebellion and sadly, his father’s downfall.

Upon reading the auto-biographical account he had written, I was struck by the vivid passion that came through in his writing. His story was genuinely touching. Being the self- centered individual that I am, it reminded me of my own writings many years back – not in content but in the purity and strength of emotion.

This triggered a trip down memory lane. I re-read the letters I wrote to others and myself many years ago. For all its naiveté, the passionate expression of my love, longing and fear rendered me slightly nostalgic. When I was younger, I was terrified of social expectation, judgment, and harbored a fear of rejection. In part, such fears drove me into social isolation, and it was in that isolation that I developed true independence, which in turn led to greater creativity and drive. Did I lose something in the process of conquering those fears?

It’s amazing how much easier life is when one is older. We are more experienced, confident and financially independent and come to realize that most of the things we once feared do not actually matter. After all, if you approach a girl and get rejected, you have lost nothing. Yet it seemed such a risky and momentous step at the time.

My hunger and drive have in no way abated, but is that because of habituation? Maybe it’s just what I do and who I am. While I still feel a fire burning inside of me, it is a canalized and more logical form of passion. Arguably it’s the longing and need to succeed that have disappeared – the “je ne sais quoi”, “zazazu”, and butterflies that make the experience magical.

Is fear of rejection requisite to falling in love? I have loved, but have not been in love in years. Even when I consciously wanted to, the invisible protective barriers of my subconscious seemed to refuse it.

It might also be why most entrepreneurs are one hit wonders – young men in their twenties who no longer feel as much of a need to compete after they succeed. It is natural to become more risk averse once you have something to lose.

From this evolves another interesting paradox. When I was younger, in an attempt to be taken seriously by adults, I avoided behaving as a child. I was always studying, reading, deferring to authority and generally being shy and conservative. As I no longer fear disappointing others, I have become a lot more relaxed and playful. I have no qualms rolling in the mud with my puppies or admitting that I love video games, remote control boats and helicopters, paintball and games of all genres. I am arguably more of a kid today than I was then. Yet from the same process that allows me to be childlike came the loss of poetic longing and fear that have inspired so many throughout time.

Despite this, as I turn 33, my recently discovered youth leaves me hopeful about the future. My motivations are now self- driven and no longer dependant upon the approval of others so perhaps something greater has actually been gained. As for love, who knows, the discovery of quasi-childish innocence may yet retrigger those seemingly lost feelings.

Rest of my life: here I come!

  • The anxieties and fears of your youth are very similar to those that I am wrestling with right now. Although I am aware of there presence and origin, I have been conditioned for so long to “believe” them, that they still creep into my concsious thought regularly. It is good to know that as I gain experience and continue to follow MY dreams, these fears can subside.

  • Great entry, Fabrice.
    I grappled with similar feelings growing up. I finished high school and started medical school still at 15 years old and at the same time I had the tremendous pressure of being the captain of Ecuador’s junior national gymnastics team. I felt that my childhood up to that point was a mixed blur of books and bruises(from gymnastics). Though my parents were extremely supportive and encouraging, fears of failure were ever present, and that is probably what made me triumph both in sports and academics at the expense of a “normal” childhood. Like you, it seems that now that I am older, the child has emerged and he wants to play catch up. Great quote about this from a song named “She’s out of my life” by Saul Williams: “…I am no musician but the pain has been instrumental, my senses, finely tuned instruments of being lonely, of being loved, of being lost, of being human, man I could use a metaphor but I can’t get beyond this. I could use someone to talk to, but most of my conversations with men seem to revolve around music.”

  • Really enjoy reading you !

    When it comes to life and its mystery ways (or shall I say roads ?)there’s a wonderful quote by Margaret Lee Runbeck : “Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling” which could speak to everybody’s heart & soul.

    I believe it to be a good “motto” for those who embrace changes in their life and by doing so chances are that they will definetly meet their match in very unusual place (where social or religion differences will no longer be an issue but a new path to discover).

    I wish I knew someone to introduce you to, because you truly rock!

  • Great entry. Nothing like sharing the inner workings of one’s soul (and mind). Glad to see you haven’t lost the hunger. As you long as you stay curious and open, I’m sure that “the” one will come along who will rock your boat (to borrow from Marie’s terms. Waiting for you, meanwhile, on the courts.

  • A warning for you Fabrice…you are reaching into the years that show you just how quickly time passes. Like the lines on a log chart the years pass in ever tighter spacing. You will be 38 tomorrow and 47 the next day. Don’t blink.

  • Hum, yep, here we are. I have a question in fact, I have 2 boys and as a father I am always split between letting them playing and being child as the best preparation to be adults or try to put some pressure everywhere academics, sports, behaviour etc. Whaty would you do ? Peter Pan.

  • It’s a very delicate balancing act. My instinct is that one has to be extremely liberal with children and try to inspire them by your words and actions.

    In other words, don’t force them to take piano lessons. Take piano lessons yourself and ask them if they want to join in. Have high expectations, they will work hard on their own not to disappoint you.

    In other words, while discipline might give the illusion of working, inspiring them to drive their ambition is much more powerful.