Passion or Purpose?

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I hate moderation. I hate doing things moderately. I hate having to be controlled, mature, and disciplined. I don't want to moderate how much I eat or drink. I don't want to be moderate with sex, or playing, or vacations. I don't want to moderate what I say for fear it will offend. I don't want to do what's "good for me."

I DO want to have a second piece of pie because it tastes good. Sometimes, I do want to have hot sweaty sex at night and again in the morning because it tastes good. I want to run to the roller coaster at Disneyland with the rest of the nine-year-old boys. But I can't.

The pie is bad for my weight and cholesterol. The morning sex will disturb my exhausted, sleeping wife and negatively affect my marital relational love. The other parents at Disneyland will think I'm weird.

We all know what moderation, control, and discipline really means. It means, "I don't get to have what I want. I get to watch other people have what I want; and seem to get away with it. I get to convince myself that raw vegetables taste as good as a Krispy Kreme. I don't just delay my gratification, I simply don't 'get no satisfaction.'"

I know I need to be somewhat moderate, disciplined, and controlled to live life effectively and for a long time--both of which I want. But what about the juice of life--passion? I love being passionate. Does passion have room for discipline and moderation or does it eat them? Does sensual, hedonistic, glorious pleasure have to wear the belt of moderation? To quote McCauley Culkin, the font of wisdom and good choices, "I don't think so."

Part of the wonder of new romances is doing things "over the top;" being infatuated and going with it through cards and flowers and three hour phone calls and getting into work late and tired. Real passion for something makes other things seem like white noise and static. Passion almost demands that other stuff be put aside so you can be excessive. For a year, I wrote most of my first book Stepping Stones, between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. and on weekends feeling possessed with a sense of needful urgency to write. I'm ashamed to admit that it was great even though I didn't spend as much time with my family.

As I look back, I think the times I've been happiest in my life, I have been obsessed and passionate about something: school, a woman, building my career, exercise; the occasionally sublime nexus moment I talk about in Steppingstones. At these times, I am almost never moderate. I don't always feel out of control; but I am definitely excessive with my priority, big time; making everything else number two; figuratively of course.

Are passion and purpose something you have to balance? Or does being passionate help you with your purpose and vice versa? If you try to balance hedonistic passion and mature, effective living, are you cheating yourself out of both? Can you hurl yourself into the moment and be moderate?

I need to go now. My spinach salad and diet 7-UP are getting warm.

Light and Love,

About The Author

Dr. Tim Sams is the author of Stepping Stones: 10 Steps to Seizing Passion and Purpose; the book is available through his web site:, and at all online bookstores.

Dr. Sams is a University of Michigan graduate who interned at the Long Beach VA Medical Center. He is a diplomate of the American Academy of Pain Management and the American College of Forensic Medicine. He originally trained as a medical and health psychologist with specialty training in behavioral medicine, the melding of medicine and psychology, mind and body. Though he had taken dozens of classes in biology, anatomy, and physiology, over time his clinical passion for alleviating physical pain blossomed and he obtained a Master's of Science with emphasis on the medical basis of orthopedic, neurologic, and myofascial pain.

He is a frequent lecturer on pain management throughout the United States. He authored the most comprehensive patient pain manual scheduled for release in June, 2005. He writes a free, biweekly newsletter called Advances in Medicine that you can sign up for on this website.

Dr. Tim is a motivator and a teacher; a caring soul who believes that humor is one of the best weapons against pain; that and really good drugs.

Dr. Tim has multiple offices in Southern California, consulting to a few dozen pain physicians and hundreds of primary care physicians and orthopedic surgeons. He spends one day a week in his office educating patients at

He lives and plays in Orange County, California with his wife Lari and his daughter, Leah. He spends most of his non-family free time jogging, swimming, reading, or writing.

Copyright 2004. Dr. Tim Sams. All rights reserved.

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