Two people can have the same job description, and one is holding a subtle or not-so-subtle life energy (eros) in doing his or her job, while another is holding a subtle or not-so-subtle negative energy (thanatos) while doing the exact same job. Most of us are somewhere in between, I suppose. We actually respond to one another’s energy more than to people’s exact words or actions. In any situation, your taking or giving of energy is what you are actually doing. Everybody can feel, suffer, or enjoy the difference, but few can exactly say what it is that is happening. Why do I feel drawn or repelled?
What we all desire and need from one another, of course, is that life energy called eros! It always draws, creates, and connects things. This is surely what Jesus meant when he said that you could only tell a good tree from a bad one “by its fruits” (Matthew 7:20). Inside of life energy, a group or family will be productive and energetic; inside of death energy there will be gossip, cynicism, and mistrust hiding behind every interaction. Yet you usually cannot precisely put your finger on what is happening. That is second-half-of-life wisdom, or what Paul calls “the discerning of spirits” (1 Corinthians 12:10).