I look back at work I wrote a year ago, and I don’t recognize it as my own. Yes, I know the piece. I wrote it. The characters are mine, and the art is authentic, but sometimes as if another person works through me.
I DO ME
Flow is the place we aspire to be. It’s a surfer’s dream. To lose the struggle and only know exhilaration and glory, man! That’s the ideal. We all want that, don’t we? Then why do I white knuckle it?
Losing control is not a feeling I enjoy. When I was younger, the coasting downhill on my bike was good. Not flying through the air and losing my sense of direction. But in my fear I find release. There’s a comfort—An “Oh dear gawd I’m going to die—Okay maybe not.” And relief that I didn’t. All is alright. It’s a time when I learned to let go of me.
The greatest benefit of being a solo performer is that it is seriously frightening, but at the same time very empowering. It’s just you and the audience. All the weight is on you to deliver the songs.
Some of the things I’ve done which scared the shit out of me, I leaped into them fully, feet first. I had an idea and started. Once I painted my kitchen cabinets. Yes, I researched the hows. I bought supplies. But I had no experience. I took the first step, then the second. Sometime in the middle, I realized there was no turning back. I was committed. I would finish this project. It’s at these junctures when you turn the music loud and get to work.
You start dying slowly, but it doesn’t need to be this way. Choices. Those are the power buttons. We can wear the bright color, do the fun vacation, eat the ice cream, go dancing, see an art exhibit. Be alive. Everyday.
Sit in the middle of the day, in a public place, not with a cup of coffee or a book, just sit. Someone will stop and ask you if you need something. They’ll worry. Are you okay?
People don’t know what to do when someone is just sitting. And pity the homeless person sleeping on the grass or the steps. We poke them. Are they alive? I work downtown, so we see a few in the week.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how out of control most of our lives seem. Or maybe it’s just mine. I posted a while back the conundrum that I have or shall I say the elastic stretch, between medication and being well. Slowing Down to a Human Crawl The medication prevents the illness, but it also causes fatigue – in degrees. The fatigue and the spinal issues have caused me to reevaluate the heads down, let’s push through to make it happen, bull-headedness of mine. I’m a bit stubborn. I like to win. I like to get things done. I’ve been known push until it hurt. Well, I’m rethinking. Recalculating even.
I’ve been trying to discover this new life I have since I’m walking instead of running. The colors are different. Sounds and tastes also. I’m kidding a bit. But I am adjusting. It’s been a year of weight loss. My styles have changed. My wardrobe has changed. Today I just purged my closet. I should feel excited, but I don’t. I feel off beat. I keep walking hoping that at some moment along the way it’s going to feel alright.
Here’s the truth of it. There are life changes that I want to make that aren’t happening yet. That leisure I talk about is my way of saying that I need more relaxation in my life. I’ve had to push for it. When others were demanding I work overtime; I was pulling away. I had to respect myself over the job. This stuff isn’t easy.
I want to fill my space with music, my walls with color, and my life with people who know how to enjoy living this life to the fullest – however it may look.
The issue with letting the critic in, is that I forget to show him out when it’s time to be creative again. I want to present a certain face so I can get the attention I want. I know some of what others want to hear. I’m very goal oriented and I want to line things up in their correct space so that everything is right. Tweaked until the right item is in the right spot. Then adjusted and then moved again. Until it becomes a second nature. It is almost as if we are the ones who are being tuned and learning the rhythm instead of the music being adjusted. I often feel that I am the one who is being calibrated to be sensitive for whatever new job I take on. But sometimes I can be wrong about the right action.
I think that is what I love about new things. I love stepping into the chaos, the uncertainty, and learning the feel of the situation. It’s like walking into a choir practice. The voices are warming up and practicing their various parts. I’m not a musician or vocalist by the way so I don’t have much knowledge of music, only enough to know I know jack squat about music. My dad played by ear and my mom was in a group and sang for a time as a teenager, but I didn’t inherit their talent. Off the subject, but I did learn that my paternal grandfather had a radio show and he would play his ukulele when he was younger. See there is talent in the family. Without a standard in front of me, my obsessiveness doesn’t kick in and I feel free to explore. The child in me wants to play and no one plays well with the critic sitting nearby. So for a time he has to be quiet and go back down to the basement.
I thought I’d never love again. I’m no longer the dopey eyed school girl who thinks life will end if the boy doesn’t like me. If he doesn’t call, my life isn’t over. I can just move on. I thought often that I’d become too hardened to ever feel, but I realize now that I still feel. It’s different. It’s a fresher aliveness I have in me now. My love no longer destabilizes me. I can stand and still love.
I’ve been told that to love someone means to lay your life down for that person. To give of yourself and make sacrifices. But those never come out even. One person always ends up making the sacrifice, becoming the lamb, while the other is holding the blade. Call me jaded if you want, but it seems that in this 50 + 50 = 100% equation, if one person gives up more, then the other balances by taking more and giving less. If the sacrificing person holds their ground then a relationship can happen. Give and take. Both. No one needs to lose their heart in a blood sacrifice. Stand tall. Love is still in you. This is a new day with a new type of love.
A lot can happen between now and never. If you want to build a better home, first you must demolish the old one. – Game of Thrones
Demolish the old life. Build a new one. Love again, just don’t do it the way you did it before. You’re not the person you were before and your love won’t be either.
A confident woman knows she holds all the cards in the relationship. If she doesn’t like the way he texts, calls, communicates, kisses, or commits, she can dump him at any time. – Evan Marc Katz
Am I a failure at relationships because I can’t give someone what they want? Or, maybe they need to find what they are needing somewhere else.
Does it make me incapable of being intimate if my need for aloneness is huge? Taking time for myself is essential to who I am. Am I the other’s property? A doll to dress up and approve? Do I need to ask permission to wear blue or take a nap? Who do I listen to, myself or to other people? Is their need (even if they are a lover) more important than my own?
I need space, but that doesn’t make me cold. I love reading, but movies are wonderful also. I love blue and red and green and purple and black. Taste the rainbow. I cannot live in one man’s pastel world. I cannot be there for his every need.
I deal with these feelings of anger and sadness because I’ve felt like a failure at times. Old issues seem to resurface. I’ve heard the accusations, You weren’t there for me. You’re cold and emotionless. But I’m not.
If I take my love back why are you complaining? It was mine to give in the first place. You don’t own me.
For all the many changes in humanity, there are some essential things that haven’t changed. We still like to listen to each other talk. Whether it’s on an old radio show, around the campfire telling stories, a preacher behind a podium, a book being read or a podcast. For some reason the tradition of speaking and listening is still strong. I listen to a lot of podcasts while I’m working. It’s either podcasts or music. I tried listening to books, but they are too distracting, after all I still have to work.
The oratory tradition
Stories are what we swim in, what we breathe, and what we consume. They are how we teach our children the values that are important. “Santa won’t bring you any presents if you’re bad.” I couldn’t even guess how many times we watched 101 Dalmatians or The Lion King when my children were young. I can imagine my sons telling their children stories of a lion king and the evil brother lion who wanted the kingdom for himself. Very much like the Star Wars stories set my generation’s values, Disney has played a large part for the current generation.
The stories you tell, tell who you are
I’ve decided to search for other stories. My culture isn’t Jewish, but we adopted the stories that come from a long line of Abrahamic tradition. Stories of a god that came to a man in the fertile crescent. A god that promised that man a nation of his own. These stories are about a group of people that were not my people. We as a Christian culture adopted them because we all want god to come to us and promise us glitter and gold, or sheep and children in Abraham’s case.
My first thought was, what other stories cover that time? The Abrahamic tradition takes us back to the first herders and farmers. I’m thinking of The Book of Invasions (Ireland) Lebor Gabala Erenn, which was the inspiration for Karen Marie Moning’s writing.
They say that if you believe you’re crazy, you probably aren’t And of course the opposite could be true. So from now on, I will walk up to complete strangers asking, “Are you crazy?” That way I know who around me has lost their marbles. It’s wise to know your surroundings.
2. Are others backing away from you?
Are they whispering? Telling you to calm down? Or just avoiding your space? First do the smell test. Armpits? Check. Breath? Check. Hair? Check. Look in the mirror to make sure there is no demon writing on your face or your eyes aren’t glowing red. After that, check the words that are coming out of your mouth? Are you talking nonstop? To yourself or to a live person? If you are talking to yourself, are you having a full conversation? Stand still. Perfectly motionless. Put your hand to your ear as if you have an earpiece. Turn your head to the side as if you are listening to someone. Smile at everyone as they pass by and nod. Wave. You’re not crazy. You’re talking on your miniature mobile. It’s tucked neatly inside your ear. This could be avoided next time by buying a cheap Bluetooth system. Put it on your ear and you are permanently on the phone. Important people do it all the time.
3. Is your life mundane?
This to me is the kicker. If you worry that you have lost your mind and are really locked away in some ward or nursing facility, here’s a sure way to tell. Is your life full of adventure? Always jetting off to some island retreat? Meeting with VIPs? Drinking bubbly at noon, when you’re not on some top-secret mission. If this is the case, you might be crazy. Otherwise, if your life is full of with laundry, grocery shopping, carpooling, data entry, and generally boring repetitive activities, then it’s safe to say you’re okay. You’ve passed the test. Or you’re in hell. Who among us would have an imaginary life that boring?
Pass the sanity test?
If I lose my mind and my sanity is ever in question, I do hope I find myself in a wonderland of sunshine and sand. Some sparkling beach is calling my name and my mission is to hold it down. Keep it company because it’s lonely. Beaches need love too. And who am I to question a calling from on high?
Usually when someone’s mind is gone, they become some religious figure and feel the need to fight the devil. That one I want to avoid. An endless fight against evil? Goodness. Even God probably wants to call a timeout on that war.
If I was to go crazy, I might be involved in some espionage, but I’d like to pick an interesting, seductive personality. I would be able to speak French, German, Italian, and Russian fluently. And of course I’d drive a fast car. I’d wear diamonds on my fingers and toes. My ears also.
Maybe I have gone crazy.
I think I’d like to talk to the aliens. I’ve always wondered about life on other planets and galaxies. It’s a big world out there or so it seems. Of course it’s possible it’s all an illusion and there is only us. We could be talking to ourselves when we send out those probes. Talking to ourselves? Do you think the others are ignoring us? Avoiding us? Do we stink? Glowing eyes?
Aha! We are the crazy planet. The people who rocket to the moon just to plant our flag. We are the people who fight over little strips of ground that could be covered up by the ocean in 20 or so years. No delusional personality disorders around here. No jockeying for status by proclaiming our country as being superior. Only a crazy person would need to argue over who owns the soil under their feet. It reminds me of children arguing over who mommy loves most.
Did I go too far? Don’t mind me, I’m just the crazy one.
Seriously though, delusional people are sure of their place. They aren’t easily swayed by the doubts of others. You can explain logically and even show them proof that what they believe false. They aren’t swayed by logic. They feel it deep within themselves.
So how do you know if you are crazy? Maybe we are all crazy. Maybe we are the delusions in the mind of a crazy god. I don’t know. It seems there is a fine line between true belief and delusion. Between confidence and illusions of grandeur. So I pray that if I ever do lose touch with my so-called reality, that I can create a reality that is enjoyable. Not one where the people in dark glasses and trench coats are following me. I don’t want to spend my fantasy hours hiding from an unreal villain.
I had a quick grasp of the secret to sanity, it had become the ability to hold the maximum of impossible combinations in one’s mind.-Norman Mailer
Is there a way to prevent madness? I’m going to try.
First by not taking myself and my beliefs so seriously. It seems counter-intuitive but it seems it is the way of insanity to get swept up in the big ideas of an unreal world. Maybe it’s because it gives us a purpose. We all need a reason to get out of bed in the morning. And most of our lives are mundane. Living is mundane. Unless you make it something interesting.
So my second way of preventing total delusion will be to Live! Take life and fill it with what makes me happy and makes me feel alive. I don’t want to wait until I lose my mind to visit a beautiful beach again. Maybe I should get some brochures and start learning a new language. Please God don’t let me forget how to live.
True sanity comes from being present in my NOW. Seeing the mundane and choosing to finish the laundry and buy the groceries. Watching a funny movie with friends and petting my cat even when she’s annoying.
One of the definitions of sanity is the ability to tell real from unreal. Soon we’ll need a new definition.-Alvin Toffler