I have been accused, you may be surprised to hear, of being (shall we say) a little, um, intense – when the observer is being kind. When said observer is being less kind, intensity turns to scary. Too focused, too needy, too there. As a dear friend (one of the kind ones) once said, “Stacey, you never even give people a chance to miss you.”
All that being said, I had a revelation the other day. No, angels did not dance on the head of a pin, and the earth did not move, but I think I figured something out. It has to do with that intensity thing (I was going to say character defect, but I have decided to be a bit kinder to myself) (while I’ve been typing, because I’m nothing if not compulsive and easily distracted by bright shiny objects)(my thoughts being mostly shiny today and always bright) (and speaking parenthetically is a great illustration of my distraction). As I was about to say, before I was distracted: on to my rambling revelation – on to INTENSITY.
Here’s the deal. For what felt like a thousand years, but turns out to be merely a couple of decades, I lived in a very tiny tiny universe of one. Nothing got in. Nothing got out. I had decided, somewhere around the time I started drinking, that I could not afford to be hurt again. Life was way too painful. My heart was already quite fragile, and so I wrapped my fear and my anger and my hurt around me like a shield. And I lived that way (ok, “lived” is only an approximation; I was much more like Gollum eventually became – stretched) for a long time. It was… safe.
At least, that’s what I told myself. I ignored the leaks, of course. I ignored the seepage of hurt, the numbness of anger, the whispers of pain that managed to find every chink and crack in my carefully crafted armor. They were all brief, flashes of something felt more in retrospect, when I was tired or hungry. It was a lonely and stretched thinner-than-air existence. Of course, the more I drank, the more I took refuge in alcohol as Shield, the lonelier and more tired I would get.
And then, miracle of miracles – I got sober! And after a little bit of time (Days? Weeks? A year or two? Who the hell knew? Who the hell cared?!) – after a while, I noticed the walls of my tiny little universe of one had crumbled. The trumpet had blared under the light of a new sun, and I stood before God and everyone else, defenseless and open.
And it was good.
Ok, mostly it was good. I still have my moments, even twenty years and more later, still want to cling to the dark and comforting fog of that particular prison. But God, I was out! I was free. And I could run, and you know what? It feels like I am twirling in a starlit field, twirling and dizzy – not drunk, but alive and dizzy – and chasing fireflies. And I think, really and truly, when I stop to think at all, that this is the feeling that everyone has, all the time. This is the thing I missed for so long! This abandon and exuberance and energy. This is my shout: Hineini! Here I am, free at last, in the light of a new day. Let’s play! And I really believe that everyone wants to play, to feel that dizzy, twirly, joyous thing.
Nothing is filtered anymore. All I ever did in my old half life, was filter: edit, erase, delete, change, hide, scorn, disdain. Take your pick. Everything went through layer after layer of subterfuge until it (whatever “it” was) lay dead at the feet of my metaphor. But not anymore. There are no filters. And that is the source of this intensity. I just want to play. I don’t ever want to lose sight of that joy, that connection, that sense that once I was alone and now I am not. I was so alone, for so very long. I have no real frames of reference on how to be not alone. What I get is connection, this electric feeling of not alone.
I know, I know: I have to learn how to put the filters back on. Not in the way they were. Never that. But in a new way, a way that lets the light in still, but that doesn’t frighten anyone either. Not an easy task. Certainly not for me, because I like the dizzy, twisty, firefly-catching dance. But I have to learn to temper it. I have to grow up a bit and learn to walk a bit and I can’t keep dancing. Can I?
And so there’s my revelation. It may seem trite or naive, so forgive me. It’s just that there are so many fireflies to catch, and I don’t want to miss a one. I want to play in that light, the dizzying, twirly light and feel connected. In the end, I am convinced it is the connections that matter – deep and rich and life-affirming. Forgive me as I stumble through my intensity, looking for the filters that mute the intensity to bearable levels.
In the meantime, thanks for letting me dance.