I had one of those days recently wherein I felt the most curious case of self-identification. Perhaps it would be more precise to say that I experienced a brief panic of anonymity. I despise those people who tell themselves that they have to escape their lives in order to truly “find” themselves: if they’re off somewhere else, the only self they’ll “find” is surely not really their true self. In order to find that person, I believe you have to be in the the thick of your own existence.
So what do you do if, in the thick of your own existence, you realize that you haven’t been paying attention to said existence? Or maybe if it’s not that you haven’t been paying attention- it’s just that suddenly, for whatever reason, you can’t find a way to adequately assess- and express- your own thoughts.
I felt as though I were on the cusp of something colossal- some huge improvement upon the way in which I were thinking, acting and feeling. I was on the edge of discovery, a native of the desert, standing on a cliff with the salty spray of the ocean mist in my face. I could taste it- feel it- but I was paralyzed as I tried desperately to consider what it would feel like to be immersed in the water. It put me on edge. I felt as though, if I could have just one more moment of anxious searching in silence, I would get my answer. The words would come to me- the vision, the plan, the calling- the “anything” that I had been waiting for would come. I restrained myself for one more moment, then another. And another.
And then the patience snapped like a rubber band that had been stretched too far. I was wrenched from the cliff, back to the sandy dunes of the mundane trappings of everyday humdrum.
It’s a cruel trick that I play on myself sometimes. I hope that we all have the optimism to believe that we each have at least a tiny slither of excellence in us: a contribution that, if executed with enough grace and unique sophistication, could have the power to alter worlds. Tapping into this channel, however, proves to be the most challenging and most daunting of tasks to face.
After much thoughtful reflection, I have concluded that I am somewhat out of practice. I have spend the better part of the past two years building a fortress around myself- I was comfortable for a time, concentrating on the heavy and repetitive cinder blocks that I stacked, one on top of the other, until a wall reached high above my head. It is a superficially satisfying activity- you trick yourself into thinking that you have done everything necessary to protect yourself. When you’ve been hurt so intensely, it’s easy to believe this is the most rewarding activity you could ever do for yourself.
The detrimental effect of this is, of course, something that you don’t quite realize until a perfectly tragic moment of no particular significance. Regardless, it comes to you. You realize that there’s a wall where your window should be, and you’re paying for a view of the ocean anyway. You feel stupid for a moment- you suddenly see the light and realize that you’ve wasted a lot of your own time. Yeah, you’re stronger for having lifted so many cinderblocks. You just wish you could have done things differently.
In this poignant moment, you acknowledge your ridiculous vulnerability- take a deserved moment to mourn that you have arrived at this moment- and then you know that you can’t stay suspended in this cylinder of time. You have to move on.
The only good news I can think of is that building the wall has made you strong enough to tear it down.