Thursday, February 17, 2011

Billy Joel - Moving Out

Here's some things I learned yesterday: not everything I do that's scary is interesting to write about. Also not every scary thing I do is appropriate to write about. So let me just punch the fear clock this morning by letting you know I did one thing at work that was frightening and one thing in my personal life. Just trust me on this and we'll move on. Great.

Here is what I thought: 

* The world would easily provide me with a wonderful array of terrifying things to choose from on the everyday path of my existence.
* I would recognize fear as an emotion and a sensation enough to make note of it.
* I would not have to manufacture any stunts in order to comply with the rules I have set up for myself in this project.
* Anything that struck me as scary would make for interesting reporting. 
* I would be willing and open to sharing all discoveries here on the World Wide Interweb.

I thought a lot about when I was younger and I seemed to do daring things on a more regular basis. I would pack up my car and move to a place I'd never been. Now, looking back, I realize that while this is an exciting event, a scary event, and most assuredly a recurring event that changed my life fundamentally each time it happened, the moving was far less terrifying to me than the staying where I was at any given time. Moving meant that things had become intensely socially awkward, romantically tragic, or emotionally mired in the muck of mild but manageable depression. So while moving was, in fact, doing something scary, the larger truth was that it served as a massive diversionary tactic for my mind, and more importantly, my struggling and troubled heart. Moving was what some folks call, "pulling a geographic", a common delusional attempt to avoid the problems you have ultimately packed up to take in the car with you. Because YOU are in the car. You are driving a deathtrap machine, Fugazi blaring, Black Sabbath, Public Enemy, and uh, James Taylor, and you're singing along to every lyric, high on denial and flight. 

Generally, that feeling was akin to paradise for me. 

It turns out that fear manifests itself, for me, in a wide array of physical sensations. There is a feeling of velocity whirring behind my breastplate, a heat that rises to my cheeks, a rosacea blooming across my face telling the tale of my little terrors. My face stretches in strange ways when I talk and I have trouble making eye contact. Even today in meetings, when I force myself to voice an opinion of dissent, no matter how insignificant, my cheeks burn. I also begin to feel myself drifting into two. There is the rush ruling my internal reality, and a floating that takes over the external. The sense that I am making choices out of a clear agency evaporates like that alcohol laden hand sanitizer and I begin to experience the world happening to me rather than having the feeling that I making choices for myself in the world. And when this kind of detachment settles in, the autopilot switches on, and for periods of time from seconds to entire conversations, I float adrift, waiting to return to myself, my sense of acting from the heart, not reacting to this fear. I watch myself in my life, trying to fly the kite into the storm and shock myself back to honesty when the lightening strikes. 

That's part of the thing I think, that fear can serve in wonderful ways. Any emotional experience can, right? But what I'm searching for is to show up and actually experience it, let it come for me and fix it some green tea in a well lit reading chair. Be a friendly host, because most fear, if I look back, has served me quite well. 

Today I will walk out into the pouring rain, a rain similar to the one one I crashed my car in on a freeway in Northern California in 1994, rubbing the scar from that day on my skull, and I will try and recall what that felt like, feeling the car get away from me, spin over the yellow lines, watching the minivan approach, and wondering what all the noise was.

Sara Elise

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