“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
Back and forth, I paced through the living room, burrowing a path in my wake while my thoughts and anxieties replicate the pattern in my head. Wrapped up in some proverbial search for enlightenment, I’ve become consumed with undulating emotion that I’ve yet to find a way to express. Walking a thin line between loneliness and simply being alone, I try and covet each second like a blanket fresh out of the dryer yet I’m still beside myself, slightly disillusioned and mostly out of touch with my core. It feels like emotional betrayal wrapped inside internal disintegration; the champagne supernova in my veins spilling over unwittingly, spiraling into a black hole. I swear, I used to be at peace with myself.
Through empirical and existential experimentation, I’ve discovered that the self is a fragile entity, bound tightly by rhetoric and coddled by the ego. Let love, kindness, happiness, curiosity and wonder in and the self opens like a blossoming flower; restrict any of these, replace them with dishonesty, jealousy, envy, belittlement or callousness and the self shrivels up and dries out, only to delicately crumble under its own weight. Every once in a while, we need an outstretched hand and warm smile, a delightful emotional sprinkling of honest goodness; as people we need to be wanted – as blooming entities, we need to be watered. Yet, we often forget that in order to maintain fulfilling external relationships, we have to be in tune with ourselves, we have to tune and play to our own resonant frequency without being drowned out by the chorus of noise around us.
We come into this life alone and leave it in a similar fashion, yet somehow along the way we become convinced that we as we are aren’t enough. We’ve become subjugated by the notion that in our present state we aren’t enough, we give into the idea that we have to become more than we are. Get good grades to get into a good school, so you can have a good job – and your life will be good; so we give in, ascribe to a system that we inherently know we don’t want to be part of in order to appease everyone, except maybe ourselves. Thrust onto the world, we’re perpetually in search of the niche that we fit and the keys to the locks that release our chains and set us free; often forgetting that buried inside ourselves is the skeleton key, under layers of thick skin we’ve built to wall ourselves off and protect what we feel most delicately and deeply about.
For every reaction, there’s an equal and opposite reaction – this is as true for physics as in life, but it can be difficult to understand where, in this chicken and the egg spectrum, your pushing on the world ends and it’s pulling at your heartstrings begins. For the past few months, I’ve felt separated from myself, setting forth an internal domino effect that’s forayed into my external life. In becoming emotionally withdrawn, I became physically withdrawn, lethargic, apathetic and distrusting; opposed to work and even play, my smiles were fleeting and slightly contrived. I was lonely even though I wasn’t alone, an island that wished it was landlocked, forgetting it’s part of a bigger landscape. Finally, I broke out of my shell, shucked my thick skin in favor of a light soul; I resolved to rediscover myself, to unfold inwards and expand outwards, to fluidly move forward instead of passively pausing.
Somewhere in the two steps forward, one step back waltz of life, we forget that we need to be the leader and the follower. That to be at ease with the world around us, we have to calm the calamity within. Whether it’s the schoolyard gossip spiked by adult behavior or feeling over-inundated with world tragedies, the world has weighed heavy on my shoulders lately and I haven’t been able to shake it off and set it straight. Writing is my refuge, my safety net, my confidant and my therapy yet lately when thoughts bubble to my surface I play emotional whack-a-mole to drive them further inside, down to my core.
When words fail, music speaks – the sheer emotional power of a song can be unfounded, but in one way or another we all believe. Music calls to me, like the howling wind on a desert night or a brightly lit path on a lonely night and on Saturday it felt like the music was beckoning me, flirting with my faculties and seducing my sense as I entered the Shrine. The four to the floor rhythm catalyzed my energy while a glow of sheer ecstasy emanated from the crowd; leave it to the dance floor to set me free. Embarking on the evenings auditory adventure, the trials and tribulations of my external world fell to the wayside while the music consumed me. Each and every person there has a world inside them that’s twisting, contorting and spiraling; but for one night, we were able to put our worries aside and plunge into life.
Losing ourselves to rhythm, our limbs eagerly erupted into harmonic movement. In discovering the we between you and I, we pass each other in elegant dance instead of silent ships in the night, as if saying ‘the chaos in me acknowledges the chaos in you.‘ Though we might have arrived alone, we come together in symphony while marinating in the miracle of each moment, undulating as one giant organism. The dance floor is our savior, the music is our sanctuary and the DJ is our saint. Those who fancy themselves religious have their church on Sunday, but my church congregates in the depths of the night to create new bonds and forge deeper relationships, with the world and most importantly – within ourselves.
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche