Leap of Faith… Redux

May 8, 2008 · Print This Article

I recently stumbled across the following post, which I wrote way, waaaay back in May of ’05. In all honesty, it made my heart hurt a little to re-read it. Who knew I could be introspective and poignant? Sometimes? Okay, I may have even teared up a bit. Just a little! I know, right? Me? BIG BABY. Deal with it. Re-reading the post also inspired in me a wicked craving for a donut. Go figure.

In any event, I thought I would share. Or, rather, re-share. Share again? Whatev. You know what I’m saying.

_______________________________

I have no desire to be enigmatic.

But it is a scary place, my mind. Crowded with jumbled imagery and intricate stories and trivial pop culture references, with nowhere to go. All of the craziness shuffles and scuffles to be forefront in my mind, to be most important. To be first. “Let me out!” it all screams, because it has to go somewhere, right?

Sometimes, when I read a book or I see a movie, I catch the mood of the piece, and I cannot shake it. I am there, and woe unto any who try to break in, to find me. I am in it, and only I can find my way back out. I am not even sure if that makes sense, but it is most definitely the case.

I mean, I know other people can read a book and put it down. Me? I read the fifth Harry Potter book in one night. ONE NIGHT! That freaking book is over 800 pages long! Honestly. It can take me literally hours to stop worrying about the characters in which I have invested my time. I feel their pain, their joy, their despair, their triumphs. If the book is particularly well-done, if the characters are alive, if the mood is fully realized, then it can take me hours to stop feeling the book. To let go of it.

Other people can watch a particularly riveting television show or movie and walk away thinking, “Huh. Good show! What’s for dinner?” Me? I become emotionally invested in the characters. I will obsess about their lives and the “what if’s” for days on end. Weeks, even. Now do not misunderstand. This is not to say I cannot separate the fictional characters from reality. No worries. I absolutely can. What I cannot do, not right away, anyway, is to stop thinking about their stories. Taking them in new directions. I will spend hours weaving new stories for them. Sometimes I even dream new stories. But Leonardo da Vinci said, The eye sees a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination awake. Dude was a wise Renaissance man, yo?

Which leads me to this: when I write stories? Oh BOY. I am SO living them. And it is so exciting! I get to be someone else! Well, for a little while, anyway. I become Goddess of the Story Universe! Bow to me! Then, inevitably, my characters begin growing and acting out in ways I had not intended, and I just get to go with it, and it is GOOD. Of course, I think this is why I enjoy happy ending so much, formulaic cliche be damned. I need them, or I am lost. Then again, my endings are not always happy. And I absolutely hate that, because I ache for my characters. But I love it, too.

For a long time I thought this craziness had a name. I HAD to give it a name. I was surely bipolar. Manically depressed. Obviously. It was the only explanation for the mood swings, the black days, the deep-rooted dark despair that settled into my mind and would not let go. Right? And what sane, happy person loses herself in television and books? Huh? Normal people with three beautiful kids and TGIM don’t act this way, right? Am I RIGHT?! I hated my career choice, my living situation, my life, and I could not shake the feeling that something was terribly, terribly WRONG with me, because everyone I knew insisted I should be happy, that I should be thankful, that I should just STOP wallowing and get on with living. And I wanted to. I WANTED TO. But I was stuck. So I turned to the happy pills. But the drugs? They did not help. Dispassionateness, for me, was not a cure. It was a bandage.

“You are just like my ex-husband,” my sister said to me. “You can be anything you want to be. Anything but happy.”

Oh, no she DIDN’T.

So I ripped it off that bandage. And I made CHANGES.

I found a job writing and quit my teaching job. I packed up and moved all the way across the United States, not sure when and if TGIM would follow, but sure it was the right thing to do. I began expressing the jumbled imagery, intricate ideas, and trivial pop culture references swirling about in my mind through the magical world of blogging. I made new friends. I discovered the words “job satisfaction” were not mutually exclusive. I pulled myself out of the rut of complacency and fear in which I was trapped and made some personally earth-shattering decisions regarding what I wanted out of life. And, yes, I hurt TGIM and others close to me in the process and, yes, almost lost everything. I know that. I OWN that. But these days? I’m starting to feel as if despite the excruciating pain I caused myself and others, I have gained everything.

TGIM thinks this is The Crazy in me. Sometimes he loves me for it, sometimes… not so much. Me? I am starting to believe The Crazy is simply the artistic temperament in me. And, slowly, oh so slowly, I am learning to embrace it. I am learning how to USE it, to hone it, to bend it to my infinite megalomaniacal will, mwah ha ha ha!…

Sorry.

The other day I stumbled across a quote by Edvard Munch, the artist formerly known as the man who painted The Scream. Okay, he is still known as that, I just like the allusion to Prince. Because Prince ROCKS. Anywhos, Munch wrote of the experience he had which triggered the creation of this masterpiece:

I was out walking with two friends – the sun began to set – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an endless scream passing through nature.

As I read this I realized, hey, sometimes I sense that Endless Scream, too. I hear it! I KNOW it. And, slowly, I am learning to embrace it. I am learning how to USE it. I know, I know. Inscrutable, much? Talk to my family. But, then again, if I did not see the world this way, if I did not feel the world this way, how could I write? And writing? Makes me feel complete. Utterly, dizzyingly complete.

Well, writing, and a big ol’ cinnamon cake donut. Yummmmmm.

Take that, big sister. I CAN be happy.

Comments

3 Responses to “Leap of Faith… Redux”

  1. RC on May 8th, 2008 1:10 pm

    I needed this today. How did you know I needed this?!?!?

    You have a camera trained on my brain and in my world, don’t you?

    Okay, enough of my crazy paranoia, but thank you for somehow posting something I needed to read today. I’m standing on the edge of the cliff right now, waiting to see if I can fly with the changes I’m looking to make. And I needed the reassurance that I’m doing the right thing. The thing that needs to be done.

    Can’t blog about it right now, as I have readers that I can’t share this with right now, but my situation sounds strangely similar to your situation then.

    Take care and don’t cringe. Writing is about putting a piece of yourself on display. Forever. A piece that might not be there as you change and mature, but it is a piece of you.

  2. William on May 9th, 2008 7:45 am

    I have not read this before because I am sure I would have remembered it. I am glad you reposted. I too get invested in characters from books and Tv shows and I know exactly how you felt/feel.

    Happiness, Creative Energy, Artistic endeavors are all like fruit. They need to be squeezed a little bit to get the juice. Sometimes if the fruit sits too long it ferments and becomes bad vinegar or Wine. Or Whine for that matter.

  3. Debbie on June 2nd, 2008 3:51 pm

    I so know what you’re saying! That totally hapened to me when saw “The Other Boleyn Girl” .

    So whatever happened with the Nathan Bransford entry? Are Dean and Juliet still riding in the car? See, you’re not the only one who wonders about these characters you read about….

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