Thursday, March 17, 2011

"The beauty destroys you, not the pain." Taz Mopula

Manic Depression (Bipolar Disorder) has bestowed innumerable gifts upon me; one of the most practical, and wonderful, is the ability to cry. Like so many other mundane aspects of life, I was slow to appreciate this primal activity. My parents came from cultures where the display of emotion was anathema, a grotesque admission of defeat and worse, bad form. To compound the problem, both spent their formative years in a daily battle for existence, making Stoicism utilitarian as well as philosophical. Essentially their position was; if you must experience emotions then at least have the decency to keep them to yourself.

Like so many of us, I discovered that emotions could be hidden under layer upon layer of illusion until they became invisible to all. The spontaneous, involuntary expression of feelings seemed like the province of simple, unsophisticated people. Oddly, I thought of laughter as an intellectual activity, I did not yet understand it as the mirror image of weeping.

I was wrapped so tightly with repression back then that I believed, on some subliminal level, that if, at long last, I did cry – I would never be able to stop. I was a stranger to emotion; for decades I didn’t think I had any feelings at all. But mania cracked me open and bats covered the landscape. Fear, rage, resentment, envy, shame; it was overwhelming and undeniable.

Mania can be thought of as a state of being where instinct overrules all of one’s governing forces. In this respect one sees, and feels, one’s true emotional landscape with vivid clarity, whether one wants to or not. In mania, and intense depression, one’s nerves and feelings are on the outside of one’s skin, one experiences everything intensely. How you respond is almost unimportant, what is important is that you are unable to process stimuli successfully.

The world is always the same, whether you laugh or cry is up to you – these are simply two different ways of reacting. But if you believe you feel nothing, you are kidding yourself; you are a stranger to yourself.

Everything Makes You Cry

Morning mist enveloping
Silent lake at dawn

Letter in the flowing hand
Of someone who is gone

Slow approach of
Footsteps crunching
On a gravel path

Waves of fireflies ascend
Into endless dark

Far too precious and
Lovely to endure

Everything makes you cry

Alistair McHarg

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