When You Are One…

It can be breathtaking to witness the transformations of an individual who is enthralled with a creative endeavor or captivated by an idea. There’s a wildness about them—a distinct and untamed energy that is itself a force of great life. It is generative, self-perpetuating, and quite beautiful. An onlooker might wonder how one body can be regularly subjected to such consummation and continue to thrive. Those moments of intense energy, I tend to think, are generated by the confluence of a number factors and conditions. One of the most impactful, at least from my point of view, is a feeling of rawness, of extreme vulnerability, and exposure. It is a feeling, I think, that exists at the extremes of sensitivity. It’s as if, in the the process of coming together with your idea, you have been stripped bare, or split open and forced out of yourself.

There is a remarkable sensuality to it, really. An inherent eroticism. This feeling that you can connect more deeply than usual with the world around you. That you are almost one with it, and it with you.

abstract green lady

And yet, you may also feel as if you are taking in too much and yearn desperately to shrink away. Indeed, this isn’t an altogether pleasant state. It is both marvelous and painful. But, for some of us, it seems to be a necessary precondition to doing masterful work. For those of us who write, to write well —or to write our best—means to bleed on the page (or the screen). And if you’re not raw when you write, whatever you write will not be good enough, at least not to you.

Now, I normally give tips, based on my experience, for balancing and managing a creative life. But, I don’t have any advice on this one (which is why this post may end up shorter than most). This feeling of exposure—of being one. It seems to me that we either choose to allow ourselves to go there, or we don’t. (It can be dulled, or “turned off,” I think, to a degree.) Of course, it isn’t as if “going there” requires teetering on the brink of madness. But, it is uncomfortable. It is a gigantic wince. The kind of sensitivity that forces us to the edges of ourselves.

On the other hand, refusing that feeling can be a lot like starvation. Like only a part of you is living, while the other—perhaps your greatest life force—remains tethered, while you try to fill the void with other, more pleasant activities. But, that’s no way to live. I think that dealing with one’s sensitivity comes largely with age and experience. At least, that’s the way it happened for me. It is a balancing act, and a highly personal one at that. To simply “toughen up” is not an option. Self-acceptance is key. So is speaking kindly to yourself (and knowing how to stay calm). As for me, I’d rather live with the perils of sensitivity, wincing included, than shield myself from the wonders of exposure.

7 thoughts on “When You Are One…

  1. This is wonderful. It does look a bit Jekyll and Hyde don’t you think? Truth, or how we perceive it can be ugly and it is through mending and kneading that it becomes, tasteful. You did speak of rawness, that almost comes off cliche since everything and everyone now is raw and edgy.

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    1. Yes, it definitely does have a Jekyll and Hyde quality…and it’s interesting how dramatically different sides can exist within a person. You’re right, everyone is “raw” now. Truthfully, I didn’t think of that. Maybe “exposure” is closer to the real meaning.

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      1. Exposure, I like that. True, we are not always, one person but contain multitudes. Expression and self expression conflict with each in popular settings. I believe, we are back to culture. Our generation and millennials have this dual natured identity. Almost like Alice in Wonderland where the digital setting could be Wonderland and real life may not have those perks. We are two people maybe thousands of miles apart or sitting across from each other. Agreeing digitally, and maybe cutting each other off in traffic. Exposure in parallels or in sequence maybe.

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      2. Yeah, there is a big cultural component. And realizing that there exists a multitude within us and wanting to balance those opposing forces is definitely different from feeling fractured. Sometimes, I think technology (at least for some people) can deepen a kind of divide…like the dual-natured identity you suggest. But you’re right, you and I communicating this way is a perfect example…the real and the unreal… It’s like a kind of magical realism.

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      3. Consciousness. May play heavily on being divided. I don’t know what is more dangerous being enlightened to these inner conflicts or just another sleeping giant. The danger is in those moments where magic and reality seem to share the same space. Artists live there. Marquez wrote there and Hemingway, Cobain, and Cornell died there. I’m Native American and many tribes had the same ritual to sit at the edge of town. Change into a “proper” shirt and pants and conduct business. We never understood identity like modern cultures and the same with property. Natives had this closeness to their environment that no other culture has imitated. It was our downfall but is a good example of dual nature. The artificial environment was the city and to be in the city, the native also had to be artificial. Until the city became the new reality at which point the Native became artificial.

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    1. Great review! That book looks like a very practical tool…I am somewhat familiar with his work. And yes, there are significant elements of what might be considered “flow state” here, particularly that intense absorption. Thanks for reading!

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