I used to claim that writing was my way of “figuring things out” by revisiting moments of my life that held impact. Writing was a purposeful, active form of interpretation in which meaning could be drawn from each of my experiences. I could frame certain moments to create a sense of continuous, progressive plot. The plot of my life, ever on the up. I liked tying off the end of each short story with some great epiphany.
A meaning, a lesson. A silver lining.
I was figuring myself out. I was deciding what it all meant. But through this process of meaning-making, an emptiness was developing. Not in everything I wrote, but in the pieces about the hard, recent subjects – the ones that lacked a clear purpose because I was still living out the experiences. I was writing with the intentions of dictating how each piece was supposed to make the reader feel, and since the main purpose of my writing is to understand what is going on in my own head, I realized I was trying to tell myself how to feel.
I was writing about a thought process more than an actual moment. I was removing myself from experiencing the irrational, unplanned emotion that attaches a person to the present, by reinterpreting the script after the fact. The more I tried to make sense of things, the more disconnected I felt. What I truly needed was to reattach to the now.
And sometimes I felt trapped. Any emotion that could not be interpreted as “happy” created a sense of anxiety. I was a “happy person.” If I felt unhappy for too long than it meant something had to be wrong… so I unknowingly spent portions of my time in a place of artificial happiness, or numbness. Numbness erased sad, angry, scared. Numbness pulled me out of myself, through myself, or deep within myself depending on what the situation required. Numbness helped me to rewrite the endings, to smooth the edges of each experience so that all the pieces of my life fit together as one whole.
Yet I wanted to stop feeling the need to create a purpose and meaning behind everything. I wanted this in my writing and I wanted it in my daily life. I revisited memories of moments when I had felt most present and alive. They all shared one major similarity – a sense of timeless connectedness that disregarded all that which had come before and all that which would come after. To just simply be. To just simply feel. Nothing outside those moments could change what they meant when I was in them. I could never analyze or mold them together into something that collectively made sense.
But perhaps it all is not meant to make sense. Perhaps each moment of life is just a moment in time. A story to be told. A jagged piece that doesn’t have to fit in with everything else because it isn’t supposed to. Perhaps that story is an entity in itself. And with each consecutive moment, I am telling the story of a different person at a different instant in time. The point is not to figure out how these stories and versions of the self fit together, but to welcome in as many moments of feeling as possible. To live the experience of who I am now, in this moment, regardless of what it means to the overarching plot.
When I ventured away from “happy” without the protection of numbness, and felt the unalterable truths of the life I was living.