"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
emo-tion Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French, from emouvoir to stir up, from Old French esmovoir, from Latin emovEre to remove, displace, from e- + movEre to move
1 a obsolete : DISTURBANCE b : EXCITEMENT
2 a : the affective aspect of consciousness : FEELING b : a state of feeling c : a psychic and physical reaction (as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling and physiologically involving changes that prepare the body for immediate vigorous action
3 : in people like me, either supercharged or dead, depending on the day.
"I thought you said the name of a play I am doing," she said.
"So you're an actress?"
"Yes," she smiled, and I was not surprised. You could tell looking at her that she would be very comfortable on stage, and quite captivating.
You would never know that she was sick like me. And that's as it should be too, and no surprise either, since so many of the people who share my illness are for all practical purposes 100% functional.
We ride emotional rollercoasters that reach heights and dive to depths unknown by other humans. Yet, we have to function in normal human society, with normal human relationships, alongside others who can't possibly ever understand us. Since we can't bring a person to see what we see and feel what we feel, we use every trick we know to make ourselves look like them, even when we don't feel anything like it.
Outside, we are calm, cool, collected, even jovial and ingratiating. Inside, we are floods of tears, buckets of turmoil and fire, or vast empty voids.
A lot of us become very, very good actors. Even professionally. Like Carrie Fisher, Linda Hamilton, Margot Kidder, Ben Stiller, Jean Claude Van Damme, Jonathan Winters, Drew Barrymore.
We simply have to become something. If we don't, we'll explode. Every one of us has something we do to find our catharsis in creativity. Acting is one outlet. Or maybe music, poetry, painting, sculpture, even chess.
We can't really help it. It just happens. It just erupts from us in our up cycles and we retreat into it in our down cycles.
And from this, I think, arises one of the oddest things about this illness.
There is a real stigma in our society about bipolar disorder. A lot of people look on those who admit having this disease as if they are strange, wierd, creepy (Admittedly, some people who claim to have bipolar are just strange, wierd and creepy. We're not talking about them.) And yet, those same people that shun this illness will go through their days humming songs, watching movies, reading books and magazines which are created by people with this very illness and expressing what it feels like to have this illness.
Many times, words just fail to express what is in us. If I say the word "depressed" or the word "sad" it means one thing to a person without this illness, but it means something to a factor of ten greater to someone with the illness. The same words, and two utterly different places.
So we write and we create and we act and we sing and we dance trying to express what's in us, and failing. But I think that somehow in the process, we do manage to capture what others are feeling, others that may not ever have to be hauled kicking and screaming into our depths or flung flaming and sparkling to our heights.
It's OK. They don't have to. That's our job.
From great emotions come great compassions.
Acting, imagining, creating, even empathy. All are, in the long run, nothing more than controlled illusions. In art, in creation, in love, there is always some madness, some reaching beyond the normal and mundane to birth something that transcends the gray here and now.
That's what makes it valuable, beautiful, perfect. That touch of madness.
Well. As for me, I'm going to look into getting a couple of tickets to a play.
We're actors - we're the opposite of people.
Tom Stoppard (1937 - ),
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (1967)