Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Denial Twist

Possible indication that I’ve been watching quite a bit of Heroes recently: I quickly stood up from my desk and through whatever strange combination of how I moved my head and the drafts in the basement I heard a very quick whoosh and felt a bit of pressure on my eardrum. My immediate thought? Oh my gosh! I bet there’s an invisible person in this basement who had to move out of the way so that I didn’t run into them! The only thing that convinced me that that maybe wasn’t the first possibility? I realized that if someone could be invisible there is no way they would hang around at a credit union. Unless they wanted to use my system to wire loads of money to their various bank accounts . . . oh no, I’ve started it off again.

As an awkward sidestep away from my neurosis, I’m going to abruptly change the subject.

I’ve been contemplating the subject of simplicity for a week now, ever since Zach and I went to a concert that featured the King Singer’s performance of the Shaker’s Hymn with it’s opening lines “It’s a gift to be simple, it’s a gift to be free/It’s a gift to come down where we ought to be.”

Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of the song or the sentiment—mostly because the very idea of ever being identified as simple has been abhorrent to me. I’ve always considered the key feature of myself and other “interesting” people (yes, I consider myself interesting, someone has to) was how complicated we are. I like peeling back layers of sentiment and motive, and one of the things I love best about myself is my clashing and confusing lists of interests and priorities.

To a certain extent, I still stick to that attitude. It’s sorta left over from my teenage obsession and present latent reaction to anyone trying to “label me.” But for the first time, during that concert the idea of the gift of simplicity really stuck, and I think for the very first time I paid attention to the next two lines as well.

Because it really would be a gift to know where you ought to be and to be there, and it would be so freeing to be “simply” yourself: no need for subterfuge, justification, or long long blog posts overanalyzing every corner of your psyche. Isn’t the definition of freedom the power to determine action without restraint? (It is, cause I just looked it up). So based on that, it really would be the greatest gift to live life simply, to react honestly to news and people, to pursue what makes you happy whole-heartedly, to shun things that repulse you without apology.

Just to clarify, this is not me throwing up the white flag and surrendering the quirky aspects of my personality. I would never be the spokesperson for slapping a coat of paint over the tiny details and intricate graffiti that individual experiences have left on our souls. Far from it. What I’m talking about is a conceptual foundation for the utopia I will someday build, a world where contradicting terms within a person don’t provoke anger or dismissal but are "simply" accepted as a part of one’s unique makeup. Someday, in this perfect world, people are going to find that niche in the world where they should be and throw their hands up in a rock fist of joy and celebrate the gift that simple clarity and honest acceptance of our strengths and weaknesses have left us with.

So to reassert what I’m talking about, I am not campaigning for the abolishment of nuance or the banning of individuality and eccentricities. I’m promoting the idea that the ideal to strive for is honesty of purpose and candidness of motivation. To truly know thyself, and to trust that same duty to everyone around you, to not take it upon yourself to pin others with what it is they should want/be. The dream is to be so certain in your own place that the wants, expectations, and demands of peers and parental figures don’t buckle you down or make you doubt that what you are is worthwhile.

That was a little more abstract and high-falutin' than I usually go for, must be all the Aimee Mann that has been popping up on my Pandora station. I’ll kick back with some Portishead and decompress.