Friday, February 18, 2011

The Overwhelming: Part I

When did it begin?  Where does and imperative to saturate one’s existence with the incredible originate?  What does it mean when the instinctual impulse is so potentially self-negating?

As a kid I didn’t just climb trees, nor did I fall from trees- I leapt from trees.  It wasn’t an early conversation with thrill seeking or mischievous enthrallment – it was a harbinger towards my persistently feeling out boundaries as if I were kicking tires.

I think it started with music.  I’ve always had the ear for synchronizing sense data with song.  Headphones where an extension of my perception.  Something adding a texture to everything my eyes would take in and causing a resonance that accelerated absorption of…what?  Anyway, it was, and is, overwhelming.

Of course, my initial understandings of this were misdirected.  One thinks transcendental when something antipodal to otherness is occurring.  It’s frightening to believe this immensity of sensation inhabits your own intrinsic frequency.

And so sensitivity developed towards excess long before I was near any traditional substance of abuse.  (There was time enough for that later) 

So, I abused at fever pitch all the music, literature, road trips, and romance I could before I was 18.  My friends would keep lists of my ‘full hearted’ endeavors.  I threw myself into things on whim and so utterly completely to invoke, rightly so, myself as shallow and submersed within the trenches of passions.  It was beautifully nonsensical and disastrous, more often than not. 

But I felt only accomplishment in my dismal failures.  For my failures were stories that I could tell while all others would remain mute, or speak mildly of some trite success.

So was this early sensitivity a nodding towards insecurity?  An incompleteness or inability to recognize anything genuine in myself?

I don’t know.

I just wanted to hit that moment when there was too much to bear and then bear it.  When there was too much to carry and I held on.  Where I wanted to die, and didn’t.

This was there on my cross-country bike ride on the plains outside of Aberdeen, South Dakota having just peddled 100 miles of prairie with Tori Amos’ Little Earthquakes on my headphones. 

It was there when 2 years of devotion culminated in crossing the finish line at Kona and the single greatest anti-climax of my life occurred days later when I landed in Newark.

All across Australia while on tour I had to carefully monitor the music on my iPod, as an overwhelming sense of grandeur accompanied by overwhelming loss imbued every dear friend that came in and out of my life as fast as heartbeats. 

Walking the low veldt of Swaziland with Iron & Wine on the headphones, watching the starving starve and the dying die.  Too much, as well.  And I wanted it all the more.

That’s what I wanted, and that’s what I want.  To be in over my head without recourse, save embracing the overdose of emotion and sensation.

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