It's 1970-something in Pittsburgh.The air is still thick with the humidity of the sweltering day and even the darkness doesn’t relieve the throbbing heat. As my siblings and I sit on the back porch, we watch the fireflies sparking in the blackness of the back yard. My sister and I get a jar and collect the flying lights. We’ll take it to our bedside and let their flickers be a comforting nightlight as we drift off to sleep on top of the cool sheets. But in the morning when we wake up, the bugs will lay dead or dying in the bottom of their glassed captivity. We should have savored their sparks for just a short time, and then let them go back to their freedom.
I’ve often been told I’m way too introspective; I over-analyze. I think too much. You name the phrase that speaks to my processing monkey mind, and it probably fits. The thing is, I’ve always felt like it’s been tossed at me like an accusation, something I need to fix.
I admit it gets in the way sometimes. When I try to still my spirit and listen, I can barely shut down the ticker tape of thoughts constantly scrolling through my head. Acts of meditation-- focusing on my breathing and quieting my mind-- are like giving a sugar-addicted person a piece of luscious chocolate cake and then forbidding its consumption. I immediately fixate on the taboo: my stream of consciousness.
I’ve...of course...given this topic a lot of thought. I do over-analyze, think too much, regurgitate endlessly on topics, sometimes to my detriment. But after a lifetime of having this quality pointed out, I'm beginning to suspect that if it’s part of my personality make-up I might as well embrace it instead of constantly trying to modify it.
Maybe it’s a trait common to artists—whether we are constantly telling ourselves a story, contemplating an insight, visualizing a stroke of color and design, or hearing a chord rich with layers of tone. Maybe the constant chatter is a friend, collected fireflies in the jar sparking with ideas. This year, I need to take the lid off more and give the ideas their freedom. I need to write. Otherwise, I risk suffocating their precious flickers.
|Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh.|