You’ve probably noticed by now that I can be a tad intense. People often regret attracting my attention, because it can feel a bit like the Eye of Sauron. It’s not that bad, really it isn’t.
There is a rhythm to my intensity. It starts off very small. Something catches my attention. I observe it with interest. My curiosity is aroused. Questions form which push me to find answers. At this point I decide whether to pursue the initial interest or not. It is usually too tempting to resist, but I like to pretend I have a choice. If I pursue it further, then I look at it through a magnifying glass, trying to discern what it really is. The next step is to pin it down to dissect it, slice it into parts which can be viewed under a microscope. The more I focus my attention upon it, the more I lose focus of everything else around me. My mind turns into an extremely precise laser, whilst my body turns into a klutz machine. As my focus builds in intensity, internal pressure reaches a crescendo, the climax of which is usually an explosion of bumbling accidents. Chaos ensues.
This used to upset me. The seriousness which always accompanies my intenseness would be completely humiliated by the prat-falling clown who would turn up at a critical moment in a silly car, honking an outrageously loud and annoying horn, causing havoc in a very tidy room. I would crumble in a flood of furious indignation, everything was ruined, all the work, careful planning, preparation, study, appeared to have been thrown into a shredder, and turned into multi-coloured confetti, which covered everything, and I would have to waste precious time cleaning the mess up rather than trying to salvage whatever scraps remained of my hard work.
Why could I never get anything right, why did I always ruin everything, what was wrong with me, did I hate myself so much that I had to sabotage everything good in my life, and so on. I got very sick and tired of having to ask these painful questions, which were not questions at all, but critical accusations. Failure just dogged everything I did, and I was fed up of being a failure, of making mistakes, of being a stupid idiot. I was stuck in a vicious circle, a large out of control blender which inevitably messed everything up. It just kept happening over and over again and again.
When something occurs over and over again. It is usually trying to get your attention. Patterns want to be noticed and examined. They have an important message to impart. Understanding that message is very tricky as you need to be able to step aside, out of yourself, your life, your dramas. To observe yourself with detachment. So much easier said than done, especially when the dramas are so compelling, and secretly fun in a twisted and tortured way. It is like being inside of a soap opera, instead of just watching it. Watching it makes everything obvious, predictable, dull, whereas being inside of it obscures the obvious, making it hard to grasp and very mysterious.
I eventually managed to step out of my serious and intense drama for a minute to ponder the problem, to apply my focus on to it, to observe the process, step by step, to dissect it, and see what revelation it had to give me. The juxtaposition of intensely serious focus, and completely ridiculous farcical behaviour seemed to happen so regularly, that I wondered whether they were linked in a way which was not as desperately depressing as self sabotage which could not be stopped until I destroyed myself irrevocably. I focused upon the focus itself. As it built in intensity, so did the seriousness, and so did stress. Internal pressure like steam in a cooker. At some point there would have to be a release. That is when the clown stepped in. It was the task of the crazy klutz to lift the lid off of the pressure cooker and allow the steam to escape before my brain exploded from too much thinking. The disaster was not a disaster at all, but a disaster preventer.
What I believed to be self sabotage was actually an antidote administered by my inner doctor. Silliness was a cure for my seriousness. It was there to balance me. Give me laughter. Joy. And a good dose of don’t take yourself and life so seriously or you’ll ruin the fun of it. Make it unbearably grim. Unliveable. Take a time out. Have a giggle. Put the grin in grin and bear it.
I guess that’s why I like Face/Off so much. My favourite line in that movie is when Castor Troy says to Sean Archer “But you’re still not having any fun.”. It stuck with me. It would pop into my head whenever I was taking life too seriously, focusing too intensely on a problem, and mock me, like Castor Troy mocking Sean Archer.
Life is a mix of silly and serious, too much of one creates a need for more of the other. They are both necessary for survival. And they work together as allies, even though sometimes they seem like they are natural enemies. Seeing the silly side of the serious, and the serious side of the silly can be very enlightening.
Some of my greatest discoveries, most satisfying aha moments, have come from the ashes of the clown klutz’s destruction. The one I cherish the most is, of course, the moment I came to see that the chaos created by my silliness was not actually destroying all the hard work of my seriousness, but was the culmination of it. It was the fireworks celebrating the end of the process. It was very liberating. I learned to no longer fear the bumbling clown as its arrival announced the end of a cycle of intensity, and ushered in a time of lighthearted fun.
There is more to this, but the klutz turned up in all its glory yesterday evening and I’m in a scattered confetti of focus mood today. Relaxed, and just chilling in the mess of what was a very tidy room earlier in the day.
So, What opposing character traits do you have which seem like enemies, but are actually allies?