Ricochet

God, how I ricochet between certainties and doubts.

Sylvia Plath

Many of us struggle consistently with the teeter-totter affect of feeling nearly-invincible as if we have everything under complete control and then being flung back into an area of deep doubt and anxiety. Artists and creatives especially know the feeling all too well and it can be, quite simply, unbearable.

Plath never quite conquered it and eventually took her own life but at some point she had come to a place where she felt comfortable at being “true to her own weirdness” – I think most of us at some point have to reconcile this tension as well.

I wish she had not given up so early in her life (age 30) and had continued to write the incredible short-stories and poetry that earned her a Pulitzer and more. She is credited with helping to advance what we now call confessional poetry which is exactly what you imagine it to be – deeply personal writing about topics that, at the time, were taboo (e.g. sexuality, mental illness, and suicide).

It’s honestly hard to imagine writing from any other place as most great stories and narratives contain at the very least traces of personal experience. Personally I don’t know how to write from any other perspective – call it confessional blogging if you will but it is what it is.

I do not like the fact that I can wake up one morning and feel as if the world was created uniquely for me as if I am the very center of the universe and that everything was in lockstep with how I perceive the world to be (and how I desire it to be) and then the very next morning feel exactly the opposite as if I was created to be the antithesis of all created things.

Perhaps you do not feel these things as strongly as I do but we’ve all been there in a variety of forms, you know, when you wake up and all feels right with the world and then on a different day things feel terribly amiss. Plath, who suffered with depression was on the more extreme scale of things but she represents much of all our shared human experiences.

Some of us experience this “ricochet” with relationships, some with jobs and our work, and on more microscopic levels we may feel this in our day-to-day when we try to decide something as small as where to go for lunch or if we should gather the courage to say “Hi” to that special someone who we’ve wanted to acknowledge publicly but now is not the “right” time and we’re never quite sure when the “right” time is or will ever be.

We bounce, we fall, we rise, we land and we often focus too much on these ups and downs as the center of our very lives. We want to blend our egocentricity with a deep appreciation and perspective of sociocentricity but it all feels like an incredible burden; too much to bear.

But if we can extricate ourselves from focusing too much on the ups and downs and rather on the much larger things in life then I believe we have a fighting chance, one that doesn’t end up with putting our heads deep into a kitchen oven and turning it on (I’m not making light of Plath’s method or result, by the way).

The difficult truth is that help comes from without, not from within which requires us to be courageous in our openness and transparency, as painful as it might and will be. We may feel as if we are being destroyed but in time we may eventually be able to say, in deep retrospect, that we truly lived.