So, Joy and the Mind Cave

Today is the day. It is finally here. After months of talking about it, months of sharing thoughts about it, months of anticipation and a longing for this day…it is finally here. The NFL regular season starts today!

Okay, I get that that is not exciting to many people, and really, I want to discuss this broken part of myself, not the NFL.

You see, I have been anticipating this day, I do love to watch the NFL, but I am a half person. When facing something that I have been excited for for a while, vacation, guitar lessons, NFL, whatever it is. I go through that excitement, I make plans, I am all ready, but on the day, as it is happening, I shut down. I slide into myself and don’t allow the experience.

I don’t know why I do this. I do know that it takes a conscious effort to pull myself back out of the comfy little mind cave and rejoin the world.

Is it fear that causes this withdrawal? Is it the depression? Is it too overwhelming, like when there is too much light on a summer morning when the curtain is thrown open and your eyes cannot deal with it? Is that why I withdraw? Is there a way to stop this from happening? Do I want to stop this from happening?

I think I do. I appreciate that my mind cave has been a place of safety. I can’t be hurt there, because I don’t value anything there. It is a place of detachment, a security that I don’t care what happens because I don’t care.

I go to a movie and I am moved by the characters and their experiences, their pain, their joy, and yet in my own life, I mute those feelings. it is like if I feel them, it will be too much for this poor tortured soul to deal with and so I withdraw.

Oh,, to meet me, you might not know this, you might see me going through the same expressions, the same actions as everyone else, but I am not like everyone else, or at least I feel like I am not like everyone else. It occurs to me, perhaps everyone does this to different extents. Do you all, hide from experiencing life? Do we all do this?

That thought makes me feel like less of an alien and more like a fellow traveler on this road to see what life can do to us.

I remember as a younger man, driving down the main street in the town I grew up in and seeing a guy on the center median, listening to music on an ancient device called a walkman, he was dancing. This guy was oblivious to everything going on around him. He danced, badly, but with joy, to the soundtrack in his ears and in his mind. For roughly 30 years, I have longed to be him. To dance because I wanted to, because I could not contain myself. To take joy, anywhere joy was. To really live this life.

For 30 years, since I saw that man, I have continued to live life peering out from my mind cave, coming part way out, but always ready to retreat back into it at the least sign that I might lose control and show people the real me.

Is this simply who I am, or is this a habit I can change? Can I learn this, can I build a new habit, of joyfully…fearfully but joyfully, experience all that life has? Can all of us learn this, can we become people who don’t hide away, but rather people who dance and sing, who laugh when someone near us looks at us askance as if to say, “you shouldn’t act like that”. After all, we only get one go around here. I don’t want to just be a person who thinks only of himself, but I do think that if allow more expression of myself, I might…just might, become a better man, husband, father, son, brother, nephew, uncle, cousin, friend, citizen, Christian.

What if, just as a trial, we all decide to give it a go, really give life a go. Help each other, hurt with each other, laugh with each other, dance with each other, care with and for each other. What would this world be like then?

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