Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Living Artfully with Intensity

After stumbling upon the realization that I might in fact be smart and not mentally ill, I feel pretty stupid that it took me so long to figure it out.  But I don't really care.  That's the good thing about being a late-bloomer.  It might have taken me longer than most to recognize this gift within me, but I'm lucky to have become open to it at a time in my life when I feel the most willing to take risks and work hard to make my life amazing.  Hitting my own midlife as my brother died of liver failure made this person who had spent her life ignoring and dulling and numbing and avoiding start to pay attention.  To mortality.  I grew tired of thinking about life and ready to live it.  But how?

Maybe thinking is my way of living?  Maybe living between the paradoxical states of thought and action is where I find the artful life?

I've been doing some research on so-called gifted adults.  Gifted is a weird word.  And smart is too vague.  I mean, if I'm so smart then why hadn't I figured out before that my brain is odd, but it's also unique.  My thoughts are ambiguous, but they're also deep.  My depressions overwhelming, but also meditative.  My energy can be manic, but also productive.  Difference does not always imply damage.

So I checked out this book, Living with Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability, and Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents, and Adults, edited by Susan Daniels and Michael M. Piechowski.

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It's kind of freaking me out how much I can relate to it.  I jumped ahead to Chapter 10: Advantages and Challenges of Lifespan Intensity.  There, on page 177, I found these wise words I'd like to share with you:

Just as gifted children and youth do no "outgrow" their intensity, neither do adults, even into the latter years of their lives.  "Rather than labeling intensity as excessive, expanded sensitivities might better be defined as a major component of artful living" (Jacobsen, 1999, p. 157).

It's so nice to know my weirdness might be used for good in this world.  I've spent far too much of my time worrying about the day they'd come to lock me up in a padded cell.  It's reassuring to know my eccentricities might sometimes get me down, but they also help me lead an artful life.