Rattle the Cage and Break the Shackle

Freedom

/ˈfriːdəm/

A courageous state of challenging the status quo and internalised perceptions that keeps one enthralled to a certain creed, mindset or way of living. A liberation from the self-imposed hurdles and personal fantasies that staunches growth and development. The emancipated position of assuming responsibility for one’s own choices, the acknowledgement of truth, and picking up the cloak of self-authorship in moulding one’s own narrative.

The air was reverberating with the gentle chimes of porcelain, steel and glass. In between those melodious waves drifted the steamy whisps and ambrosial aromas from hot baked bread and confectionery. Sunlight streamed through large paned windows that made browns seem golden and whites appear silver. And words flitted around the room in kaleidoscopic poetry without thread or meaning. It mingled with bell-like laughter, deep sighs, shifting timbres and deafening silences…

“.. Gernus could tell us a little more about that. “

Wait, what?

https://me.me/i/i-cant-lie-im-not-even-listening-fam-15791726

“Oh, not here at all” my friend commented teasingly as she touched my arm and looked knowingly at the others. I knew she was referring to my absenteeism in conversation and my idle mind. She looked at me again with a half-teasing smile. “You are quiet today… We were talking about that film you watched this weekend.” Oh, still just that? I thought we had changed that topic?

One should not be made to feel guilty for lack of attentiveness to the immediate situation. It simply means that attention is invested elsewhere. And surely that space must be more important.

I was lost in thought again. Or had been. This was not an uncommon occurrence at this point. My friends already had a partial understanding of this. Being lost in one’s inner world and all… Or rather, them losing me inside it.

Of late this was more frequent than I had myself anticipated. I think I was perpetually untethered to the flow of the mundane routine that was playing out around me. Chats and banter just did not stimulate me enough any more to keep my attention. But in admitting that I probably seemed… haughty, maybe even vain.

And yet, I could not bring myself to assume that description. Because these talks I found myself engaging in, this company, was not lacking in depth or in fascination. I was just not present, not really. So that would just make me susceptible to mind-wandering. Perhaps it even made me lost. And once I may have felt guilty due to a misguided construal of why I was feeling that way, but not any longer. One should not be made to feel guilty for lack of attentiveness to the immediate situation. It simply means that attention is invested elsewhere. And surely that space must be more important.

Though, regarding the place my mind did take me when out with friends, being mindful of the ambience of the restaurant certainly did not seem to be the crucial task at hand here. And yet, in that moment I felt it to be the most important task to set myself in escaping the thoughts that were actually lamenting for my attention. And these thoughts were trapping me. In fact, that scene of daydreaming was but one of many variations of me trying to lose myself in streams of thinking that coursed away from harder reality.

I was in a bit of an impasse. Much of my life had felt fabricated (yes, I use this word very deliberately) according to a very specific formula that I believed was truly working for me… and I felt my pedigree attested to that. The cornerstones of my personality were patience, commitment and self-control. And I firmly believed that consistent effort directed toward the attainment of a goal was key to success – in my career, my relationships and my mental health. I may have been a bit of a prude…

https://en.dopl3r.com/memes/dank/when-you-see-photos-of-yourself-from-5-years-ago-oh-honey-no-what-were-you-thinkin/35379

I think, back then, I believed a lot in that which kept me in line with a very “blue-eyed, golden boy” label that was attached to me. And what I have learned is that labelling serves as one of the many jailors to one’s perceptions. But there was something else. There was an influence that seemed more intrinsic in nature and firmly seated at my core. Its dark and numbing tendrils often reached out to play havoc on my amygdala. And though it was susceptible to outside influence – where it was either being reinforced or alleviated due to the flow of my surroundings – I knew that it was rooted within me primarily. Fear.

https://sayingimages.com/oh-really-meme/

Thomas Hobbes had an interesting thought on the whole concept of fear when reasoned about in society. To him, fear was a kind of binding element in people. Because of the sordid reality and complicity prevalent among human predispositions, we aim to escape this by revoking the crippling power that it holds to a civil society to maintain the order. So, the fear is localised in an institution, such as the state. And so holds a social contract tradition

https://blog.ezoic.com/title-tags-work-best-new-posts/willy-wonka-oh-please-tell-me-more-about-the-content-no-one-is-reading/

But let us rework his theory. We agree that human nature has great potential to cruelty, brutishness and loneliness, and that does invoke distress. But such behaviour is bound to manifest in us as well of we are not careful. So, we surrender to more careful perceptions; we foreclose ourselves against the unknown by regressing to what is well within our scope of knowledge; and we nest all too leisurely within our very own comfort zones. We surrender that power of fear to something we believe we cannot change – perceptions. And thus, we withold ourselves from truth.

Now this is significant to understand. This page has talked extensively on the topics of truth and its link towards taking greater stock of personal potential and worth. And it has done so in the premise of knowing what your position of strength is an honest appraisal of your personality and disposition. And standing firm in those confessions when in interaction with others.

But the truth was: I was lying to myself as to what was truly making me happy. And to add to that truth, I could discard humility for but a moment to admit that I think I was too smart to lie to myself as to what was truly making me happy. Was I really going to add self-deception as a core skill to my resume?

We surrender that power of fear to something we believe we cannot change – perceptions.

Here was my thing: fear. It was a cage. But it was also a familiar space. Somehow, it was a space that I knew as well as my own inner thoughts. In that familiarity, it felt safe. It felt safe, because it felt known. It was a space well explored, with boundaries drawn out. Hypothetically, it was most possibly the lesser of two evils: remaining within a limited space as opposed to venturing into the unknown.

In fact Luvvi Ajayi captured perfectly what I had intended to say for the longest amount of time. Where we need to get comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable and to say the things that need to be said. Doing the very “anti-me” thing by going against the grain. In this case, I was allowing a false truth to protude through the sense of a more direct honesty that I knew was what I needed to hear. And what I needed to do was say the things to myself that I knew would be hard to hear.

She also talked about realising that you may be the most powerful person walking into a room to admit to certain perceptions, and that the realisation thereof may be important to effect change. But we don’t admit that, do we? And by doing that, I was denying what was possibly a primal kind of power that could pull mountains from flat stretches of land. What I was denying (among so many other traits) was my imagination. And more importantly, the extent thereof. And I realised this when I started writing. But we are reluctant in admitting to our own core potentials, and thus converge on mediodcrity as a default.

In fact, people and systems count on our silence to keep us exactly where we are. Then we keep ourselves there as well. Because of fear of what a broken system might afford. Its the whole conundrum of uncertainty, and that is just too much stimulation. And a wallflower facing this predicament has a particularly acute difficulty in dealing with this plight. High-reactive temperaments and sensitivity heighten our receptiveness of the consequences of unfamiliarity, and so we feel highly insecure by venturing into the world. But then… I cannot claim the role of narration for the lives of my fellow bloomers. I just knew that my own petals were closed in a tight bud against the uncomfortable realities of breaking the mould of all I knew. But something was prying it open with force.

Suddenly that cage I was in did not feel safe any more. In fact, it began to feel more like the barrier that it was in reality. And I needed desperately to break free. These old mantras were no longer effective. These old perceptions did not seem as wise. And this fear was beginning to feel more like frustration.

You could say I was in a bit of an existential crisis. And it seemed pretty holistic in its scope. In terms of my career, I had relentlessly invested hard work and effort to try and reach a goal that no longer seemed to be the dream. Socially, I was beginning to question the tangent points of interests between me and many of those I called my friends. What is more, my romantic views were becoming ever less tolerant of the excessive hubris that reigned among potential suitors. Cognitively I was filtering through views that seemed to cause me more dissonance than inspiring any sense of commitment. And spiritually I was yearning for something fulfilling, but that was unbound by the doctrines (no matter how open-minded they seemed) of the belief systems that abounded in society.

A hot mess, right? The inputs of others were not exactly relieving me of much of the confusion I was feeling either. Attemts to share these ruminations often resulted in very matter-of-fact replies. What was hurtful was that these replies sometimes came from those I invested trust in to remind me of the very truth that I knew I needed exposure to, but was blindsided from due to their careful perceptions maintained in order to solidify a sense of security. “I am glad you are finally taking this route. You need to do what makes you happy.”

https://me.me/market?s=pop

What was more, these views seemed often shared in a presumptuous manner, as if these truths were insights I should have become aware of long ago. “I knew you would find your way. I always knew that you would eventually take this route once you experienced a few things. But I did not want to impose. But it is amazing how you came to discover this all on your own.” My oh my, thanks for caring… No… Really…

https://m.imgur.com/gallery/igxfxWW

You are there because your truth is valued.

If you have been reading these blogs for awhile, then you know that these reflections hardly ever come without an attempt to extract a lesson to share with my fellow bloomers. And even though a few have made themselves evident, let me at least highlight something from the last mentioned points. Though respecting the freedom and independence of your friends is a show of great respect, withholding perceptions or sharing half-truths with them are not. You are not being helpful when you feel the need to pose a warning, but decide against it for fear of imposing. You are not being wise by withholding a sense of meaningful guidance by thinking that it is best discovered by an individual themselves. You are not empowering anyone when you have a valuable investment to scaffold an effort, but leave someone to their own devices. You are not being a good friend, partner, lover or any significamt support in another person’s life by digressing even a slight bit from your unique view of their situation. You are not taken into confidence (as someone meaningful in another’s life) to share a view that they would have likely convinced themselves of. You are there because you challenge it. You are there because that challenge initiates growth. You are there because your truth is valued. And that truth needs to be told. The fact remains that advice is something we feel inclined to give regardless if it is actually wanted. We should not attempt its denial or suppression. We could simply adapt a mindfulness as to how we convey it to those we care for. Besides, just because it may be good in perspective does not mean that anyone needs to stand in agreement thereto.

Always listen to the advice offered by another. You may not choose to follow it, but just pay heed to the degree of value it may hold in your life.

If you have a wallflower to tend to in your life, then you can be assured that they are fully present to whatever energy you are presenting to them at a given moment. If your role is then shaped toward the assumption of a guiding influence, then feel free to allow this expression – whether it be out of concern, or care or even a confidence in what you believe. If your inkling is to give advice, then you were likely pressed to provide it because of some perceived cue. But you may be met with reluctance from those who stand in reception of your views.

I have been a prime example of someone who despised the (what I regarded as) arrogance of another to prescribe my actions. I was quick to regard any advice as a direct display of another’s entitlement to my own life choices. And though such individuals certainly exist to test one’s patience, perhaps I was unfair to many a friend who only sought to offer help. From this I offer you another lesson. Always listen to the advice offered by another. You may not choose to follow it, but just pay heed to the degree of value it may hold in your life.

Once more, I knew where this frustration in accapeting guidance came from. It felt like another trap set to snare me. It felt too much akin to the other boundaries of mind that was in place in my life… It seemed too much like the cages I was already rattling to escape from. While, in truth, these may have been keys dangled in front of me to unlock my mind to different possibilities.

Wow, what a process to reach a meaninful insight to life…

Barack Obama Fun GIF by Obama - Find & Share on GIPHY

Just like advice, opportunity had the same penchant of presenting something desirable that we need not pursue. We could consider it, but we need not accept it. And a display of such freedom seemed brazen in a society that valued a grateful stance toward opportunity. Or rather, that valued the opportunity to grow and develop. And though such pursuits are noble, whether in one’s career, social life or even spiritually, grasping opportunity that goes against the flow of your own intuitive direction is not a display of open-mindedness. It is a surrender to normative behaviour. And allowing oneself to be guided by intuition is not a surrender to fear, but instead an honest appraisal of one’s wants and desires. A greater move to a sense of joy.

The sollution is simple. If something is not making you happy, then you should not be interested in expending your attention, energy or time therein. And sometimes a sacrifice is not just a means to some more divine ambition. There are times when a sacrifice of one’s energy to more dilligent effort; one’s time spent on a virtuous amount of patience; or one’s attention directed to the apparent sagacity of others, are no longer a means to a greater end. Sometimes, that kind of sacrifice is simply just a loss. And the question that is posed to us (to you or me) is this: how much more are we willing to give up before we decide to break the shackle?

Love and light fellow bloomers. And have courage to rattle the cage!

The Art of Sensitivity as Told at 27 – The Birthday Blog

Sensitivity

/sɛnsɪˈtɪvɪti/

A quality of an increased receptiveness to one’s surroundings, heightening the intensity of sensory experience and moment-to-moment thought repertoires. It prescribes a finer finesse to the mindful reflection extended on the moulding of perceptions, and thus an increased vulnerability to the nuances that abound in abstract encounters.

The room felt alive with the sounds of the night. Beyond the sliding door the concerto of cricketsong melodiously intertwined with the rustle of trees that busied themselves in adjusting their crowns. The timbre of midnight musings gently caressed the ears, alongside the touch of the evening breeze that was chill to the touch. The moon cast its light from somewhere in the sky, diffusing softly between the bedroom drapes that was the only veil against the night. And steadily that pearly hue rolled over crisp white sheets, and refracted against his marble figure as he lay there silently on his back, with muscles rippling beneath skin that had been kissed by the sun on many a rising of day. But tonight he was bathed in silver, a sheen that hugged the curvature of pure physical power embodied in his form. And in that silence that seemed deafening in its serenity, was the deep and vibrant breathing that made the air around us shudder with the rise and fall of his chest.

I was in the nook of his embrace, with head resting where his shoulder met his arm, and I remember a distinct comfort in the warmth that radiated from his fingertips, from his caress, and from the gentleness of his hold that was betrayed only by his massive frame with clearly hidden Herculean strength. This magic seemed so completely untethered to reality in that private moment. And yet… nothing was private, with the night so intertwined in its enshrouding presence.

I remembered the safety I felt in that moment frozen in memory; that crystallised sense of security that was tangible on every physical level, but also a cushion to the feelings that were constantly roiling beneath the surface and demanding of my cognisance. Somehow he stilled that tempest, and he brought me to the eye of the storm. And yet, he was a mere visitor to my narrative. Forever a guest to my future reminiscence, and only someone who was passing through my life story. I knew it then, laying there next to him. I knew it even before I met him for a casual drink that night. But then, I had met few people I could trust with such reckless abandon of my reservations. I had met few men who wielded so much raw force to their spirit, yet were masters in taming that energy. I think, that night, I had met a sage. And god knows they were scarce out there.

As his fingers played through the strands of my hair, his deep whisper broke the silence that had settled momentarily between so many other drifting philosophies that had occupied our minds through that balmy night lost in the memories of late summer. “You are a very gentle soul. You have this tender spirit.” He looked at me slowly then, his grip tightening ever so softly. “There are two types of people you’ll meet: those who would cherish it, and seek to protect you, and those who would seek to misuse you for those qualities. You need to be very careful.”

It was a scene that joined many of my other vibrant recollections. There seemed to be so many; and I could not fathom how to be honest. ‘Life’ surely had an abundance of experiences awaiting me in its treasury. I was, after all, still in my 20’s: young, starry-eyed, naive, distracted, lost, intense… wise did not seem to be in the line-up of those descriptions very soon. And yet, I felt the slightest brush of the quality in my narrative. I felt it in single moments that stood out in their scintillating flashes of people, places and picturesque gestalt. I felt that my memory was filled to the brim with moments of reminiscence, and from each was taken something of considerable value.

I felt heavy with those memories. I still do. I so wished to quiet those ruminations and remain quiescent in thought. Yet somehow my mind was constantly floating high amidst so many amorphous musings, and the Florence Welsh lyric from a Sky Full Of Song seemed to bounce of the inner walls of my skull to capture my mood, “Hold me down, I’m so tired now.” At the age of 27, is it possible for your spirit to feel weary?

It appeared to be one of the signs of being an old soul. And perhaps in understanding the transient nature of one’s reality, and the limits that it imposes, perhaps I was deliberately collecting these moments in time. Perhaps, I was deliberately paying attention to how the milieu of these moments were pieced together in pastel imagery, olfactory nostalgia… in tactile desires, and in phonic harmonies. Perhaps I was desperate to make permanent the memory of the ambience, for a desire to recreate such character and impression to satisfy the longings for such memories that would arise once it was played out. Once it too, had passed. Perhaps there was something to this disposition of mine… that of sensitivity.

In his psychological expertise, Jerome Kagan would have undoubtedly placed me in the category of high-reactives when it came to temperament. This greater mark of sensitivity to the cues around me proved to be more than enough stimulation to push me into persistent bouts of withdrawal. Typical of my introverted nature, I needed to collect all environmental input and process it. I needed time to mull through its many meanings. But managing sensory information was something altogether different from the management of emotion. And when you are sensitive, you run the risk of great personal harm when those emotional projections come from people that have a particular flavour to their intensity.

In that line of reasoning, I knew that my gentle nature was perhaps a residual manifestation of my sensitive orientation to the world – that world so filled with bright colours, assailant sounds, perpetual movement and powerful feelings. I really did need to be careful…

But then, I was convinced that there was a mastery to be attained of this sensitivity. Yes, it presented a dichotomy. On the one hand, it intensified perceptual experiences to the degree that simple passing instances of one’s day was painted with such vivid character that one was really made to feel alive. So what others would regard as a mere lovely autumn day for example, would for me become a masterpiece by nature’s hand. I would be intensely aware of the soft textiles that hugged warmly against my frame: a metaphorical fortress to the discomforts of seen and unseen chills of both heart and mind. Why did a simple scarf feel like a defense against the greatest of tragedies? How did these soft fabrics provide so much comfort on contact? The sun would shyly wink between cotton clouds and illuminate earthy treetops in a thousand goldens shades that seemed to lend its warmth to the day. The very boles of the trees would sigh in tired anticipation of their winter’s rest, while the wind carried the crisp lullabies of forgotten seasons to sway the earth to hibernation. And I would wonder, how it was that I could hear the light refracting through molecules in chiming melodies; how I could feel the texture of the shifting season by its earthy colour… I was enveloped by this synaesthesia and by the composition of the day, and I was lost within it. Yet, audience to it as well. This was how I saw the world…

It was as if Demeter herself was steadily becoming aware of the impending sorrow of bidding her daughter farewell for another half-year (the Greeks really had a beautiful way of explaining the changes in season). Autumn became devine, the day become a meaninful reflection of that divinity, and I was relishing the million idiosyncrasies that presented itself in a million different variations. This was truly what was meant by the savouring of experience.

And then there were people… God. Now here we had an altogether different conundrum. Vibrant beacons flitting through the already occupied spaces of sensations around you. Each a light or shadow sewn together from so many misunderstood feelings and perceptible falsehoods. Each a construction of architectural beauty with visible loose strands of chaos. Did anyone really understand the ‘lonely’ child? Was he not preceived as the most sociable denizen on the playground by keeping to his own devices in conjuring fantasies overflowing with imaginary company? Was anyone truly looking at the old woman sitting at the corner coffee shop as she was gracefully swaying her eyes across the social sea that churned around her? Could no-one comprehend the acts of this wizened goddess in her exercise of reminiscent recollections because she was wealthy through the bank of her own memories? Or was anyone catching whiff of the pervading desperation that clung like an odour to the social wolves within the night club – those prowlers who wore their confidence as a pelt to ward of the chill of the slightest posssibility of rejection? Was anyone, ANYONE, really seeing any of this. And what of I? What did my embodied self communicate? Was my off-to-side positioning truly seen as shy? For I knew this as a strategic position from which to observe with even more vigilance, and assimilate greater meaning to my experience through other encounters playing out around me. Was my arm-crossed demeanour a gesture of defensiveness? For I felt a comfort in metaphorically hugging my concentration closer to my very being, to keep myself attentive and fortify myself from distraction. Was my stalwart expression and stern cast to my face really seen as discontentment or even anger? For I was merely immersed in a crystal focus on the ecperience at hand. Why was I seeing a sensitive thinker, when some saw a lost antisocial? Was our world really structured to this kind of ignorance to intensity? Perhaps they were protecting themselves.

For yes, on one hand of sensitivity lay experiential immersion. But on the other lay a susceptibility to the dangers held in the self-preserving pursuits of others. In such cases, that keener awareness and heightened reaction to experience proves burdening. For in their hardened state, people have become reacquainted with inherent cruelty. And I was a deer gently grazing in the headlights of many social predators. I knew this, because I felt unsafe nearly half of the time I would reveal myself to the world honestly. I knew this from how hard I took criticism to those qualities I regarded as strengths. I knew this from the false interest people took to my thoughts, only to talk over my vocalisations of them. I knew this from the genuine interest I had in sharing my version of the beauties I perceived, only for others to take no real heed. I knew this from the backlash people offered when they did not have a constant stock or grip of my mind. I knew this from my interactions with family, from friends, from lovers who moved on, from passers-by. But their mistook grip on my gentleness was not a fault of theirs. It was not an everlasting point to highlight as guilt-inducing criticism against a lack of their virtue. Not at all. It was a mismatch of energies; and in understanding such energies, I was merely being directed unknowingly to be in greater acceptance and understanding of my own.

At 27, I have come to learn that sensitivity is an art. And like any art, it takes practice. Boy, does it take years to just even realise that it needs practice: to expertly lay down the strokes of one’s complicated views on the world; to create with subtlety, to weave with nuance, to understand such executions to even begin with! And then, to survive it in its most primal unabashed form when enshrined in people, or abused by them.

In fact, for years this very quality was frowned upon in the face of the very hypermasculine communities I had the ‘privilege’ of growing up in. Gentleness was an affront to robustness; emotional intelligence was seen as an overcomplication in “trying too hard” ; and sensitivity was seen as a reactive response rooted in insecurity. It was seen as weak. But what I saw was a quality that, with its risks, still posed an immense asset to the enrichment of experience. It was a trait that kept me in connection with my emotions. It was a quality that I could not begin to imagine in its subdued form, much less its absence.

At 27 what I learned, or rather… what I realised, was this: that a resonance to the tone of the world is a sound that most would mute for the sake of a faith in their secure sense of sanity; that the truth of perception is a sharp arrowhead that is feared for its accuracy, and the value in the shot would most likely be evaded. That complexity would be bartered off for the first offer of simplicity, merely because of an ignorance in how intricacy is used. And that sensitivity is a craft that humanity is beginning to lose, because of a culture of disconnect and defensiveness that stifles the creativity of savouring experience.

Sensitivity is not frailty. It is an oculus that looks past the fickleness and denial of emotion; that reshapes the aesthetic of one’s surroundings; and that teaches a navigation of the world through emotional agility and poetic brilliance.

At 27, sensitivity has become an architect of my pedigree.

Love and light fellow bloomers.