“For she had a great variety of selves to call upon, far more than we have been able to find room for, since a biography is considered complete if it merely accounts for six or seven selves, whereas a person may have many thousand…” – Virginia Woolf, Orland
I get restless easily. If I stay somewhere for too long, I travel. When I drink a cup of tea, I have to keep readjusting it so that every sip tastes just right. If I’m with someone, I break it off.
I get restless with myself. Young Sarah, Adolescent Sarah, Present Sarah–I understand these temporal identities, but my restlessness comes from Sarahs in certain states of mind. On the surface we can remember ourselves, but how do we tap in to what it truly felt then, rather than a glossed impression of that memory?
“Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity”. I was first introduced to Wordsworth's iconic quote seven years ago. I am blessed to pursue a field that is focused on awareness: sensory awareness, emotional awareness, awareness of those around me and how I might affect them. Everyone has the capacity to experience heightened awareness, but rediscovering them-be it through poetry or performance-is the hardest part.
When I don’t take time to reflect and meditate on past experiences, I lose sense of myself. I feel a void that I try to artificially fill through food, alcohol, or, most often, technology. (If you haven’t already watched Louis CK’s profound video, I highly recommend you do so. Now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HbYScltf1c)
I often hear from actors (myself included) that we are drawn towards the art form because we feel more alive within the text than we do in daily life. This mindset, romantic as it may seem, is also dangerous; we need to live raw experiences in order to bring our unique perception of the world into the work.
I get anxiety attacks. I’ve worked hard to make this Sarah go away, but after countless therapy sessions and medications, she just won’t seem to leave. I’m at a place in my life where I can now stop her before she comes on too strong. Yet sometimes I fail. I scream, I cry, I become self-destructive. I lie restless in a dizzying chaos.
Once she leaves, my vision shifts. I notice specks of dirt in the carpet and cracks on the wall. My thoughts become unclogged; a bathroom sink, too long sprayed at the surface, running smoothly after a deep cleanse. I pick myself up. I go outside and absorb the fresh air. Memories long abandoned flood in. There she is. I found her.
Hey, 16 year old Sarah skipping class on a foggy day to look at a cat,
Hi, 20 year old Sarah sitting on a park ledge in Montreal watching trains go by,
Hello, 24 year old Sarah getting athlete’s foot from wet shoes in China,
Come in, it’s been a while.
When I avoid emotions I go into pilot-mode. There’s a weight in my chest, but I’m too doped up on social media to really sort it out. I ignore the heaviness until it becomes a dull ache–one I can sense isn’t true to who I am, but manageable enough to make it to my next appointment.
No, I don’t want to condone regular bursts of frantic, erratic behaviour as the key to healthy living, but maybe negativity isn’t always bad. Maybe allowing anger, sadness, and fear to occasionally take over isn’t an immoral thing to do. Giving ourselves the chance to disconnect can help us from feeling too disconnected.