Thursday, May 23, 2013

Moment (why anxiety attacks make people think my life is more interesting than theirs)

moment - noun

1. an indefinitely short period of time; instant
2. the present time or any other particular time
3. a definite period or stage, as in a course of events; juncture
4. importance or consequence
5. a particular time or period of success, excellence, fame, etc,                                    

Let's get one thing straight right from the start: Yes, I consider my own life interesting. I know I'm not supposed to. I know I'm supposed to complain that nothing interesting ever happens to me, or  say that I dream of more action in my life, but I don't. In fact, it would be rather silly of me to do so, considering I can barely keep up with all the interesting and magical things that happen in my life already.

I suppose this sounds wonderfully pompous, and maybe it is. However, I think living an 'interesting life' has much more to do with the ability to make every moment count, remember it and retell it as important, than what the content of the moments actually are. It is important to let things be important. There are, however, two things that have made me better at experiencing interesting moments than most people are:

1. Anxiety attacks. 

Short version: I've had anxiety attacks since I was 11. They were originally linked to loneliness and bullying and such, but that is not important. The first really huge one, the first one that made me unable to function at all for a while, happened when I was 13 while watching a catastrophe film about meteors.

Until that point in time I loved stars. I could place most constellations and spent a lot of time making  space related art and drawings. We were having a project about space at school (hence the meteor film), and I had been super excited about it - until full blown and super heavy waves of panic.

Skip five years ahead.

I was 18, had dropped out of school and impulsively moved across the country. I had moved to the loneliest place in Norway, and I was in general feeling a little lost. Something really bad happened, something that shook me out of the appartment. I ran out, down to the sea, and fell on my knees in the deep snow.

I looked up - and instantly couldn't breathe. Suddenly, and very overwhelmingly I realized I hadn't looked up for five years. For five years I had never seen a star. I had actively avoided them, so as not to trigger a panic attack.

I stood up, took a deep breath and decided, right there and then, that I would never let the things I'm afraid of stop me from living  again. This sounds like a very good plan, but it makes you do a lot of stupid stuff (turns out - some of the stuff you're afraid of is actually dangerous). But in a slightly modified version it makes you say yes to things you're scared to try, say yes to activities, sports and job opportunities you'd otherwise be too frightened to accept.

This is how I ended up saying yes to diving, snorkelling in Silfra, slack-line walking, archery, conversations with all the people I've met when travelling, all the journeys I've done alone, every crush, every romance, getting married, buying an apartment, presenting my art, singing on stage and reading my poetry. Because I can not not do it just because I'm scared.

One time I kind of wish I hadn't done something I was scared of.
Also called: the time I nearly drowned in 2 °C water

2. Focus

I actively choose to experience and remember all my moments as events. I'm horrible at small talk, so I talk about things I find important. I ask important questions, and I try to meet every person 100%.

Where my friends remember meeting 'this guy' at 'that place' and he said 'something funny,' I remember meeting the lovely George in Camden Locks, and I remember how he told us about his day, and the way he coughed when he laughed, and the hug he gave me when we left. I still have that little flower he picked from the cobblestones, and I remember him as important. Even if he was just this guy we met at that place... the one who was funny.

I focus.

I'm looking for moments that matter. I'm looking for people to share a moment with. I trust in the connections I feel, and I trust in myself to be real. Being real with strangers is super scary, but that can't really stop me (see point 1.)

So, do I live a more interesting life than anyone else? No. I'm just a better storyteller.
Have I done 'everything' and met 'everyone' and been 'everywhere'? Not by a long shot. I just don't say no, or think things through very well. Not very well at all. I say yes, I jump in, I laugh loudly and hug warmly. I try to not let worries about how I look, act or am perceived slow down the way I interact with people. I try to just be.

I think they call it living in the moment.

Nice day, nice moment

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