I Need The Opposite Of Meditation
A few years ago, I went to an exhibition of Edvard Munch’s work at the Pompidou centre in Paris. I got to see the infamous Scream painting, not just once, but dozens of times. Munch had painted the tormented face time and time again. Like an obsession.
Munch himself suffered from mental health problems, in fact he once said: “I can not get rid of my illnesses, for there is a lot in my art that exists only because of them,” a sentiment that is incredibly sad. Imagine feeling like your only worth comes from your pain.
Looking at all those screaming faces, echoed again and again, was incredibly moving. I felt like I knew what Munch had been feeling. That scream so near the surface you feel that your body will explode but it never does, it just stays where it is. A scream which is never heard, though you desperately need it to be. I could feel him painting that same scream, over and over again, hoping that will set it free.
I know that feeling of having too many emotions, like neither your brain nor the world has room for all of them. I’m overemotional. I cry a lot, laugh a lot and feel things deeply. Swinging up, swinging down.
I’ve been advised to do meditation — which I’m sure would help, but somehow, I just can’t make a routine stick. Maybe because so often, I feel like what I actually need is something like the opposite of meditation. I don’t need to calm my mind, I need to disorder my environment. Take my brain to somewhere chaotic so that, finally, the outside can be crazier than the inside. I’m fed up of feeling out of synch with the world like there is a storm inside of me and I look around and not a twig is stirring.
Sometimes, mediation makes me feel like I’m telling myself “calm down”, in the same gas-lighting way as men when they say that to women. Trying to convince yourself it is all in your head, and that you should change your head, can just make it so much worse. Because the emotions are real to you, and they need to be addressed, not suppressed.
In those times when there is just too much in my brain and I need to see those emotions explode outwards, I really do need the opposite of meditation. And I think I may have found what that looks like.
Sometimes it looks like a place — the kind of place which fills all your senses. a nightclub. a busy street. A place that drowns your own crazy in crazier and makes you think, “yep, this feels right.”
Sometimes, it looks like creating — the kind of creation which feels like a scream. Throwing paint on a canvas.
Recently, I’ve started thinking about joining a musical theatre group. The show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is what inspired me — Rachel Blum deals with her pain by daydreaming songs about her life. I can’t sing, but that raw, over the top emotion feels like something I can get behind. Like something that I really, really need. In private, I listen to songs from musicals and feel comforted by that excessive level of emotions.
So maybe I’m still a teenage emo at heart — but really, who better than teenagers know how to deal with angst?