Monday, June 6, 2011


My mind is my worst enemy.  For years I have asserted that for me to get beyond certain obstacles or emotions, I would need to get beyond my own assumptions and fears.  Quite frankly, in the past my mind has pushed me to think and feel in ways that were so detrimental to my existence, at one point I ended up in an emergency room fearing I was experiencing a heart attack.  Blood was drawn, tests were run, my body was passed through loud, nauseating machines, and in the end, the doctor looked me in the eye, proclaimed I was in perfect health, and advised that I needed to quit stressing over life.

At one point and while I was waiting for one of my many tests to be administered, I was able to eek out a quick post to my Facebook account letting my friends and family know where I was.  In a situation such as this and especially if you're alone like I am, it's not easy to handle the emotions that run through your heart and mind.  I suppose my hope was that varying individuals would see it, sympathize, and show their support either with well wishes or prayers.  For a person like me, this type of attention is wholeheartedly appreciated and often times, needed and refreshing.

Six hours after entering the ER, I was sent home in fine condition.  I had left what I felt was a dire sign of my inevitable future only to realize my life wasn't going to be cut short but needed to be lived.  But when I sat down at my desk and loaded up Facebook to post an update and the happy outcome, I noticed I had only received one response.  Just one.  In fact, not even that much of a response as it was merely a "Like" of what I had posted.  A "Like" that I was in the ER, feeling like I was dying, and scared to my very core.

Skrik (Norwegian) or The Scream (more commonly known) by Edvard Munch (1863-1944) was painted in 1893 and depicts a warped individual agonizingly releasing his fear about the world while his two companions carry on behind him.  There are a few theories as to what was the inspiration for this piece but for me, I feel it is just an exhibition of how all of us face moments where life gets to be too much to handle and our emotions explode in response.  As noted in a journal entry in 1892, Munch stated:
I was walking along a path with two friends - the sun was setting - suddenly the sky turned blood red - I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence - there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city - my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety - and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.
Though many have deliberated over his intent, the point of art and of painting is to express something.  Frankly, I don't think Munch would have cared all that much for the distracting discussion of why he chose to create this piece.  For me, the true quality of his work can only be judged by putting it to use.

According to historians, the setting for this painting is an actual hilltop just outside Oslo, Norway that overlooks the Oslofjord.  Clearly, Munch's painting shows just how maniacal our view of the world around us can become when we allow our emotions to run unchecked.  However, and despite some dissenting opinion, to stop and take a moment to truly feel these emotions is perfectly okay.

Facing a new approach to life and reality, I have emerged with a mindset that I need to stop taking things to heart as much as I used to.  I have readjusted how I react to my professional and social situations.  More importantly, I have stopped worrying as much as I have, stopped stressing out over frivolous things, and have begun to let things slide off my shoulders because no matter how I respond emotionally, it will not change the eventual outcome.  Yet contrary to my attempts to immediately make mental and emotional adjustments that day after my visit to the ER, I was slapped in the face with a view on reality that downright hurt my feelings.  Staring at me on my Facebook page was only one ill-conceived attempt to support me while just 5 minutes after my post, a co-worker of mine had set his status to merely read, "mmmm steak."  He received 12 responses and 4 "Likes" mostly from people who were on my friends list, too.  Ouch.

Looking back, I will never forget that day--I can't forget it!--and I'm thankful it happened.  For me, it illustrates the point that while we may see things in life from our own, singular perspective, it won't always reflect actual reality.  Internal and outside influences will almost assuredly skew what is fact but it is absolutely human to feel.  Munch's character may not fully grasp why nature seems to be screaming and quite honestly, it shouldn't matter.  All he appears to know in his mind and in his heart, is something is wrong and it's worth expressing.  If only the rest of humankind would respect and appreciate their fellow man who may feel like this as much as they do for the painting that expresses it.

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