August 26, 2003
I think I have this – and I think it’s all because of Cirque du Soleil.
I saw this show Saturday and I have never felt as happy as I was when I walked out of the big top. In my life…in my entire life…ever!
Every component of the show was outstanding:
and the performers were perfection - they were these incredible athletes/performers/actors/jugglers/singers.....
I was amazed by the level of physical and artistic accomplishment that I saw that night. Everything was sublime and I still cannot understand everything I saw that evening. And then I went to the after party for the cast and the opening night crowd at City Museum, which was, perhaps the best party that I’ve ever been to, and then on for hours of dancing to extraordinary house music.
I felt like I was on fire by night’s end.
But the next day…and the day later…and then by today…. I just felt…..empty.
In 1817, a young Frenchman named Marie-Henri Beyle — better known to us as the French novelist Stendhal — visited Florence and soon found himself overwhelmed by the city's intensely rich legacy of art and history. When he visited Santa Croce (the cathedral where the likes of Machiavelli, Michelangelo, and Galileo are buried) and saw Giotto's famous ceiling frescoes for the first time, he was overcome with emotion:
"I was in a sort of ecstasy, from the idea of being in Florence, close to the great men whose tombs I had seen. Absorbed in the contemplation of sublime beauty ... I reached the point where one encounters celestial sensations ... Everything spoke so vividly to my soul. Ah, if I could only forget. I had palpitations of the heart, what in Berlin they call 'nerves.' Life was drained from me. I walked with the fear of falling.''
160 years later, in the late 1970s, Dr. Graziella Magherini, at the time the chief of psychiatry at Florence's Santa Maria Nuova Hospital, noticed that many of the tourists who visited Florence were overcome with anything from temporary panic attacks to bouts of outright madness that lasted several days. She remembered that Stendhal had had similar symptoms, so she named the condition Stendhal's syndrome. (When she first applied this name isn't clear, but it may have been as early as 1979.)
So…here I am, three days later, sitting at my laptop…. still in total amazement about my night at Cirque du Soleil. Now I know that one night at the Circus is nothing like a week in Florence (would I be in a coma if I went to Europe?), but it was still extraordinarily profound and I left feeling unaccomplished and distracted.
Distracted by a nice, cute fella who is far, far away....distracted by life, by art, by money, by porn, by television, by politics, by NPR, by Friendster, by friends, by enemies, by family.....distracted by hot summer nights, by loneliness, by company, by business, by e-mail, by music, by eating, by dieting, by coffee, by smoking, by soda, by drinking, by not drinking, by working out, by not working out, by sleeping, by not sleeping…….by this blog, even.
It’s the opposite of hopeless – because all of the things I mentioned as distractions are things that fundamentally make me happy or are things that I enjoy, or are things that I’ve given up or know that I need to give up…..
I don’t feel that I’m very good at doing any of these things --accomplished or skilled in doing any of those things, or strong enough to forgo the things that make me unhappy or are unhealthy.
I just wonder if I need to let something go – do I throw away my television, leave my laptop at work, quit going to Taco Bell?
Is my plan that when I leave my laptop at work....that I go to bed early every night, so that I can wake up an hour earlier every day and walk/workout and, in the meantime, avoid carbs and do crunches? Will doing this increase my confidence and make me feel okay, again?
Do I call my mom more than once a week, do I call my friends at least once a week, do I forgo blogging and go to a real therapist?
Do I find that creative outlet that will help me achieve a sense of artistic accomplishment? Even if I do decide what the creative outlet is, will it be meaningful or relevant, or matter?
AAARRGGHHH!!! It’s just too much.
I’m going to clean the kitchen cabinets. I think I can do that with some level of skill….
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