It’s not hard to imagine.
For anything to burn, it has to have fuel. After all, it’s a chemical process and like algebra, there has to be something on the other side of the equation. Without a balanced equation, the results are skewed. For instance, if a fire needs oxygen to survive, why is it that a match can be squelched by a passing breeze? Why is it that human beings, who can survive only three days without water, can drown in six inches of it?
The answer is easy: too much of a good thing can kill you.
Don’t believe me? Figured you wouldn’t. Okay, students: class in session.
I once lived on the mistaken belief that the only emotion that I could truly express in perfect detail was anger. Anger I knew. I understood it. Elegant in its simplicity, it was one of the few pure emotions. Anger was always the result of a carefully measured equation. I could rarely think of a time that I was angry for “no real reason.” If I gave myself a few moments, I could always pinpoint what was bothering me. That process was vital as it allowed me to come to terms with whatever was pissing me off, usually cooling me down in the process as well. In addition, my anger was my shield and sword. It protected me from being hurt as sure as it allowed me to strike back. Anger, unlike most people, cleared my mind. It allowed me to look at a situation from a truly emotionless position and make a completely logical decision based on the facts that presented themselves.
God, I was delusional. It’s okay, I know it. I was young. And you, sitting in your living room snickering that you’ve seen me lose my cool in the last month, put a lid on it. I never said I was perfect. That’s the whole point of this project, remember?
Now, where was I?
Now, the one emotion that I never understood was jealousy. It defied logic. Not, let’s make sure we’re on the same page. Jealousy is different than envy. Envy, I understand. But jealousy comes from insecurity, fear and anxiety, things that are all easily assuaged by logic, reason and a deliberate thought process. I felt, a person could never be jealous of another person if they were secure with themselves and had nothing to fear. And for the most part, that’s a true statement. However, there’s something that’s important to mention: jealousy primarily displays in people who are in committed relationships of some sort and feel that there is something to lose. I never felt that way before, in any relationship that I was in. And that was also, easily explained: I was never truly in love before, apparently.
Now, this is not another post about love and relationships, but I need to get through this to come back to my point, so bear with me…
It wasn’t until I was in love, head over heels in love that I experienced jealousy. That should have been the first sing that I was in for a bumpy ride. I had opened up, expanded my emotional range and with it, came a plethora of new emotions that I can safely say I had never experienced before: jealousy, insecurity, self-loathing, and a lovely mixture of depression, doubt, and that old standby (at least for me) anger. I thought that being head over heels in love would be the best thing that ever happened to me.
As I said: too much of a good thing can kill you.
The point of this post? Glad you asked. The relationship taught me that there was something that I sacrificed when I spent my days and nights with anger as my sword and shield. The sword cuts both ways and the shield cannot protect you from anything. The truth was, that what made anger such an effective shield and sword wasn’t the anger: it was the passion. Being passionate about something, anything was my shield and my sword. It was what I surrounded myself in when I was hurt, or disappointed. The passion sparked my anger, which then chose the outlet of determination, drive, perseverance (didn’t we talk about that not too long ago?) and kept me going.
It wasn’t my anger that burned brightly in the night: it was passion. And I wasn’t able to see it until anger was truly all I had left. So, when you’re thinking about what makes you stand out, what is that fire that causes people to huddle around you in the cold for warmth and seek you out for directing in the dark, realize that it’s what drives you that can sustain that fire. Yes, just like a breeze to a candle, it can also smother that fire if left unchecked. But I ask you?
What drives you? What really drives you? Once you know that, there’s only really one thing left to do:
Burn bright. After all, for a light to be seen clearly, it must be carried into the darkest places.