I accidentally posted the unfinished version of this post but since I deleted that, here's the (more) finished product...
All my life, I have been an observer. It is my nature to sit on the sidelines and watch the lives and actions of the people around me. My watching used to be a substitute for living my own life, but as I am now living my life (and pretty fully, I think) I have found that I still watch those around me. These people are my teachers…my friends and family, my neighbours and peers, mentors and heroes. Some I know intimately, some are complete strangers to me.
Last night we opened a show. Weeks of rehearsal finally came to a conclusion and afterwards everyone, cast, crew and audience, gathered outside to celebrate. I found myself, like usual, on the edges watching the main group happily chatting and interacting with each other. I am quite happy to be on the edge watching – it’s less overwhelming for me – but sometimes I wonder if I’m missing out on something. Every party, every social gathering, I skirt the main event and watch the other people. I watch the event instead of being a part of the event.
I’ve tried to be in the centre. I just can’t manage it. The mere thought fills me with a panic, a sense of being overwhelmed and overpowered, of losing my self, and what if I never find me again? It’s taking me long enough as it is. It sounds unreasonable, but being that surrounded by noise and breath and other heartbeats scares me.
I know I’m not alone. At one party several years ago, I met another person on the sidelines who nodded in understanding when I confided my fear of the centre. A whirlwind trip in and then back to the calm – that was how he navigated the chaos too.
I’m not afraid of the people, I try to explain. I just don’t understand the appeal of surrounding myself with them. I don’t want to. It’s uncomfortable to me. I sometimes wonder what it’s like to be at home in the middle of the craziness. I see friends laughing, alive in the element that spells death to me, and I wonder what it would be like to be there and not drowning in the noise.
But I don’t wonder enough to fight my nature and be one of the observed.
In the worlds of both science and mystery they say that the mere act of observing has a tangible effect on the observed. Watching something or someone, even if they don’t know it, has measurable consequences.
So I’ll play my part and watch.
And who knows? Maybe someday I’ll see the results of my observation.