Life is not always a bowl of cherries, especially for those endowed with high sensitivity. It`s not that we don`t see the greatness of it, on the contrary, we sensitives tend to absorb life and all it entails in a most intense and acute way. I certainly see and feel the beauty of the world around me and can easily be overcome with emotion just gazing up at the stars in the sky, or watching the sun glitter, like diamonds, on the tips of snowy tree branches. I can be amazed and inspired by the absolute goodness of some people. On the other hand, I am also intensely and somewhat uncomfortably aware of the fact that life is fleeting. That these are simply moments following one another on the ever forward-moving continuum of time. Continuous, unstoppable and ever-changing. It can be fairly painful to consider how quickly a life goes by and how suddenly it can go from being one thing, to being another.
Most people of course would prefer not to dwell on such things as it tends to put a bit of a damper on life. And there is no doubt that it makes sense to experience the world in the “here and now”; to understand that life can only truly be found in the present moment. That the only way to be in touch with life is to just be.
And I would, if I could. But dwelling in the present moment requires that we let go of all thoughts of the past and future and just take in the moment as it comes, with no strings attached. That we just accept things as they are presently and go with the flow. Personally, I find this a very valid but difficult, if not impossible, feat. It`s a great concept to be sure, but being endowed with emotional and intellectual over-excitabilities, as described by Kazimierz Dabrowski in the context of his theory on Positive Disintegration, leaves me with little hope of putting the brakes on the cognitive wheels. I was born with a mind that has a mind of its own.. There is no harnessing it; it will do what it wants to do. And what it wants to do is question everything. It wants to analyse, tear apart, turn upside down, backwards and sideways, and rotate and synthesize. It wants to ponder the meaning of life. It wants answers to questions about the deepest and farthest reaches of the universe. And, most mercilessly, it wants to know the meaning of nothingness.
According to Dabrowski, living with an overly sensitive nervous response can be a very positive feature for personal growth. It can propel you forward in leaps and bounds on your journey towards the summit, but it comes with a price. For those that are not satisfied with the obvious – what is exposed on the surface – and who need to dig deep down in search of answers, life can be fairly angst-ridden. Constantly searching for answers about existence and purpose where none exist, can lead to a certain amount of despair. While we strive to find a meaningful purpose for our existence as a human race, (some of us) feel intrinsically that there is no more than meets the eye. It’s a full-fledged paradox for us. There is nothing we want more than to understand why we occupy space in the universe for a time, yet we absolutely don`t believe an answer exists.
Living life in the moment becomes an impossible challenge when you desire to understand what can never be understood.
I suppose the best we can do is to use our existential angst – take the energy derived from it – rather than let it take us, and try to resolve the day-to-day challenges that we face in life. As the existentialists would tell you, we are all essentially alone in life, each occupying a microcosm of existence, and we can only be truly responsible for ourselves. This may sound like a negative statement, but in fact, I see it as an empowering one. It means that we all have the choice to live the lives we want; we simply need the courage to accept the hefty responsibility that comes with it.