The Future: Beethoven and Unpretentious Realness

“I am working out something big for my future.”

As long as I have lived I have had this feeling of growth and expansiveness and that I’m becoming what I was meant to be.

Perhaps it’s hypomania – but on my medicine I can trust that I’m safe from it unraveling into mania and it is enjoyable. And therefore I can embrace unpretentious realness that comes from a joy and sense of purpose even as I fail by normal standards.

As I write I listen to Phillip Glass, and he propels me further along the writing trail with his hypnotic and repetitive lyricism. Aching violins now frantic, now swaying. Piano. The Hours. Film Score. Never seen the film, but given the music I’d probably like it. A lot.

But I digress, because my favorite composer is actually not Phillip Glass, but rather Beethoven. Beethoven. What do I love about him? Everything about him is inspiring and heartbreaking – and yet uplifting because he articulated everything so perfectly in art.

The way he lived, the way he wrote, the fact that he never gave up even with a disability that directly impacted his art. Amazing.

I think I am like that in my own small way and that many with mental illness who find the right treatment are – we never give up even with a disability that directly impacts the art of living. If you haven’t found the right treatment don’t give up.

No, I am not actually deaf, as Beethoven was a profound compositional genius who was progressively more deaf as he aged.

And, no, I’m not a genius.

But perhaps I am more than a little tone deaf to how I come across.

I wrote a recent blog post for a different blog I run (seahurstlearns.com) on antiracism and health and wellness in education that gave an example of how my passion for social justice was something that was influenced by my disability.

My art is getting people to think and to love deeply. To be what I call integrous. Which is integrity that is so integrated that it has become integrous and is a profound manifestation of being. A reified noun.

I am figuring out how to be integrous in my relationships and this has meant that I have had to cut ties with some people. Or not to reach out when they have cut ties with me.

Right now my relationships are like billiards and I am like the cue ball scattering people and yet with a gravitational pull that keeps bringing the ones who need me right now back to me. I’m not good at pool, so I’m not pretending to be a mastermind. There is no logic to my striving – just prayer and following an indelible call to write.

God holds the cue – or is it illness? We will never know in the case of life and inspiration.

What is being given the intangible reality of mental illness? What is being with a person with mental illness?

I think it can be being with and also being with, while separate.

If you know someone with a mental illness who is draining you, don’t be afraid to rearrange the boundaries or to take a break. Mental illness is different than physical illness and we can be taxing.

What about bonding rather than rupturing? I ask myself.

Well, bonds can be stronger and more integrous after a rupture.

While my last blog post in this blog, erinmichaelgrimm.com, described how I have become more relational since reading about polyvagal therapy, I have since discovered that there is more to the story: I have realized I cannot read myself into normalcy though I can become kinder by reading to understand “normal” people. Being normal doesn’t feel real to me and the prospect of living a normal life makes me feel trapped.

I am called to unpretentious realness. I think mental illnesses that are not depression can still cause depression. This comes from when we try to be normal when, frankly, we aren’t. We weren’t built that way.

And that’s okay.