Monday, July 28, 2014

On Writing: Just One of Those Moments You Can't Put Into Words

This post has nothing to do with Asperger's Syndrome. It's just a little thing about writing.

Ever have a moment in your life that is too abstract to translate into words? There is a moment from January or February of 2013 that keeps coming back to me, one of those moments that I just remember so clearly. Not just the moment, but the sensory aspects of it. What I was feeling, mentally and physically. But even describing that does not do justice to the abstract interpretation that was going on in my head. 

Background: I was in the process of losing weight, with the goal of reclaiming the long-lost thin, healthy body I had growing up, particularly the athletic, muscular, robust body that I had in high school when I was running track. I had battled a weight problem for eleven years, and in the fall of 2012 I hit upon a solution that worked for me. The biggest change that precipitated the weight loss was not figuring out the process itself, but rather getting in the right state of mind to fully implement that process. It was as if I suddenly flipped a switch in my head and was pursuing this goal with a single-minded focus. Don't ask me how it works; if I could bottle it and sell it I'd be rich (forgive the abuse of an old cliché here). 

What was the moment itself? It happened three or four months into my weight loss journey. I was exiting the Dodge YMCA in Brooklyn, still in the throes of an intense high that I had induced from yet another extreme workout, and feeling refreshed from the shower and sauna that followed. I was acutely aware of every sense that was activated. I have no idea if this was physiological, a side effect of the endorphins that I generated from exercise, or if it was entirely psychological.  I felt a little sore from the workout, a dull aching in my arm and leg muscles, but that was good because it meant I was making progress, slowly turning fat into muscle and strengthening my heart. I was warm from the shower and sauna, and the blast of cold air contrasted it in an interesting way. I hate the cold but for some reason I enjoyed the feeling of it on my face that day and welcomed the crisp smell. I was wearing a winter coat that I had bought when I was thirty pounds heavier, but at that moment I suddenly noticed how huge it was on me, hanging off of my now lean frame. I had a big, involuntary grin on my face. And on top of all this, I was plugged into my iPod, listening to the indie rock song "Hands of Hate" by transgender musician Ryan Cassata. Despite the title, the chorus sounds hopeful, not just in lyrics but in tune. It was when I was listening to the song's chorus that all the other senses I previously described where hitting me full force. It seems that the song was the factor that sealed the moment, if that makes sense.

I was extremely aware of these thoughts and sensations in the period of a few seconds, and yet they just took me several sentences to explain. I just told you what was going through my head and what I was feeling, but I am lost at how to show it to you. You would just have to get in my head, I suppose. But maybe I'll figure out a way to do it. That's one of the challenges of writing. And it's also a testament to how everyone has his or her own subjective experience and often cannot get anybody else to understand it in quite the same way. 

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