Tip tap tick tack clack clack clack… I like the sound you make when I type, but not when others do. Other people’s typing noise annoys me. It tells me that they’re typing away and saying everything while I sit here with a knot in my stomach and a load on my chest. When things crowd up inside it becomes too chaotic to put in words. And the more they pile up the more you feel you’re about to explode.
That’s when music steps in.
I resort back to my traditional treatment. I do it a la 90s Arwa. I turn on the music loud and clear, put on my workout gear, and dance to the beat. I throw myself up in the air and I roll on the floor and I close my eyes and I see nothing. My body takes over and it takes me to places inside my head. One move creates the next and I don’t know which part of the room I’ll be facing after that ambitious twirl.
My cat twitches his ears and sits like Bast staring at me with disdain. Reliable warm lap no longer available. I did want her to get off the couch and chase me around the apartment, but whatever she’s doing now looks stupid and thank God it doesn’t involve me.
How do you kill the social self in you? You see, my social self isn’t the decent smiling hello-how-are-you-today kind. Social self here is the mask I used to put on when I’m with most people I used to know. With every beat their faces flash at me. I wonder what they’d think of me if they saw me. And somehow the thought of them elates me, because finally I’m having an honest moment. I’m being the person within. I took off the mask, shed the layers the years have carefully stitched around my edges since I was 19. Layer after layer after layer of social selves that coexisted together like it was the most natural thing in the world to be all of that and still find your real self at the end of the day as you crawl into bed.
I’m still struggling with words, Keyboard, so give me a chance.
I have so much unfinished words I’ve written that my social selves won’t let me share. And whenever I try to write something new they take me back to my unfinished work and hook me there. They’ve got me by the scruff of the neck.
Wow I’m so rusty! It feels weird sharing this. It’s like doing the dance while everyone is watching.
But if people were to matter then those social selves are not going anywhere. You see, it takes a bit to be able to stand naked to the world. But to my credit, whenever the world’s instilled thoughts became too much for me to handle and began to choke me I’ve tried to shock it with a daring plunge. Some were good decisions and some weren’t. In some I was truly naked and in others I was a new social self only in hiding. But I’ve always taken a plunge approach to change in my life. With time I’ve discovered that those plunges are my reset button. That’s just what I do when things are really, really jammed in my head.
Recently I’ve discovered that that fear of standing naked to the world with nothing on to define you has crippled me all my life. The inevitable social question of “what do you do” had to be filled instantly with something, anything, or it’s death to me. Most people filled it up with answers like “I teach, I write, I make, I sell…” For years now I’ve had no answer to that question. My classic answer was “I used to…” for quite some time until I discovered how sad it was.
Still can’t get naked?
Watch me crawl on the floor now to the sound of those drums and you’ll get your answer.
Of course I can! My naked answer is “Nothing.”
My nothing is filled with so many possibilities that I find it liberating. It’s the closest I can get to the fresh child who believed she could become a figure skater, or the teenager who wanted to run off on a motorcycle with a custom made boyfriend, or the 20 year old who wanted to start a career in film making. It’s the richest I can ever be, because it is mine the way I want it to be. It’s nobody else’s and it’s definitely no longer what someone wants it to be. Behind the nothing that everyone sees – that vain social nothing that shames people – is the fresh, soothing silence of a new beginning.
And I know that I have to do this dance, naked, in front of that same condescending world, to put an eternal shield on my beginning.
#1 by Brenda on March 11, 2014 - 4:54 am
How invigorating! I want to call it poetry….but feel perhaps it is better to call it nothing at all. Welcome back, Arwa :)
#2 by Arwa Salah Mahmoud on March 11, 2014 - 8:27 am
Thank you Brenda! Always great to hear from you.
#3 by Salma on March 12, 2014 - 7:33 am
You call it getting naked, I call it coming full circle!! And please, please, just don’t catch cold!!;)
#4 by noramorta on March 16, 2014 - 10:12 pm
inspiring :) i love it!!
#5 by Ohoud Saad on March 24, 2014 - 12:48 pm
So very beautiful, relevant and inspiring