Finding Nemo

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Spark

I'd had the spark my whole life.  But 4 years ago, on Oct. 15, 2007, I lost it.  And today, 3 and 1/2 years later, I have finally found it again.  Its hard to describe how sweet it is to have it back.

The spark is something people either have or do not have.  Its well known that a baby's personality comes out very early in life, and its also well known that the same set of parents can have two babies with two very different temperaments.  There is a large genetic component to each of us that makes us who we are, regardless of the world imposed around us.  The spark is very clearly one of those in-born traits, and I believe it is the most important genetic component in determining one's destiny in the world.

There is a dark side to it as well.  But before I get into that, I will attempt to describe what it feels like.  I have always had a little bit of crazy in me since I was a little boy.  It feels sometimes like I'm going to explode, in a good way.  I get warm fuzzies very easily, that feeling of being ALIVE, a little shiver and chill down my body.  They start at the base of the skull and go down my spine and into my arms and legs, its the feeling some people describe as having been touched by a "spirit."  After a good night of sleep and a cup of coffee I feel like I can barely contain myself, I want to just do EVERYTHING all at once.  I love that feeling of being fully charged up.  Its made me who I am, someone who wants to DO stuff, someone who wants to achieve, make something out of my life.  I feel like I have that special energy level that can set me apart.  I read very quickly, too quickly sometimes, I often find myself scanning pages and skipping over material that I don't find is relevant.  I remember as a kid I would go crazy waiting for the class to catch up to me during group reading sessions, it would drive me nuts.

But, this "spark" comes at a high cost.  People who have it may be described as having "A-Type" personalities.  They often have such a drive that they are blinded to the people around them.  It took me a very long time into my adult life before I realized I would often constantly interrupt people around me with my own thoughts.  When others talk, my mind constantly races ahead of the conversation.  By anticipating what they would say, I would often interrupt well before the other was finished because I simply didn't have the patience to let them finish.  I had already moved onto the next thread!  I had a nickname in college as "Jibber-Jabber" because I would just talk all the time.  Obviously, there is a very fine line between the spark and the common diagnosis of ADHD.  I'm sure I have a mild case of this.  But I would say for me, personally, it isn't to the point where it has hurt me at work.  In fact, I find it helps me to quickly multi-task and stay on top of things as a project manager.  In social situations I believe I have gotten a little better, working everyday to slow down, pace myself, waiting for others to finish, and trying to be a better listener.  Overall, I feel this restless fireball of energy inside of me has always felt like a positive thing, a buddy, a companion.

On Oct. 15, 2007, I got sick.  I woke up the morning of the 16th, and a piece of me was missing.  The spark had vanished.  On top of the physical symptoms that began to develop over the course of the next two years, my mind itself was changing.  My head was filling with mud.  There was this physical sensation of a heavy weight, a dense fog, pushing down on my brain.  I felt slow, lost, in limbo.  I couldn't concentrate.  I was very tired all the time.  But over the past year, finally, I've slowly regained a little bit of my old self.  A few weeks ago, after a good night of sleep, a cup of coffee, and a gorgeous sunrise over the beach, I suddenly felt something very familiar.  A cold, warm tingle vibrated in the base of my skull, down my spine, and out into my fingers and toes.  My old friend had returned.

I once dated a girl who also had the spark.  Its one of those things I can see immediately, and I always make instant connections with other people who possess it.  We find each other naturally.  She called it her "butterfly" which I always found funny.  But in some ways, its a good description.  Its like a little spirit inside, constantly flapping its wings, trying to lift up in the air.  It raises us up with it, as long as we don't let it consume us.  It is the spark that drives me to travel.  It is the spark that makes me so restless, a constant wanderer, someone who is never fully satisfied with staying still.  I worry that it will make me a lonely old man someday.  But then, I realize that some people are destined to be rolling stones, tumbleweeds, to travel the world, to be seekers.  That is my fate, and I embrace it.

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