To engage or not to engage...now that is a question?

‘You have to master the art of disengagement. You have to learn to detach!’ I was advised by a very wise family member when I was a young woman.

I must admit, being a heady mix of intense passion and raw sensitivity I have never mastered the art of disengagement. And on his advice I have failed miserably. Yet intrigued by the topic of detachment I have been compelled to ponder and question is it better to disengage or to engage?

Detachment throws a person into the mode of critic where observation becomes their main action. An aloofness comes from the over exercised intellect on a dry high ground above the push pull of chaotic emotions. To stand apart and away from the action is to watch and judge. To embody disengagement can be mentally satisfying but can start to dry the moist emotions of the heart. It is easy to think clearly and to judge the vulnerable and awkward others who put their heart on the line every moment. You can be pragmatic and clear as you work in the realm of unclouded thought distant to emotional distraction. Although the seductive safety of this position can draw many to this mode a real danger can be that the self can begin to fade within a prison of crusty thoughts starved of the liquid unevenness of raw feeling.

An advantage of detachment is the absence of emotional pain. If you detach from life you become numb and no longer feel the excruciating pain of life. But a disadvantage can be that your emotions dry up and you emotionally die a little every day.

Why then do so many chose the sterile ground of detachment?

Power, a sense of control and superiority over those who stumble and fall and fail risking it all to be real. A person can hide the fragile imperfect self behind a poker face of aloofness. If their heart breaks down or breaks apart they can hunker down behind the cool mask.

One can divert, delay, dismiss and go into denial of pain. But each day they grow more distant to the life blood of life and feeling.

And…

Shrink

Shutdown

Shrivel as life becomes blocked in a sanitized tomb.

Freeze, not burn inside the barren ice storm of non feeling.

A player now strutting and fretting on the wounded stage.

On the other hand engagement is immediate and raw and felt and is the child of courage and strength. To be our vulnerability is the greatest courage of all. Engagement is active and risky involving a struggle to integrate the heart and mind. It is messy and breaks the heart every day. It is moist and fertile and exposes us to our vulnerability and takes tenacity to sustain.

Engagement is hard and is giving and requires that the heart is open and curious. A heart that asks questions of others is a healthy heart. And it is vital for the feeling flow of creativity. It is worth dancing in the centre of the fire of life. Risking the burn to be utterly, completely, unabashedly alive.

I choose engagement every time – it is worth the risk and the raw!

© Anthea Slade 2011

8 June 2011

To engage or not to engage...now that is a question?

Anthea  Slade

Carlton North, Australia

Artist's Description

Thoughts and musings on engagement and disengagement.
Written and uploaded on 8 June 2011

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