My roommate says herself that she is not the best at articulating herself… When she tries to describe someone she often uses the word “ness.” For example, she will say, “He is so funny! Like, you know, just his ness is makes me laugh at everything he does!” As ridiculous as this may sound, it’s accurate and I have come to love it over the years as another word for someone’s essence or aura. I think, it is in fact Liz Gilbert’s ness that makes Eat, Pray, Love funny. I mean, honestly a lot of what happens to her isn’t funny, but it is the way she presents it that makes it funny. A perfect example of this is within Gilbert’s thoughts during an attempt at meditation in the Ashram:
Here you are in India, in an Ashram in one of the holiest pilgrimage sites on earth. And instead of communing with the divine, you’re trying to plan where you’ll be meditating a year from now in a home that doesn’t exist in a city yet to be determined. How about this, you spastic fool—how about you try to meditate right here, right now, right where you actually are? (172)
Meditation is not usually funny and honestly, neither is the fact that most of are probably similar to Liz in the fact that we struggle being present because we’re constantly thinking about what we have to do next, brooding over stresses that we have little control over (at least I know I am), but calling yourself a spastic fool, on the other hand, is quite funny. What makes this thought process most perfect though is that Gilbert calls herself a spastic fool within the context of her desire to be fully present, to be authentic in her meditation, to accept where and when she exists right now. Maybe her authentic self is a spastic fool, but it is within this moment that she accepts her ness that brings a smile to our faces.
At service this past Friday, the boy I was working with, Ronald, thought my ness was pretty funny. He was writing a paper about William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet; his thesis emphasized that foreshadowing was an integral part of the play and although his examples were accurate, he did not explain why foreshadowing mattered in the play. I asked him what the Prologue said and how it made him feel; together we decided that foreshadowing was important to Romeo and Juliet because most romantic tales do not end in suicide. The Prologue provides just enough information to spark curiosity and intrigue, to hook the reader. Ronald was attempting to make the point that foreshadowing gives hints to the audience to increase interest. I (obviously) got really passionate about the idea, which made him laugh… a lot. Neither Romeo and Juliet nor his paper was funny, but my authentic (and possibly excessive) enthusiasm was (apparently) quite hilarious. In the acceptance of my authentic, nerdy self we could bond over making fun of my ness and he could feel comfortable to express his authentic self knowing that I had already taken that risk.
Friday night after service, I went to go see Stomp at the Hippodrome for my Modern Dance class. I was quite excited, thinking that Stomp would be full of great, unique dance, which it was. What I didn’t expect, though, was how much I would laugh. Stomp was hilarious! There is no talking and I was so far away I could barely see, but still I could not stop laughing. For example, there was a part during which one of the dancers was sitting trying to read the newspaper, but everyone else was making so much noise with their newspapers, etc. that he couldn’t concentrate. One dancer, in particular, was making ridiculous shapes out of his newspaper just to annoy the first dancer. At one point, he made a bird and starting running around with it as if it was flying, when he got over the head of the first dancer, he made an awful spluttering sound to imply that the first dancer had been pooped on by the newspaper bird! It was so absurd that I could not help but laugh. I didn’t ever think that wordless dance could make me laugh, but it totally did. It was just the way that everything was done that made me giggle uncontrollably. Each character had a ness which was exaggerated without words to produce the most humorous dance I have ever seen.
I believe that my highest purpose is not my vocation, but, much like Liz Gilbert, to commit to my “never ending mission” to get to know, accept with love and therefore express my authentic ness. I have fallen in love with the spirit I feel within me, with my belief that we all have good within us, with humanity—each individual I meet, with justice, with forgiveness, with the feeling of utter joy, with yoga and what it does for me, with literature and the power that it has to completely change the way I see the world around me, with the human capacity to love and love’s capability to ignite both the givers and the receivers. I have fallen in love with my life and all that is in it, with song, with food, with art, with expressing myself in any way. I am afraid of being hurt, of being misunderstood, of failing, of the paralyzing effect of fear itself, of losing those I love, of myself, of change, of settling on something less than I know I deserve, of losing sight of my highest purpose, of anger, of death, of the reactions I might receive when I share the most precious parts of myself. My essence, my aura, my ness is all those things, but it is also a constant search for that which is authentic and that which brings me the most joy. Those times when I feel the most joyful I forget about roles I play, I forget to worry about what anyone thinks, I just am, I just exist. Laughter is like that. When I laugh, I don’t worry about how silly I look, the weird noises I’m making, or whether or not I, too, am a spastic fool. I just laugh. When I am living my highest purpose, I am existing in the moment, the “right here, right now.”