Absence of Indifference



During the past few months, I have been heavily considering the tendency I have to numb myself.  It is a coping mechanism and there are many ways to numb.  For me, it’s like there is an internal off switch. It’s  been available to me since since childhood, and I still sometimes flip the switch when things get rough.  I turn off all my lights and just shut down.  My eyes are open, and I am moving, and I am doing the daily chores. But I am not really there.  My surroundings don’t feel completely real or vivid.  I know I am not-at-all alone in this practice, which is often subconscious.  We numb out of fear, out of pain, lack of awareness, lack of self-worth…there are so many reasons.  When we are numb or indifferent, we feel the pain less, but we also feel pleasure less.  Physiologically, we get numb when we are cold.  If we extend that thought to our emotions, it’s like icy layers of bitterness and apathy have frozen onto our souls.  Can we warm that ice away…and what happens if it melts?

I wrote a short poem about these feelings:


The sham show is unstrung

Sinking anvils free my tongue

Leaving me untied, filling me up

Giving me plenty, making me fall

Finding vacancy for the numb

Wanting all, wanting none

There is also a song that sometimes comes to mind when I consider these thoughts on numbing…

“Stubborn Love” by the Lumineers (one I have heard a lot of because my son was a big fan for awhile before latching on to Tom Petty…)

And really it’s two lines in particular from this song that strike a deep chord in me:
“it’s better to feel pain than nothing at all, the opposite of love’s indifference” -The Lumineers

And then something “strange” happened.  It’s just another example of many unusual “coincidences” I have had lately during the process of introspection and creating art, and just by simply living my life with seeing eyes.  It truly amazes me.  These “coincidences” don’t seem strange at all anymore…just deep connections from the universe if you choose to see them and see them that way.  As I started writing this blog, I wanted to have some music on as I wrote, per usual.  I recalled that there was a song by Pearl Jam titled “Indifference” that I hadn’t listened to or thought of in probably at least a few years…but somewhere in the buried archives in my mind it flickered.  As I listened to the song (and began writing about this project that I had already named and adding the photos I had already taken) I was struck by the parallels I saw between several lines in the song and the images I had created.  This time when I listened to the song, I really paid attention and heard the cautionary tale it tells about indifference.

“Indifference” by Pearl Jam

“i will light the match this mornin’, so i won’t be alone
watch as she lies silent, for soon light will be gone
i will stand arms outstretched, pretend i’m free to roam
i will make my way, through, one more day in hell…
how much difference does it make
how much difference does it make…
i will hold the candle till it burns up my arm
i’ll keep takin’ punches until their will grows tired
i will stare the sun down until my eyes go blind
hey i won’t change direction, and i won’t change my mind
how much difference does it make
how much difference does it make..
how much difference…
i’ll swallow poison, until i grow immune
i will scream my lungs out till it fills this room
how much difference
how much difference
how much difference does it make
how much difference does it make…”
I will always work at chipping away at the ice inside, because I’d rather live with warmth.  Life always throws us challenges and pain along with the pleasures.  This year is already proving to be one that is testing my coping mechanisms pretty hard.  There has been a lot of illness in our house, and the local political climate (a microcosm of the entire political landscape) has swirled up tsunami waves that are literally reaching our doorstep, threatening big changes.  Nothing is ever guaranteed, ruled out, or static; and nothing is gained without struggle or change.  I hope that I have made enough efforts to engage my soul to fight- fight in the sense that I will not give up by turning off the lights and growing cold.  That I will pursue the day as a warm and passionate being.  Not avoiding or waiting until it’s too late to engage in all the life circumstances that surface daily and require our light switches to be on.
Natalie resides in Peoria, Arizona, with her husband, two children, and two dogs. Her artistic journey has taken many twists and turns but photography and writing have become the primary outlets for her artistic expression. She is an artist at Offset.com.   Her work/photography has been published by Lensbaby, Beyond the Wanderlust, and has been licensed for ads by Samsung and other companies for advertisements. Her best days are filled with trying to guide and raise up her offspring and pups, music, reading, creating photographs and writings, hiking, yoga, cooking, and sky-gazing.  In the social media world, she can be found on Instagram @natalie_a_wheeler, and as a moderator for @theechoesinside, a hub for self-portraiture.

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