I love to sit and watch storms from our balcony. It’s perfect. Sixth Floor. Still get to see plenty of the ground below and ahead and above, the sky. It is a perfect retreat from harm. Sheltered, you can watch with unlimited fascination the immense power this storm demonstrates to those below. And feel its indifference toward us.
I wonder if that would make a good metaphor for writing. But it’s somewhat convoluted and I don’t have the energy for that now. It’s been a long long day. Very hot and humid. And it’s nice to just sit around and chill for a bit. Kind of lazy. For a change. A different rhythm altogether.
That’s what it’s all about, really.
Everything has a rhythm. And rhythm is closely tied to Mathematics. What keeps the universe together, after all? But then we have our own internal rhythm. And for some it is different. It is not what is considered normal. It’s considered abnormal. But these are relative terms. Rather, we should say, each person’s rhythm is different. Especially when it comes to how the brain operates.
But rhythm is a complex word.
It would be interesting for a mathematician to come up with a formula that explains Bipolar Disorder, or Depression. How would she do that? The variables involved seem infinite. How does she account for the idiosyncrasies which are standard features of these disorders? And yet, there must be a way to account for these variables. Because that’s what Mathematics does — Ah, Mathematics. This, coming from someone who still uses her fingers to count!
Inherent in rhythm, however, is another type of variability. Its capacity for accidents. And sometimes these accidents produce marvelous things: Art, Music, Writing, Scientific Discoveries, to name a few.
Martin Luther King, I hear, suffered from Depression and referred to it as a tool which fueled his rhetoric. Kay Redfield Jamison wrote a book, Touched With Fire, about Artists whose names are familiar today who suffered from Depression and Bipolar Disorder. I’m surprised that this has not been studied more carefully and fully. Some say there is no connection between creativity and Divine Madness. There are those who are successful artists who do not suffer from this disease and still produce works of Art. However, none come to mind quickly — unlike with the other. Robert Schumann, the composer, suffered from Bipolar Disorder, and his creative output was influenced by his Depressive and Hypomanic episodes. Keats, Shelley, Lord Byron — the English 18th century poets, The Romantics — all suffered from Bipolar Disorder. Van Gogh, of course.
Ironically, the Romantics poets wrote about their illnesses — their tempers — even though they didn’t possess the terms we use today to describe them. And we would do well to read their thoughts to further our understanding of this disorder.