To start off with a little background information let me tell you about one of the books I’m currently reading called “The Book of Life – A compendium of the best autobiographical and memoir writing” by Eve Claxton. This book is organized in chronological order from the very beginning of life’s events and memories from many notable autobiographies right through to the end of life. Each person cited whenever they have “something to share”, as if everyone, no matter during which time they lived, miraculously came together in one place talking about their life around a huge dinner table. The book is really amazing, but I digress, on with the post.
Have you ever had the thought of doing something totally outrageous and unorthodox, something really stupid, but also something you were afraid of doing, for fear of pain, or what others may think of you, being reprimanded, humiliated or whatever the case may be.
For example, off the top of my head, for no reason you would like to see how it looked for a cup of coffee to go sailing through the air in the middle of a populated, public place, not because you’re angry or anything, but just to see how it looked. How would the coffee spill out the cup as it sailed, how would is shatter against the wall or floor, the sound it would make, the response people would have. It might sound stupid. Why would I ever want to do that?
I do sometimes get weird ideas like that at strange times, not that I actually do them. But why not? Because if everyone decided to act on their impulses the world will be in chaos? Well I’m not talking about going out and doing whatever you feel like, doing something morally wrong or unlawful, or hurting others. I’m talking about doing something to break the fear that it is unacceptable to act out of line once in while in your life. Break the fear of being ridiculed, humiliated, of being wrong?
Now to get to the reason I’m writing this long post and to wrap up my seemingly odd introduction.
Like I said earlier I do sometimes get these weird ideas, which I never actually do, but as it turns out one of these strange thoughts that lingered with me for some time in my youth (relatively speaking), was also something Salvador Dali had thought and actually did, as cited from an exert I read out of the book I mentioned in my introduction, which in turn came out of Salvador Dali’s autobiography, The Secret Life of Salvador Dali, 1942.
So without further suspense, here’s my stupid idea which I once shared with Salvador Dali, as written by him.
I was sixteen. It was at the Marist Brothers’ School in Figueras. From our classrooms we went out into the recreation yard by a nearly vertical stone stairway. One evening, for no reason at all, I got the idea of flinging myself down from the top of the stairs. I was all set to do this, when at the last moment fear held me back. I was haunted by the idea, however, secretly nursing the plan to do it the following day. And the next day I could in fact no longer hold back, and at the moment of going down with all my classmates I made a fantastic leap into the void, landed on the stairs, and bounced all the way to the bottom. I was violently bumped and bruised all over, but an intense and inexplicable joy made the pain entirely secondary. The effect produced upon the other boys and the superiors who came running to my aid was enormous. Wet handkerchiefs were applied to my head.
I was at this time extremely timid, and the slightest attention made me blush to the ears; I spent my life hiding, and remained solitary. This flocking of people around me caused in me a strange emotion. Four days later I re-enacted the same scene, but this time I threw myself from the top of the stairway during the second recreation period, at the moment when the animation in the yard was at its height. I even waited until Brother Superior was also outdoors. The effect of my fall was even greater than the first time: before flinging myself down I uttered a shrill scream so that everyone would look at me. My joy was indescribable and the pain from the fall insignificant. This was a definite encouragement to continue, and from time to time I repeated my fall. Each time I was about to go down the stairs there was great expectation. Will he throw himself off, or will he not? What was the pleasure of going down quietly and normally when I realized a hundred pairs of eyes were eagerly devouring me?
I shall always remember a certain rainy day October evening. I was about to start down the stairs. The yard exhaled a strong odor of damp earth mingled with the odor of roses; the sky, on fire from the the setting sun, was massed with sublime clouds in the form of rampant leopards, Napoleons and caravels, all disheveled; my upturned face was illuminated by the thousand lights of apotheosis. I descended the stairway step by step, with a slow deliberation of blind ecstasy so moving that suddenly a great silence fell upon the shouting whirlwind in the play-yard. I would not at that moment have changed places with the a god.
At first you might note his insecurities, how he was, at first, timid and then became somewhat attention seeking, some would even say brave.
I believe in the power of the unconscious mind and think somehow, deep down, Salvador Dali knew of his insecurities and his unconscious mind gave him the answer to overcoming them. Weather he acted on it or not was his choice. What would have happened to him had he not thrown himself down the stairs? Would he have still turned out the same person?
I’m certain he would of eventually overcome his timid nature had he not thrown himself down the stairs, it’s just one of those things you grow out of; life forces it out of you, but what of those things that we don’t grow out of, or rather grow into, such as fear.
If you also sometimes get that sudden spark of a crazy idea, maybe we should think; What is my unconscious mind trying to tell me here? Is there some inner fear or insecurity my unconscious mind is trying to get me to overcome? What do you think?