4 months ago, i haphazardly got rid of almost everything i owned from 6 years of life besides what could fit into 2 suitcases, and moved out of new york without ever really deciding to do so. then i moved from place to place, spent a few weeks pretty much just staring at the cutest baby ever (my nephew), and finally moved to korea last month, where i have continued to move around.
this constant state of flux has really challenged my sense of reality and my connections to the fixtures of my life. and the word that crossed my mind to describe my current state was “unhinged”.
i think it has to be my favorite euphemism for “crazy”, “abnormal”, etc.
a hinge is something that fixes one object to another, so that the object can only move in a predetermined way, pivoting from a fixed location.
it’s an interesting metaphor for human beings, and really telling that to be “unhinged” is considered a dangerous state. we are creatures of habit, fixed to certain ways of existing and perceiving the world. we become fixed to our ideas of what is ‘normal,’ which are often shaped by information that is fed to us, or ignorance of the different, equally valid ways that people exist in this world. though our lives change constantly, we continue moving back and forth along the same drawn-out paths, perceiving our lives through the same fixed frameworks, prejudices and fears. we continue to be oppressive to others in the same ways, avoiding anything that might challenge us to see our beliefs and actions for what they truly are. we keep considering the same range of possibilities for ourselves, refusing to see all the ground that we are not crossing, experiences we are not having, and people we are not meeting or understanding. we continue to silence ourselves because we somehow feel subject to a system of unspoken rules about what we are allowed to say.
there have been moments throughout my life when i have felt completely unhinged, major moments when my world changed and i had no choice but to move away from the place i had been comfortably occupying, and reassess the versions of reality that i had accepted and operated by until that moment.
every instance has been painful and confusing. it has meant losing foundations for my sense of self, becoming alienated from friends, and redefining my ideas of success.
but once i become unhinged, i free myself from a lot of fears and expectations, and learn to stop operating according to the same knee-jerk reactions. suddenly i become less concerned with being useful to systems that i realize do not work for me or most people, and i begin to transgress those systems that once held so much power over my life.
and though i may expand my universe and find new ways of challenging myself in those moments, ultimately there are still parts of me that remain fixed to other things. sometimes they are new things. new communities of people, by whose standards, real or imagined, that i will continue to assess myself. new sets of values by which i will determine the rightness or wrongness of things. new fears and preoccupations that will border my possibilities.
and i don’t think any of this is necessarily right or wrong. existing in set ways for set times has allowed me to understand myself better, to make space for fragile relationships, and to realize obvious, constant truths i had been missing.
but in the end, each time i free myself from one more thing that was making me experience the world back and forth, i become more willing to unhinge myself again, and search, unattached and unafraid, for a more expansive reality.