|On a wintry day in late November 2006, I found myself in the beginning stages of what were to become a series of revelations. Having gone on a pilgrimage to Cambridge, Massachusetts to find some medical relief for what ailed me emotionally and spiritually, I met the distinguished psychiatrist and researcher Dr. John Ratey. I had recently devoured his book Shadow Syndromes* , which was full of profoundly inspiring nuances. My husband Lino first read—skimmed really—the book, which was on loan from a friend. He forwarded the book on to me as a casual gift, saying—in a nonchalant and relaxed tone—“You should read this. I think you’ll find this interesting.” If there was ever an understatement, using “interesting” as the sole adjective for my own reading experience was the epitome. The book provoked a sense that there could be someone who could understand my painful nostalgia for external community—a longing was fueled by a fear of aging, separation, death, and uncertainty. That longing was so desperate that I had been on the verge of running away to beautiful Italy, where I would find “safety, community, and home.” I was particularly open to Ratey’s buffet of possibilities because I had already begun to wake up to my own needs for a more real, grounded, and thoughtful direction.
Lino did not realize that by merely sharing a good book, he was handing over to me an electric experience that sparked new waves of thought and initial transformation—I knew that I needed to meet the man behind the text (providing that he was alive and closer than the North Pole).
I traveled to Cambridge in search of some genuine understanding of my emotional plight. The consultation with John Ratey was a sort of homecoming because I felt that he really “got” me; his smart, intuitive, and enthusiastic presence was a huge comfort (he seemed like a real human being rather than a famous practitioner on a pedestal).
Ratey diagnosed me with ADD, which was actually a relief because I had feared something more insidious. This whole experience was to be a powerful catalyst in my life. It gave birth to an intensified and heightened awareness in my work and personal life; it led to what I would come to call “clarity”.
For me clarity meant a real and vivid presence in my own life; it meant that decisions and perceptions depended less on worry or accommodation, and rather on what felt necessary or promising and right, at least right for the time being. This affected me physically: my posture became more upright, as if this position represented my present existence rather than bending forward towards the future or leaning backward in nostalgia for what I had never gotten. I also felt my emotional and intellectual posture was in a state of flux, shifting towards a more centered concentration in the present. I was not oblivious to the future or its concerns, but I was no longer obsessively worried about the things I could not control or as drawn to sadness over my children growing up and assuming their own directions.
I started to wake up from the seduction of premature decisions to retire to Italy and escape to a fantasized “perfect” community, even though I had no idea what living there would be like. I guess I had that that by leaving home, I could make the pain of my children leaving less painful, and I could do so by leaving first. It was scary because I felt I could have convinced Lino to pack his bags in a second—he is so taken with the Italian lifestyle, which, in fact, suits him so much better than the one here. However, all of this “escape” did not come to pass—my beginning clarity entered the scene and provided some grounding for both of us. I began to better practice what I have preached all these years: that real belonging comes with a belonging to oneself. In fact, I feel that I am in the midst of finding true clarity and belonging through my capacity to dance—physically and mentally—and to share the joys and the journey of life.
As it happened, one of the outcomes of these adventures was my beginning “vision” of a certain kind of ADHD** person as having a sort of dancing mind. I saw how wandering back and forth between thoughts and feelings was like a dance—coming upon the interconnedness of all things and relationships in a very nonlinear and out-of-the-box choreography, which is at times unexpected but still organic and meaningful. I found a deeper acceptance and cherishing of my sensitivity to and about people, my humor, playfulness, empathy, and definitely nonlinear way of thinking. The intuitive parts of my being and thinking became more precious rather than cause for doubt or hiding, which can be difficult for a nonlinear soul in an often rigid and linear world.
I realized that my patients who really appreciated their therapy with me and even got better, have been and would be those with a love for my “outside of the box” way of being. Even more urgent would be their own pressing need to be understood for who they are rather than be categorized or colored within the lines.
This is the story—clearly only part of a story—of my new concentration in my writing and my clarity: my vision of a web site to take on the essence of the term dancing mind, which had come to be meaningful to those around me and to myself. I invite you to recognize the dancer within and to be open to new and diverse ways of looking at the world.