Thursday, November 13, 2008

Intense Definition

in·tense (in tens′)


1. occurring or existing in a high degree; very strong; violent, extreme, sharp, vivid, etc. an intense light
2. strained to the utmost; strenuous; earnest; fervent; zealous intense thought
3. having or showing strong emotion, firm purpose, great seriousness, etc. an intense person
4. characterized by much action, emotion, etc.

My first year of college we anonymously gave each person in class a word. Any word in the English language. (There are over 200,000 words in the English language) This was the word I got six times. Intense. I got my list and cried. Weeks later as I got my heart broken for the first time, my long distance (ex) boyfriend said ‘that’s why I love you, you just feel things more than me’. I intensely wanted to punch him in the face. This word has been my label since I was a young post divorce child asking seven year olds on the blacktop ‘how they feel’. I was an ‘intense child’. While others were labeled as ‘creative’, ‘bright’ ‘driven’ and ‘attractive’ I was suddenly doomed to a life of reading Proust and drinking whiskey in a corne, chain smoking, wearing all black after cutting myself in the bathroom while listening to Tori Amos. (I do not listen to Tori Amos).
I never understood this word. Hated this word. It seemed like a copout. Almost an adverb. Something you only say because you don’t know what to say. Like a nice way of saying ‘ you have issues’ or ‘feel shit’, but never quite addressing what it is it is assumed you feel. I’m sorry I’m being a little too…douchey.

When you look intense up in the dictionary douchey does not come up. Before this evening I have never looked up intense in the dictionary. I guess I just associated it with being in tense, a state of tension, restricted, which frankly made me feel more restricted and tense.
Looking at the definition intense doesn’t seem so tense. It actually seems quite open. ‘Existing in an extreme degree’ ‘vivid’ ‘marked by or expressive of great zeal, energy, determination, or concentration’ The more I read the more I feel people over estimate me,perhaps I’ve fooled them. Zeal? Who has zeal anymore? ‘Exhibiting strong feeling or earnestness of purpose’ Okay I’ll take it. ‘deeply felt’ Is it possible to feel something half assed? ‘Characterized by much action, emotion, etc.’ ‘Etc?’ The definition gets an ‘etc’? This seems a little all inclusive this intensity? It might as well say ‘whatevy’ afterwards.

The truth is I want to feel fully, good or bad. I want to think fully. I want to be earnest in what I feel and think and do. Whether that’s intensely being stupid, or immature, intensely failing, succeeding, loving, hurting, falling up stairs, rolling down hills, eating jars of peanut butter; I want to be there for it. All of it.
Because it’s not worth it if you aren’t.
Yes perhaps I am that word, and I’m apparently’ a lot to handle’. I know this, been told it. Been left and have left for it. I was an exhausting kid, and I’m probably an exhausting young woman. But I’m not asking the questions of other people I’m asking them of myself.

When people call me ‘intense’ I just laugh in their faces, but hey I’m laughing fully… (Or I just shoot lazer beams out of my eyes).

1 comment:

Sean Dillon said...

So here it is with you and intense: it isn't that you necessarily feel things more deeply than the rest of us (though maybe you do... I couldn't say). It is just that you are so bracingly present. I think most of us live in worlds that are just a little foggy. That fog is made up of habit and assumptions and lazy perception. And you have a way of sort of blowing that fog away. Which is a very good thing. But we get used to our fog, and are sometimes resistant to giving it up. So we slap people like you with labels like intense. It isn't something you should resist. It is a compliment, however backhanded. At least, that's what I think.