Coming From Cold

Warm up.

It’s the first step to so many things, from exercise to performance.   A cold engine runs rough, can’t start purring until it warms up.   Brett Butler said the best advice she ever had about auditioning was to come on like you had just been killing for twenty minute, hot and loose.   TBB and I performed our best after singing showtunes in the 23 story stair shafts of the Portland Hilton.

Women have their own special warm-up game.  A few rounds of “‘Gorgeous!’ ‘No You’re Gorgeous!'” can always heat us up.  Find something to compliment, get it returned, sharing jam to loosen the trepidation, open the flow.

My experience of my life, though, has been very, very cold.   From the Aspergers approach of my parents to my very damaged feet, which always feel frozen, I know cold.

I always start frigid, so cold that I am afraid that, like a wiener dipped in liquid nitrogen, I will crack into shards at the slightest hit.

There are many reasons for this, including training, venue, isolation and attitude.   My heat was cast as sickness from my earliest days, usually by people defending their own coldness.   They need to stay cold, compartmentalized, isolated, frost-stabilized.

I live in a deep freeze, cutting back and scrimping, without reflected enthusiasm or joy.   Exuberance is to be distrusted as a canard, indulgent, immodest and cheap.

Thought is a cold process, chilling down the heat of emotion so it can be explored and managed, and thought was my salvation from a challenging less than childhood.  I learned how to freeze dry emotions and turn them into symbols for dissection and storage, desiccated specimen feelings pressed between blotters and stored in huge mental racks.

Any heat I had was in service, the zest of giving my parents one more good day.  My own life went on ice to do that for a decade.   After they passed, I was placed into a twenty-two month hibernation, enduring on the edge of scarcity.

To warm up, I try and rub ideas together in my brain.  This does produce sparks, but rarely of the warming variety, instead chilling me down farther.   I look for help warming up, but so many helpers seem to think that their job is to offer more contextualizing thought, cooling things down for examination and reorientation.

In the same way that Buddhists have told me that the only way to peace is through detachment, most tell me to cool off more and consider my choices.   For a person whose life has been deep frozen into a state of entropy, suggesting more chilling is just a kind of malpractice.

For a long time I have said that I need the heat of “yes,” need the reflection of the positive, need someone who not only gets my jokes but also laughs at them.

I know how to be cold, stiff, self-conscious and modulated.  I know.

What I don’t know is how to be hot, loose, free and relaxed.

Even when  I do warm a bit, there is always another freeze coming, another run at emotional hypothermia designed to cool off life and create more stasis, more incapacitation.   The frostbite has even become permanent in bits of me, starting with the feet.

My challenge is not to turn off my brain, removing the sharp clarity.   My challenge is to meld that cool with the heat of action that keeps the heart warm, open, resilient and playful.

I am coming from a very, very cold place.

I go back to a very, very cold place that sucks away heat very quickly.

No matter how much I store heat, insulating it by wrapping it in symbol to preserve meaning, the power of heat isn’t just in its meaning, it mostly in the excitement of vibrating atoms that challenge entropy.

Going in cold doesn’t give much leverage for success.

Finding people to share heat with, though, has proven to be difficult.