Psychic excitability and the quest for wholeness: one young man's journey

I recently spoke to a kind and brilliant young man about how various life experiences have imprinted him. We discussed the degree to which the stimuli he experiences and the associations he makes in response to the stimuli (which can seem, to some, to be very much out of proportion to the original stimuli) have affected his growth and development.

He has (to borrow a Dabrowskian term) psychic excitability.

He has a broader, deeper, and more lasting experience of all phenomena.

He is highly motivated to know and understand and contribute and to impact a world and a people that, most times, he connects to so profoundly that he is utterly lost in the experienced communion. At other times, jarringly, he is rendered senseless by it.

He is horror-struck by acts of heartlessness, by mindless exploitation of resources and human lives, and by what seems, to him, heavy-handedness in how human beings relate to each other, or organize in groups, or share space with animals. I gently remind him that “Compassion is not weakness.” (T Jay Taylor). We think of ways to keep him strong, to lace hope throughout his days.

I know that he seeks to:

“See the world anew and write down the bones of it.”

A. D. Sams

I know that he thirsts for the deepest of self-knowing, not as an end, but to be sure that he “does no harm.” If he understands himself more fully (he imagines) – in all his imperfections – he is less likely to harm another with unwitting bias, narrow points of view, or unexamined perspectives. He is more likely to be able to see others in their fullness and accept them as they are.

He lives wholly as a deeply sensitive, highly imaginative, and exceptionally aware being who can chase a deep interest or emergent thought and a whole day disappears.

He has learned to live authentically, despite rejections and misunderstanding, but he is often alone. Sometimes that is a blessing, and sometimes he is deeply lonely.

He experiences the world in a kind of technicolor of sense experiences, internal responses, complex emotional webs of layered and interlinked feelings, fierce intellectual engagement, and creative expression. He leans into impossible questions. He imagines a world that is just and fair and full of humor and appreciation.

I assure him he is already part of what he seeks. That his depth and quest and capacities are vital; that the world needs him as much as he loves it.

I assure him that he will find others.

I assure him that he has a place and that he is already part of what he seeks.