“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)
When I first heard this line, I knew exactly what it meant. Although months have passed since I last watched the film (I regret to admit I’ve never read the actual book), I was reminded of it just this second. Never has it been so applicable to me. Life sucks us into a whirlwind of sheer and utter happiness, dreadful and searing pain, and the confusion that consumes us from these alternating emotions. Being within is something we experience most times. We’re within when our friends come give us a ring to tell us about how their date went. We’re within when we ‘accidentally’ eavesdrop on a conversation on the tube going home. We’re within when we attend Sunday sermons at church. Being within is being alive.
Being without, on the other hand, suggests that we aren’t living. We share experiences with others, but they aren’t our own. Before drama took over my life, I was just a passerby, living in the moments of others. Drama isn’t necessary but it does help put you in the loop.