Main content starts here, tab to start navigating

Embracing Intensity

a sky view looking up at night


Each week, Justin Behan dives deep into the meaning of life. It may or may not have anything to do with Green Wolf, beer, baseball, or The Transylvanian Twist. He tries to keep on point, but may meander. He tries to keep the philosophical discussion above board, but he may dive off it and into the swimming pool. Without further adieu, here is this week’s tangent:


We were having a regular old Thursday morning chat, my partner and I getting ready for school and work, when a word came up in reference to me:


It was a casual commentary. The word passed without notice at first. I left the kitchen and was on my way to take Star on a walk through the fields, when I stopped and straightened. Oh my god.


It was as if the word – shot from a cannon – had missed me the first time around and hit me on the ricochet by the coat closet. I walked back to the kitchen and said to Tracy: “I am intense, aren’t I.”

Two emotions were playing at that moment: disgust and relief. Relief, because it was as though I had discovered a missing piece of myself. Disgust, because the thought of my being an intense person was bitter and unpleasant. I want to be on the other side of the street from an intense person, right? We all love Walken or Pacino on the big screen, but do we really want to be in the same room as them?

Perhaps Tracy noticed my inner horror. Smiling, she said: “Well, at least life with you is never boring.”

So, I went on a walk with my dog.

There’s something about being in motion that relaxes and energizes me. I don’t know what it is. I can be walking or driving. This is when I can clear my head. When I’m in motion, I come up with the best verses, stories ideas, or eureka moments.

Intensity comes in many flavors – like the different love you feel for different people, or like all the myriad snowflakes which fall from the sky, or like all the sets of Monopoly. Some intense people can make you feel unsafe and insecure. Some can hold down a group conversation and bring everyone along for the ride. Some give off quiet intensity, like a musician or an artist. Some are in control, some aren’t.

My intensity is rooted in searching. I’m never quite content. At its best, this drives me to create and strive for deeper meaning. On the flip side, because I’m never quite satisfied, I can become moody or snappish to those I’m closest.

By internalizing the word intense, I’ll be able to be more aware of the times I lose patience. It will allow me to be a better father, partner, and friend. Losing patience and becoming irritable is just my body’s response to feeling dissatisfied as I strive to find greater fulfillment. I think I’ll more easily be able to step back and smile in understanding of that intense drive that is myself.

-=Justin Behan

Drink.  Howl.  Repeat