“Morrissey and I”An Enneagram type Four’s attemptto become her hero for one nightby Áine NÍ cheallaigh
I must start by talking about my heart. It all begins and ends in theheart when it comes to anything Morrissey. It all begins and ends in theheart when it comes to anything Four, and I think this story begins onthe day that I really, really saw Morrissey’s heart for the first time.It wasn’t all that long ago, St Patrick’s Day last year. Surprising, really, thatit’s just been 18 months, when you look at how far I’ve traveled with him.Eighteen months ago, I wasn’t a fan, but my girlfriend Nora was. She’d onlybecome a fan in the six months prior to that. A rough six months for Nora—her mother was dying of cancer. Morrissey was helping Nora through in abig way.And so on St Patrick’s Day, I sat on the couch and essentially said, Showme. Why suddenly all the posters, the DVDs the t-shirts? What is so greatabout this guy? Why do you love him so much?Nora put on a concert video called Who Put the M in Manchester, and myeyes were opened, or rather, my heart was. It smiled a rueful smile of recognition.Morrissey was without a doubt one of my people. A fellow travelerto the grave on the path known as Enneagram type Four.What is an Enneagram type Four? What made it so clear that Morrisseywas one?Leading Enneagram experts Don Riso and Russ Hudson describe thisheart-based, sensitive and withdrawn personality type in The Wisdom ofthe Enneagram: “We have named this type The Individualist because Foursmaintain their identity by seeing themselves as fundamentally different fromothers…More than any other type, Fours are acutely aware of and focusedon their personal differences and deficiencies.”Here on the screen, walking around the stage singing his life, was a Fourmade flesh. He was exquisitely aware of his difference, his deficiency (Theworld is full of crashing bores/And I must be one/Cause no one ever turnsto me to say/Take me in your arms/Take me in your arms/And love me). Hisawareness of his individuality was expressed with biting wit (So how cananybody say/They know how I feel/The only one around here who is me/Is me). And his phenomenal connection to the deep desires of his heart
As rehearsals began, I put a lot of energy into learning lyrics and training mybody to start to express itself in the vocabulary of Morrissey moves.To purify myself physically, I became a vegetarian. Meat, after all, is murder.But most importantly, I put my attention on the state of my heart. I had noidea how Morrissey himself did it. He didn’t talk about it in his autobiography.It wasn’t a question that came up in interviews–How do you fill a theater, anauditorium, a stadium with your heart, Morrissey? What’s your technique?But something that he did say in one interview stuck with me. He was askedsomething about how he put his act together, or something along thoselines and he interrupted and said something like, It’s not an act, I’m notplaying a character. It’s genuine. It’s not a performance. It’s real.My mandate was clear then, to connect authentically with what was real inmy heart, and find some way to express it in Morrissey song and gesture. Ipracticed at home, consciously checking in with my authentic feelings as Isang each phrase, and then taking those feelings and trying to put them outinto some kind of movement of a hand, a limb, a turn of the head.This was very hard for me. I wasn’t a naturally expressive variety of Four likeMorrissey was. He was a Social Four–an unlikely label, for sure, given thefact that he was the poster child for painful shyness. Nevertheless, he wasthe kind of Four who was comfortable in a space of having others witnesshis feelings. Putting his pain out into the world in his music, finding attractiveand authentic ways to express his distress were strong motivators for him.I, on the other hand, was a Self-Preservation Four. I was much morebuttoned-down and stoic in my presentation, heavily invested in being seenas a good girl who didn’t complain. All of this expression stuff felt quiteawkward and over-the-top for me. When I looked in the mirror as I attemptedit, I saw a performance that was very disjointed and nutty, nothing thatanyone would want to see. But there was a long road between January andJune. Plenty of time to practice.And in the meantime, something extraordinarily wonderful happened.Morrissey announced a North American tour. Nora and I went a little bitnuts, which was exactly as it should be. We ended up with tickets to seven
shows, starting in LA in May, and ending up in Brooklyn—Morrissey wascoming to New York!—just a week before the Morrissey Project gig at theend of June. It was so perfect, it could hardly be believed.The LA Sports Arena show wasn’t just my first Morrissey show, it was myfirst arena show ever. I truly had no idea what to expect. Would I be overwhelmed?Disappointed? Nora and I got on line at 3pm—there were about300 people ahead of us—and when the doors opened and we got inside,we ended up quite close to the front, with about five rows of people standingbetween us and the stage, we were on the Boz side, stage right.Waiting was quite entertaining. There were three fistfights in our immediatevicinity. Opening acts Kristeen Young and Tom Jones were fun. Especially TomJones as his music had been such a feature of my childhood. But we weren’there to stroll down memory lane with Tom Jones. We were here for Morrissey.And yet held in the forcefield of Moz’s heart, somehow, somehow,because he was singing, it was okay. He didn’t take away the pain, oh no,that would be a lie. This experience wasn’t about changing anything. It wasn’tabout new insights, a fresh approach to try to make things work out okay.It was simply a profound acceptance of what was. A space in the heart sobig, it could take anything. Morrissey singing singing, his voice exquisitelybeautiful above us. Things may be so bad we want to die, his voice seemedto be saying with every breath. We may be so tired of this life, we may wantto go to sleep and never wake up again. And yet still we live. And yet thereis incredible beauty. Even now, in the final hour of my life, I’m falling in loveagain.When the curtain dropped and he appeared on stage, it was like a giantelectric switch got flipped ON and the whole arena was plugged right intothe depth of Moz’s heart. What a place to be! It felt so pure and natural, therewere no tricks, no techniques he was working on us. This was happeningsimply because he was singing to us—singing from a place of superhuman,impeccable, 100% connection to his heart.And in that place, I could see that each one of us was being—not transported,we weren’t being taken out of anything—rather we were being held in an incrediblypowerful acceptance of everything that we were, our complete uniqueness.I can’t speak for anyone else’s journey with Moz during that concert, all Ican say is that mine involved a lot of crying. The tears began during I HaveForgiven Jesus and turned to full-on weeping and sobbing during Life Is aPigsty. (If you don’t know this, then what do you know?) My year had beenfull of death, disappointment, hopes dashed. In this space of Morrissey’sclear heart, I could see myself, I could see my personality, all the things itdid, all the ways it tried to steer things towards a happy ending. But therewas no happy ending. There was just more of the same. All the scramblingwas just me shifting gears, getting nowhere.It was a very painful thing to see.It was a life-changing experience. And I got to have it twice more, a weeklater in Denver, and two weeks after that in Miami. Both times I went intovery dark places in my personality. Both times I emerged knowing that itcould be borne. And in Miami, there was even more. He ended the showwith a jubilant version of First of the Gang, and I watched this man, this Four,plugged into his band, performing this song with such wild joy.This is true too, I realized. Life isn’t only about pain. There is joy too, no matterhow deep the pain gets. If we don’t get swept away, if we get our legsunder us and find a way to make music, there’s always something in life tosing about. Always some pretty petty thief who needs celebrating.
And then, disappointment. The rest of the tour was canceled becauseMorrissey was sick. I was very concerned about him, and glad to hear thathe was recovering. And truth be told, my disappointment didn’t run that deep.I had gotten so much out of the three shows I’d seen. I was so grateful.Really, what more could I ask for? My heart was full.And so I focused my energy and attention on the approaching MorrisseyProject gig. In a way, having seen the epic power of Morrissey’s performance,it felt ridiculous for me to stand up on stage to try to emulate it.What? Was I going to learn to channel the infinite power of the heart in fourshort weeks? Obviously not.So why bother?Because there was something really special about Morrissey’s music. Hisexpression of his heart was so pure, each tiny fragment of everything hecreated conveyed the wholeness of his heart, like a fractal or a hologram.Even if I got up on stage and sang his songs poorly, they were still hissongs, they couldn’t help being signposts that pointed to his heart. Sowhatever I ended up doing, it would bring some Morrissey into the room,and that couldn’t be a bad thing.But as the days slid by and four weeks turned into three, I began to wonderwhat kind of embarassing amateur night this show might turn out to be. Theband weren’t the problem, they were perfect. Yes, all of them were amateurmusicians just like me, but they had taken on the challenge of learning thesequite complex songs with great skill and gusto. They were doing a fantasticjob. I had no worries about them.No, the problem was me.I had gotten into the habit of videoing myself whenever I practiced, so that Icould track my progress and see what, if anything, was working. And I wasmaking progress on a lot of fronts. My singing sounded okay, I really did havea grip on these songs and was executing them quite well. And my hoursand hours of YouTube study had paid off, my vocabulary of movementsand gestures did look a lot like Morrissey’s.
But watching the videos, the overall effect was a kind of painful terrible lackof flow. I essentially looked like someone who was trying very hard to imitateMorrissey rather than someone who was expressing something authenticallyfrom the heart.Eeek. This didn’t look good.The core of the problem was a real disjointedness in the way my body waspresenting. I looked like a poorly-put-together puppet on a string. A handmoved here, a head turned there, but there didn’t seem to be a coherencebehind the movements, uniting them into a whole. A big problem too, was areally obvious divide in the way that the top half and the bottom half of mybody moved. This was something I frequently experienced on the inside, akind of cut-off in the flow of energy in my body around my solar plexus, butI’d had no idea that it was so visible to outside observers.This really needed fixing. But how? I had been working for months on takingthe authentic feelings in my heart and expressing them in my movements.Why wasn’t that enough? If I didn’t watch the videos, I felt like I was movingauthentically from the heart. But it clearly wasn’t making its way into the realworld in a way that was visible in my actual body. What to do?The answer was in that encore in Miami. And it was quite obvious.Morrissey was a Four. He was a Four who had done exactly what Fourswere supposed to do if they were going to thrive. He had gotten into hisbody. He had gotten grounded. He had found a way into expressing himselfin a real and visceral way using his head, torso and limbs.The Enneagram teaches that the path of growth for a Four has to involvethat kind of connection to real, embodied expression. It is very tempting for aFour to stay in the emotional world, to spend a lot of time daydreaming andthinking, rather than engaging in actual activities that need physical action.I realized that I had neglected that step in my practice. I had focused toomuch on the heart, assuming that the body would somehow follow theheart’s lead. But now with less than three weeks to go, I saw that I wasgoing to have to revamp my practice routine.
I wasn’t even sure what I was going to change, or what would work. I turnedup at practice with the band and set up my video camera and for the firstfew songs just did what I usually did, singing the songs, focusing on myheart, expressing myself with Morrissey gestures.Then I tried something new. The second time we practiced Drive-In Saturday,I did all of the above, while also adding in another layer to add to myawareness. As I sang, I placed my attention on the sensation of my body,starting in my neck, and moving down my chest and belly and coming backup again. My goal was to experience my torso as a complete whole, not twodisjointed pieces sawed off in the middle.It was an incredibly hard exercise to carry out while singing and doingMorrissey motions at the same time. I didn’t fumble my lyrics, but I keptforgetting to move, there was so much of my attention tied up in trying toexperience my inner sensation.When I got home and watched the videos that night, I got very excited. Thefirst take of Drive-In Saturday was the usual poorly-put-together puppet. Lotsof fun gestures, a really good try, but just not Morrissey. And the second?Well here was something completely different. The gestures were muchmore sparse, the singing wasn’t anything special, but there was somethingmuch more compelling about this take, something really worth watching.Was it wishful thinking? I showed the two videos to Nora without explaininganything, just asking her which version seemed better to her.“Oh this is good!” she said when she saw the second version. “Whateveryou’re doing there, keep it up!”So I did. I expanded the focus of my attention, bringing in legs and arms,hands and feet. I spent a lot of time working on my neck and head, bringingthem into the loop. It really worked. As long as I was willing to hold lyrics,melody, gesture, the state of my heart, and the sensation of my body in myconsciousness all at once, I was golden.Every practice I did from then on, I treated it like it was a real performance.I showed up fully every single time I sang each song. And when the day of
the show dawned, I knew that tonight wasn’t going to be any different, I wasgoing to have to treat it like any other practice.But as I waited around the bar, watching my bandmates set everything upon stage, a strange fear gripped me. Who did I think I was? Morrissey? Did Ireally think that dressing up like him would turn me into a Social Four? I wasstill Self-Pres me on the inside. How could I expect a roomful of strangersto give a damn about what my heart wanted to express? I got up on stageand surveyed the room. I ran through the lyrics of our opening song HeavenKnows I’m Miserable Now under my breath. But I fled the stage in panicwhen I realized that I had forgotten the words to the second verse.Oh no. I pawed frantically through my lyric sheets, but knew that it washopeless. I had painted myself into a corner with my weird practicemethods. These songs weren’t sitting in my head, and I couldn’t quicklyshove them in there now. These songs were in my heart, in my body, in thesynergy and connection between all of the different parts of me that neededto work in harmony to create a coherent whole.I literally had no choice. If I wanted to sing these songs at all, I couldn’t hide.I had to show up fully and completely in my practice, head, heart, body, sensation,fear, everything. Nothing could be left out.It was a really miserable sound check.The opening act was lovely, but I couldn’t enjoy a note of it. When they weredone, the moment of truth finally arrived. I got up on stage, the openingbars of the music sounded, and the first words our of my mouth were, I washappy in the haze of a drunken hour/But heaven knows I’m miserable now.God, it was so true! How easy it was to sing it authentically from my heart!Up there on stage, a space created by Morrissey’s music—how could I havedoubted it—there was more than ample room for everything I was feeling.The songs so easily held all of my misery and fear and made music of it. Mydoubts about exposing my heart in public were just part of the reality of theheart that I was exposing. And when I got to songs like Sing Your Life andHow Soon Is Now, it was startlingly wonderful how the lyrics still revealednew depths of meaning and instruction.
My experience of the show was a coherence and unity that didn’t stop at theedge of the stage. All was here, all could be expressed, all could be held,there was nothing that needed to be left out. The experience took in thewhole room, the whole night, the whole of everything I had put into this, thewhole of me.The audience loved it. Especially Nora. She shared a Smiths-themedbirthday cake with her friends, she threw gladioli at me from the audience,and during my encore, she did a solo stage invasion where she came upand kissed the back of my neck (it was going to be a group invasion, but herfriends chickened out at the last second.)Thinking about it later, I wondered how much of a success the show hadbeen in objective terms. Yes, it had been an awesome musical performance.Yes, it had been tons of fun. Yes, I’d had an amazing personal growthexperience.But the big question was, Had I done what I’d set out to do? Had I managedto become Morrissey? Even in a tiny way?The answer to that question was rather funny. Morrissey was such agorgeous Four, such a complete ambassador of the uniqueness of the heart.So radically did he grant permission to be oneself, I found it impossibleto follow in his footsteps and end up as him. Yes, I sang his songs, yes, Idressed up as him, yes I had the quiff, I even clutched my heart as I sanghis beautiful words.But there was only one person that I could end up being if I followed the trueheart of Morrissey’s message.And that was myself.And I think that counts as a pretty big success.
To watch highlights of the Morrissey Project show visit:http://youtu.be/W8J6ogJUQZA?list=PLVf2zChsjipYzy4SdjXMX6JN64GvMshvhTo learn more about me and the Enneagram teaching services Ioffer visit:http://infiniteandtransitory.comTo learn more about Kelly Kingman who created the awesomecollages in this book visit:http://kingmanink.comStay tuned, my new memoir Sex, The Enneagram and Rock’n’Rollis scheduled for release early in 2015.Sign up at http://infiniteandtransitory.com for the latest updates!