Escape

One of the things that always seems to be true about September, but which I don’t ever remember until it happens, is that it goes by incredibly fast.  Here we are, almost halfway through, and it feels like it’s just begun.  Fall tends to do this — after August’s dreary lull, the schedule quickly fills in when September comes around.  This year is going to be even busier than most, many of my weekends are already booked through the next couple of months.  It’s all fun stuff, but this homebody’s head is going to be spinning.

This weekend I didn’t have any plans, and I decided I’d take advantage of the opportunity to relax and store up some energy.  I pottered around today, I got a few easy and needful errands done, cleared up some piles of clutter, did some spinning and TV-watching.  But for much of the day, I didn’t really feel relaxed.  Not that I could have told you that mid-day, I thought things were pretty much going as planned.  But there are little signs that crop up when I’m not completely settled, and eventually I had to admit they have been cropping up today.

After spending an hour skimming a book, looking up a quotation that I thought I was going to write about this evening (maybe another time), I pulled out the makings of supper and got to work.  Midway through chopping vegetables, I finally put down the knife to ask myself, what’s wrong here?  Why am I feeling kind of nervous, sitting here over a pile of carrots?

One thing I have been learning, through this year of hard ups and downs and unexpected turns, is that if I’m feeling weird, there’s something driving it, whether or not I realize it.  The hard downs come when I don’t take notice and deal with whatever it is, which is hard sometimes to do — I can be really disconnected from my emotional state-of-being, especially when I’ve got lots of mental stuff to distract myself with.  This time around, though, I realized it’s the mental stuff that is beginning to be the problem.

It’s been a really nice week, in a lot of respects, with the weather turning and some nice things happening, and I have felt mainly relaxed and happy about it all, which is sadly not really typical for me.  It’s a great sign of progress, I think, that I managed not to spoil it by Tuesday afternoon, by being overly hard on myself about something dumb.  But along the way, in a manner that I don’t really know how to explain, I started living more and more inside my head.

To say that I have a vivid imagination is a fairly dramatic understatement. I’ve always had a strong imagination, and a strong draw to stories, and both of these facts put together means I live with a vibrant, enormous set of worlds and stories in my head, full of characters that have caught my attention over the years, some of them born out of other people’s ideas and stories, some of them my own inventions, a few of them a great deal like myself (except, you know, better), and all of them doing interesting things all the time, whenever I go and visit them.

I’m pretty sure that some people will read this and say “yes, me too!” and some will say “huh?” and others may say “wow, you’re weird,” but so it is.  Some threads of story and setting and people have been kicking around inside my imagination for a very long time indeed.  There have been times in my life when being able to imagine myself away from reality was a badly-needed defensive tactic, against situations that I just couldn’t emotionally deal with.  I don’t know if it was ideal, but it was what I had.  And some of those habits of escaping reality by retreating into a more friendly, interesting, and controllable world of the mind have hung on for a long time.

A wise friend said to me this morning, in a completely different context, that I am perhaps prone to over-thinking when I should be living.  That came back to me this evening, sitting with my pile of carrots, wondering why I was feeling nervous.  Because I realized I’ve been, not over-thinking, but over-imagining — drifting away from the real world, drifting into my imaginative realms, having conversations with people who don’t see with real eyes or walk with real feet, and who can’t offer real friendship or support.  There’s a kind of temporary emotional counterfeit possible, living with imaginary friends, but underneath there isn’t any root, just a hollow place.  I think my unsettledness came from drifting too near the hollowness, from disengaging too much from my own world — even as I was walking around in it, walking on my own real feet, I was not experiencing the real ground underneath them.  I was not seeing the sunlight or tasting the air, while my mind chattered with people less substantial than either.

I thought about this for a while, and then resumed the real thing I had started doing while not paying attention, making soup.  Carrots, celery, potatoes and green onions chopped and cooked in ham broth, some wee orzo pasta added, pre-cooked ham diced and pitched in at the end, seasoned simply with salt and pepper — it came out really well, which makes this un-seasoned cook very happy.  I haven’t made a good ham soup before, not one that I really liked a lot, and today’s attempt is a success.  It is furthermore a real thing, a reconnection to the reality outside myself, and it eased my belly and my heart.  It’s a reminder that I have been given a real world to live in, a world where I can walk on my own feet, see with my own eyes, and find adventure that I get to experience for myself.  It is not a controllable world, but it is a very interesting one.  And the friends I have out in it are far better than any I have thought up for myself, because their words and support are real, they have roots.  They are helping me become a character that’s, in many respects, a great deal like myself.  Except, you know, better.

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2 comments so far

  1. enallagma9 on

    I have found that if I don’t have enough connections with real people, I go a little crazy. Work friends don’t really count. Spending time with people is best, but even Rav/emailing/blogging helps. You may be an introvert, but you may also need quiet company to keep you on an even keel.

  2. Barbara on

    Thought provoking post. You can write things so clearly. It makes me realize how muddled my mind gets and that I can’t coherently say or write what I want.


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