LEAVING YOURSELF BEHIND

You don’t have to watch it now, but when you have time — and you’re sure no one can hear you laugh like an hyena — go look at the Total Eclipse of the Heart Literal video. Be aware that it’s way more contagious than the original version, though theoretically there is nothing going on but describing what is going on in the video.

For years, my sons and I used to sing this together at the drop of a hat, or even when all hats were securely undropped. I still can make my kids complete the thought when I say “Get out of my way, I gotta pee.”

Anyway, today this is in my head (as silly as that is) because of the lines “leaning on myself because there’s two of me here.”

Except these days I feel like there’s a whole congregation of me in my head, and we’re all overthinking everything, which is why it took me this long to get this post up. You see, I was debating what the heck to write about. And there were so many of me, in my head, and some of them voted twice, because they have differing opinions.

Stop reaching for the phone. I don’t need the I love me jacket. This doesn’t rise to the level of multiple personalities, or even severe delusions.

It’s just that I start the morning by debating the possibilities of waking up, and whether it’s desirable to go on sleeping. And then…. it goes on like that.

It seems this is inheritable, and I’m actually — probably — the most decisive in my family. Other people have been known to stand in front of us and screaming “analysis paralysis damn it.”

The problem though is that all of these people are still me. All depending on the same senses for information, all living in this same space behind my eyes.

If you think about it long enough, the idea of the religions that say bliss is found in leaving yourself behind isn’t exactly wrong. It might be impossible, but it’s not wrong.

You see, we’re all mostly story. At this moment, sitting right here, who are you? A bundle of perceptions and impulses, and dear Lord, do we need coffee, or perhaps cyanide.

The whole point being that we are one, and yet we aren’t. We change so often throughout life. As we’re now looking at houses (the other one having turned out to have issues) it becomes…. painful to contemplate each house and how it would change me and us.

Most of our married life we’ve lived in urban or semi-urban environments, where you walk around the corner and there’s a grocery store, or a bookstore, or a coffee shop to sit at and contemplate life.

Having come to a suburb last time we moved was odd, and took a lot of thought. You see, I so hated the suburbs when we lived there in the late eighties. Not because of the sameness of the houses, or whatever (though my ADD mind needs variety) but because there was nowhere to go and nothing to do, and so I didn’t. I more or less defaulted to being locked in the home all the time, surrounded by empty houses.

I thought it would be different this time. For one I no longer go to bookstores, so what difference does it make? For another, because our neighbors also work from home.

It is in fact exactly the same. People lock themselves in their houses. When I walk around, other than taking an unnatural interest int he neighbors’ gardens, there’s really nothing to do and nowhere to to, so I don’t. Unless I have someone to drag me for walks, I pretty much live under house arrest, which is very bad for me psychologically.

Looking at houses, seeing what’s near, there’s so many mes I could become, so many paths my life could take that the future mes intrude and argue.

And yet, in the end, you know it’s all still me. Yes, there is a change, but the change is in the range of who I am and what I do and can do. Again, all of it is circumscribed within the confines of my nervous system.

Like, I’m not very coordinated, so going out and playing a rousing game of tennis, or even bicycling are not a thing. Or I’m ADD AF and though medicated I can approximate a normal human being, I don’t know if that’s how normal human beings feel. I can’t. And oh, yeah I am stunningly non-visual and can’t understand people who remember pictures in detail, or understand little drawings explaining how to put a machine together. In the same way, I can’t imagine not having stories in my head, or characters that just show up and start gabbing a hundred words a minute.

I am me, caught in my own brain, existing the space behind the eyes.

The characters I write might or might not be me. They don’t present to myself as me, but what would I know, I’ve never been anyone else.

Except… in books. Books are my only way of looking inside other people’s heads. Of figuring out what goes on in the space behind the ears.

We are all mostly narrative. Remembering who we were, recreating who we will be. (Because the one thing we can’t be is static.) Other stories are the only way to change and see and be beyond our limitations.

This is why “we must each write only people exactly like us and read people exactly like us” is evil.

Ultimately it robs us of the ability to escape a conclave of who we are; it robs us of possibilities. Of knowing who and what else we could be.

And of plotting our escape, and leaning on someone else… Because there’s maybe a few of us in the head.

But the possibilities outside it are endless.

18 comments

  1. The exact neighborhood can make a huge difference.
    We’ve been living in a small complex (20 houses) with one street in, so there’s little traffic – and there’s a lot of kids. So the kids (ages about 5 to 15) come out and play in the street and common areas with very little adult supervision – this has been VERY good for my son. One block away, nope, doesn’t happen.

    My wife worships the idea of paying the bank for a house (theoretically good, not so good when buying an equivalent house would cost 2-2.5x the cost of renting); the reality is that if we had a bought the townhouse or condos she regrets us not buying (leaving alone the fact that it would’ve been unaffordable back then too) in the past, our life would have been very different. I think she’d find something else to worry about (or want a bigger house or …. – she’s like the fisherman’s wife), but my son wouldn’t have had this unusual semi-free range play experience, she would have met different friends (she met some of her closest friends from living in this neighborhood), we’d spend a lot more time driving, the kids would have been in different schools, etc.

  2. A dog can make a difference if you like dogs. Walking the neighborhood several times a day is good for the dog, good for you, makes sure everyone recognizes you on sight, makes sure (even better!) everyone knows your household owns a dog, and at the same time, a dog lets you explore without unfriendly comment.

    No one ever notices you ambling up and down the alleys, checking out the neighbors’ gardens and toolsheds and counting electrical boxes to work out how many ADU’s are in that neighborhood. You’re walking your dog and that makes you completely acceptable.

    As for reading; well, it’s the taste of someone else’s thoughts and the closest we’ll ever come to telepathy.

      1. I cannot help myself, but I have JUST the book for you. Really. Five minutes scattered throughout the day. And the right dog (not a sight hound, though you are probably stubborn enough to make it work) is *excellent* for walks. They get off on “Me and the Alpha Bitch are on patrol, ooohrah!”

        They’re total babe magnets, and by that I mean chilluns, which gets the moms andvthen the dads, and hey presto! You’re talking up the neighbors.

      2. There is a HUGE variation in dogs. The breed matters but so does the individual dog.
        Fido, our border collie, was high energy but he lived to please. If you were willing to put in the time, he was thrilled to learn the rules and obey.
        Muffy, our German shepherd/terrier mix was all terrier and she had no interest in listening to us at all.
        The key for you is consistency so you don’t confuse the dog and damnation but that was hard for me and the entire family.

        A good obedience course is largely dog-owner training and not merely dog training.

        1. Mrs. TRX watches a Russian Youtube channel called ‘I Am Puma”, by a Russian couple who keep an American mountain lion as a house pet. They took the cat through dog obedience school, there being a shortage of puma obedience schools… he will sit up, roll over, and obey the usual dog commands. The cat weighs over a hundred pounds now, so obedience is a good thing… they have a couple of videos where they took him to compete in dog shows, Russians apparently having a flexible definition of “dog”, or perhaps not wanting to disappoint the bundle of teeth and claws…

    1. Where I live the dog won’t even walk all the way over to the neighbors. Only one house even close enough to wave at. Which is AWESOME. ~:D Having my own mountain would be better, but this will do.

  3. Glad to see another fan of the literal lyrics version of Total Eclipse of the Heart. I can’t watch that video without laughing. As for the rest, my problem is often wanting to escape myself* and books help me do that.

    *It’s the down side of “Wherever you go, there you are”.

  4. Look up “Google Translate Sings” that song as well. It’s exactly what it sounds like, and may possibly make more sense than the original. (plus, the woman who sings it is a surprisingly talented comedian.)

        1. I still think it’s cool that the old people neighbors down the street cleaned up the weeds from their newly purchased house’s driveway with… a flamethrower.

          Okay, it was a teensy tiny flamethrower. But still.

  5. I’ve been having similar thoughts about my move. We’ve been here for 20 years, having 1st and 3rd Saturday parties every month. That’s about 500 parties. The new place doesn’t have that sort of entertaining space(*) – by design. That is definitely going to change “me”. We’ll just have to wait and see exactly how.

    (*) About 50 people showed up at the 3rd Saturday finale; about 35 at any one time. We easily fit in the party space without overflowing into the living space. I don’t think 30 people would fit shoulder-to-shoulder in the entire new place.

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