Do you ever — have you ever — felt like an alien in this world?
I have and I’m guessing you have, too. I first became consciously aware of my alienness when I was around 11, though it was unconsciously there the first times my kindergarten teacher tried to force me into “social” games that left me like a deer in the headlights. It was there in the way my parents treated my brother and me as if we’d been left on their doorstep by a particularly bizarre band of gypsies. (Brother and I were very different critters, but we were both unconventional loners and deep thinkers, unlike my uber-social, join-everything, voted-most-popular, shallow-as-a-mud-puddle older sister.)
By the time I was in high school, I’d invented an elaborate mythology to explain how I could look so human while being so apart from my supposed peers. I was sent here as an alien spy; the physical transfer succeeded but something went badly wrong when it came to transmitting my mind across space.
In the adult world — where there are so many more options, where it’s forgivable not to be just like everybody else, and where now there’s a whole Internet! — I’ve seldom been bothered by that terrible sense of being something irreconcilably foreign to the “normal” world. Adults can find their own “normal.” Or live outside of “normal.”
Once in a while alien horror strikes out of the blue, though.
Don’t be put off by the word “knitting.” Even if you’re not crafty (and I’m not!), even if you’re a guy who’d rather build a brick wall or try for a perfect grouping with your best rifle than (heaven forbid) knit. This is about that process common to so many things.
You know how you sometimes open a book at random looking for guidance? For some it’s the bible. For somebody else, one of those Chicken Soup things. Could be Ayn Rand or Herman Hesse. But you hope if you just open and read there’ll be a message there, just waiting for you?
I have to laugh. I just picked up Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, not because I had real interest but because it’s one of those must-read books and this is a good time. I opened near the end to a chapter about self care and the art of just being still and listening.
Then I took my old copy of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience off the shelf and arbitrarily opened to a page that heralded the value of 16-hour workdays, but with the work so integrated with free time that you can barely distinguish one from the other.
Yup. And of the contradictory two, I must admit the latter appeals to me more than the former. Not, mind you, because I’m some virtuous workaholic. Far from it. I favor the latter because the former is harder.
So … how are y’all enjoying the deep freeze? Seems as if it’s settling in to stay, doesn’t it?
We’re just on the edge of it here in the North(currently not so)Wet — cozy compared with some of you. But it’s clear and cold and fiercely windy and I’m ready to stay indoors surrounded by space heaters.
Wonder if I could teach the dogs to use the toilet? Or just encourage them to go walk in the woods by themselves?
Though I’m still having not much darned luck with “listening to silence” (e.g. sitting meditation), this week has felt both blessedly serene and productive.
I’m working on something. Too early to talk about it; probably even mentioning it right now is hazardous to the creative process. Very likely it’ll come to nothing.
But if my brain must always be busy-busy-busy it’s a pleasure to have it busy on something potentially useful.
I don’t have tons of new or deep stuff to say right now. So here’s a nice time waster. Can you find the snipers (or hunters, if you prefer) in these pix?
And here’s a first. It’s so cold this morning that when all three critters in the household had a chance to get up on a cot in front of a nice, warm heat source, they jumped at the chance.
When I finally narrowed the search down far enough it turned out that the quote was actually from me. But only because my brain badly mangled and probably misinterpreted something actually said by Mark Twain.
Ah, the human mind. Such a wondrous instrument.
Nevertheless, the non-quote led me to something I blogged here back in 2011. It’s the fourth of a series on “the responsibilities of a resident of a police state” and it’s worth a re-visit.
Yep, omphaloskepsis. That’s a new word I got from jed. High-falutin’ way of saying “navel gazing.”
That’s what I’m supposed to be doing, starting Saturday and going through the end of the year. I’ve gotten several nice messages wishing me “Happy Hermitting.” I’ll be here for you if you need me. I’ll be thinking of you. I hope you find what you’re looking for. Many of the messages are tinged with envy — busy parents and full-time workers and people with a thousand other commitments wishing they, too, could have a retreat.