I’ve probably said it before but it’s amazing how the single universal thread in everything I hate right now is the Choose Your Own Reality crowd pissing around after a childhood (and much of a life, really) where Imagination was a dirty word. The same people who frowned at comic books or called Dungeons & Dragons the stuff of devil worship have spent the last ten years on another planet where email forwards and talk radio nutters are all the proof you need of a world of secret Muslims and Martian pedophile rings and crisis actors and false flags. At least I had the decency to know my imagination wasn’t real, which is more than you can say for the yokels I left behind.
My whole life, I am sensitive to the world. I take in everything, process everything, try to solve everything. I’ve always had to face the possibility of being overwhelmed by the inputs, made worse by those problems I couldn’t solve but wasn’t allowed to acknowledge I couldn’t figure out. Social life, from second grade to grad school. My relationships in college. The handful of enemy users at NGS. Anything that I couldn’t deduce my way out of just became a burden I wasn’t allowed to refuse to carry.
I can’t turn it off, and my whole life, the only alternative has been to diminish the inputs by hiding, shutting out the world, getting rid of anything I have to solve or deal with. I can aid this chemically, a little, but it’s not sufficient; neither five Guinness nor six months of Wellbutrin helps. Maybe a little bit of antidepressant, or one pint, might be enough to derail the train momentarily – but I have to be free from any other inputs. And then I need safe input – the right books, the right music, the right conversation, the right people. And if I played my cards right, that’s enough to muffle the noise. Making the best use of the downtime, that’s something else again. Refusing to answer the trick questions – and letting go of them – is the thing I have only recently begun to learn and still struggle with, and the old impulse to just hide is still dominant. Especially if I can find some way of distracting myself while hidden – at which point I’m safe, until I have to come out of the hole again.
So that’s why I have to uncouple from the emotionally damaging things. Politics. Relatives. Sports that carry emotional involvement. I need the worst sort of easy listening music, Muzak or yacht rock or whatever. Or maybe even Gaelic-language radio that I can’t even understand, just as background noise. I need the gentle low-stakes television of Escape to the Country or a hundred sixty-two games of baseball or video from the cab of a train going from Carlisle to Newcastle. I need one imperial pint of a mild 4.0% ABV nitro summer porter that I can take an hour and a half to slowly sip my way through. I need a long bus ride in the morning under a leaden overcast sky, or hours on end on a train bound for – if not nowhere, then nowhere stressful, with a Kindle in one hand and a head on my shoulder. I need to open my eyes in the morning and have nothing that compels me to get out of a warm and cozy bed, least of all sunlight pounding through the windowpanes.
What I want, as it turns out, is a dull moment. And another one. And another one, in a string as far as the eye can see.