Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What do you think, when there's nothing to think about...

Years ago I used to listen to what my family called "Boo tapes."  It was a bunch of audio dramatizations about the scriptures where a talking dog and a tree house full of kids act out and reimagine different stories.  One song that touched me deeply was talking about what must have Moroni spent his time thinking about after everyone that he knew was dead.  It suggested there were many awesome wonders of the world to contemplate and asserted that what you think about when there's nothing to think about defined who you were.  I don't like short cuts to defining yourself or other people, but it is hard to figure out how to handle those times when the emptiness just seems to want to fill up everything.

I'm socially isolated enough and have been socially isolated for long enough that I simply don't handle feeling alone very well.  I get lonely feeling pretty quickly and depression can follow as well, making it difficult to function.  Sometimes things are better or worse at work but it has not been uncommon over the last few months that I've been unable to find a way to consistently interact with anyone that I know.  When I'm dealing with an unstable group of strangers you might say that the engines in my mind that deal with socializing more or less freeze up like a car with no oil in it.  It takes me a long time to be able to function with a group of people, even when I do know them.  When I get home from work its not necessarily much better.  My wife has trouble getting proper sleep with the kids waking up during the night or trying to wake up absurdly early in the morning.  So she's typically about ready to fall asleep somewhere between 8:30-9:30 PM.  I don't get off work till 10 PM and probably won't get home till 10:30ish.  When school is going full swing we see each other during the days mostly for meal times.  Since dishes are hard to do with little boys trying to help sometimes doing the dishes falls to me after I get home from work.  I need to find ways to relax, detox all that work stress, clean up any perishables that might have gotten left out, and make a dent in dishes.

That's a lot of time spent alone.

Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I watch movies, sometimes I listen to audiobooks.  To me, music can be a great way to do an emotional stretching exercise.  I can let the emotions of the music move me around and help get me unstuck from a negative mindset.  Movies are about social interactions between people.  If I'm having loneliness caused depression setting in watching people interact socially in a movie can be a painful reminder of the social skill sets that I don't have.  So I haven't done as many movies recently.  I only sometimes have a good audio book on hand and they are a life saver when I have them.

Mostly these days I have listened to podcasts.  I had decided that many ways in which I viewed the world were just fundamentally wrong and I started information binging to try to help myself sort the world back out again.  On some subjects there are many people who are more than willing to give you hours upon hours of time listening to them babble on about just about any subject you can imagine.  When trying to redefine how I understood the world made me feel alone in even more ways than normal those talking heads in my earphones were a life saver.  At least someone else understood the sorts of questions I was dealing with and I could listen in as they discussed all sorts of research and thinking on the subject that I simply didn't have the time to do.

I could still spend hours upon hours listening to those, but there is a problem.  I've come to a new more or less stable outlook on life.  I'm not driven as much now to answer every new question and examine every new angle on those subjects anymore.  This is good in many ways.  You can only spend so much time staring down the uncertainty of the world without it taking a severe toll on you.  But in the meantime, what do I do now for all those hours that I still am spending alone?  The podcasts no longer meet a deep need for me.  I'm typically too out of sorts to spend the time on homework.  Movies are fun, but I honestly can't enjoy watching them properly late at night like this.  It simply doesn't work.  I could just read books, but paper books are often so enthralling for me that if they were worth it from the stress management perspective I'll end up not being able to sleep because I won't be able to tear myself away from the story. 

I need a better way to not be alone when I'm alone. Unfortunately there is no easy out for an issue like this.  Life is boring sometimes.  When there is nothing to think about you still have to go on thinking.  It's just life.

1 comment:

sleepyhamster said...

I've had plenty of experience being lonely and having my thoughts consume me. I don't always want to interact with people and sometimes people and interactions with them can be immensely frustrating for me. Sometimes I withdraw myself from interacting but at the same time, I wish that I didn't have the problems with it that I have. I usually fill my mind with things like TV shows that I don't have to invest in. Something that I can have in the background and not truly have to think about. I have my boys here and that can help sometimes even if they aren't as loving as a dog or cats would be. But they still make me badly to come home to.
I'm sorry you feel that isolation. I know all too well how that feels.