Tuesday, March 14, 2017

My Weirdness Cell

Every so often, I become detached from reality. Some of you are probably thinking, "Well, that explains a lot!" Luckily, these detachments don't last long, and require no therapy or chemical intercession to remedy. Eventually it goes away and all is back to normal. It has been this way for as long as I can remember. How to describe the sensation?

It's as if I separate from myself and float up to the ceiling, and watch my life being lived down below, trying to figure out which view is correct. Sounds more serious than it actually is. It's more like a short period of acute awareness of normally unseen or unnoticed things. Suddenly, it's as if each day to day thing that I never ordinarily notice becomes the singular focus of my attention. The squeaking door, the ticking clock, that troublesome tag hanging from the bottom of the recliner, the strange way that dead leaves gather in the narrow, bricked gap by the front steps. After several days of this hyper attentive focus, life blends back into clarity, as if nothing ever happened.

During these days, I always feel like writing, but I can never begin. Where to start? How to explain? Nothing can compete with it, this temporal, third person existence. It always eventually sends me scurrying for the great old writers. I dust off something by CS Lewis or GK Chesterton. It helps to read something deep and wise, the Proverbs, Shakespeare. Luckily for me and those who depend on me, these episodes are infrequent and of short, spasmodic duration and serve as nothing more than a fresh way to look at the world for a day or so. No harm, no foul.

I have often wondered what the trigger mechanism might be. Hearing a particular song? Eating Pam's incredibly delicious meatloaf? Or maybe there's a random weirdness cell flowing through my bloodstream that occasionally stalls on his route through my brain, and until he shakes free and flows through, my perception gets heightened. Whether or not such a thing is biologically possible is another story, of course, but it's as good an explanation as any at the moment.

Here's a great example of how it works. The other day I was driving in South Carolina and happened upon a freshly disked field covered by probably 500 seagulls. This field was at least 40 miles from the ocean, but there they all were busy pecking the muddy soil with their hooked beaks unaware how far they were from home. For the next hour I thought of nothing but their flapping wings and muddy talons. I couldn't shake the image of a field of seagulls until I was nearly at Fayetteville. You try thinking of nothing but seagulls for over an hour. It's not as easy as I make it sound!

Not to worry, this latest episode has passed and now another won't come for six months or so. I'm back to the relentless clarity of reality, the big picture firmly in front of me, all the minutia back where it belongs...in the background.