Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Now here I go again, I see the crystal visions

When I lie awake in the middle of the night or early morning, I often feel like my brain is buzzing.  I can't turn it off.

I have a tendency (annoying as hell to many, I'm sure) to over analyze every little thing.  It could be something that someone said, and I will think about it and parse the sentence, or wonder at their word choice.

Why use this word as opposed to that word? What I think she actually meant was the other word...

Or I'll think about a conversation or an interaction, and pick it apart from a psychological perspective.

Why is her attitude toward me so quick to change? What's going on?

When my job involved litigating cases, I would write briefs in my head.

I'm obsessed with being able to remember things.  At one point, back in my early years living in Atlanta, I got it in my head to memorize, in alphabetical order, all 159 counties in the state of Georgia. During bouts of insomnia, I would recite to myself, "Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Baker, Baldwin ..."

 No reason except that I decided I wanted to do it, so I did. Seriously, what the fuck was that about?

Or I'll go through my life and try to remember the layout of every house in every country I've ever lived in, or the names of all the teachers I've ever had.  Phone numbers. Song lyrics.  Movie dialogue.

It's a little crazy, I know.  But at least it's a benign crazy.

Sometimes I play the time machine game.

If I could go back in time and step into my life at any particular point, where would I start?  Maybe I would go back to India, relive that happy time, and then, when applying to colleges, make a different choice.  I was accepted to the honors programs at both Michigan and Virginia, and I chose Virginia. What if I had chosen Michigan?  Who would my close friends be?  Would I have gone to a different law school, or not gone to law school at all?  Maybe I would have gone to medical school instead.  Where would I have worked after that? In which city? Doing what?  Who would I have dated or loved?

Maybe I would go back to Atlanta.  What if I had worked at a different firm?  What if I hadn't made a mess of the relationship that was so important to me?

What if I hadn't gone on the surf trip to Costa Rica, but had decided on a different vacation?

Or what if, in Costa Rica, I had let a fling be a fling and left it at that?  Instead of behaving completely out of character and pursuing something that had pretty much no chance of working out, and if I'm honest with myself, that a part of me knew that but I pursued it anyway.  Ignoring what I knew about myself and my needs and tendencies, disregarding my own judgment and character, living a life I knew was wrong for me.

Kind of like being in a mild version of a fugue state for 10 years, but without the amnesia.

Every little choice affects the path you end up on, in ways that seem imperceptible at the time.

As I I lie there in the dark, my ability to immerse myself in that alternate reality is powerful. Even fully awake, I'm so present in my imagination that it's almost like I'm in a particularly lucid dream, one of those that feels entirely real.

But of course, I know that I'm awake.  At the heart of it all, I am fundamentally a realist.  And after a few minutes, I roll over, look around my room, and bring myself back.  I think about the day to come, my schedule, my obligations, and I make a plan.


  1. I love this. It's the very act of going back in time in my head that keeps me awake. What if I'd done this instead. Or that? Or something else? Then the self-loathing rolls in right on time. I remind myself of what a shit I was and ponder asking forgiveness. Before I get to far afield in regret and guilt land, I plug in my earbuds and turn on an audiobook. Otherwise there would be no sleep.

    1. Interesting. The exercise doesn't bring up feelings of guilt - more like a longing for what might have been. But it can be a dangerous game, and I don't allow myself to play it for long.