Lying around listening to podcasts, casually browsing the web and flicking through Twitter.
It’s more hassle, more physically intrusive (even if just a little) to be sitting up than lying down. It’s more blaring in the conservatory than the bedrooms and the glare is so bright it seems an almost physical imposition.
I wonder how much of the preference for physical negation i.e. to free the mind and the imagination from the physical world is most easily done by being in a position that’s the most unintrusive. (is unintrusive a euphemism for comfortable?) comes from the opiate experience. Especially non-Euphoric fentanyl where what you get that matters is a complete absence of any pain, twinge, discomfort, hot, cold, strain, etc. Zero physical drag. This initially gives euphoria, can cause drowsiness, lets the brain blue-sky think and riff in the imagination.
So getting clean, there seems to be a dissatisfaction in sitting up, i.e. during periods not occupied with work or activity, why not be in that physical negation state – why not be where it’s most comfortable? For me that’s where it isn’t too brightly lit (darker the better) and lying in bed engenders zero physical drag.
More problems that aren’t solving themselves:
Working isn’t interesting, objectively, but reflection has become a natural habit. Getting engrossed in the OCD of a task is staccato, always breaks the trance with an “is this actually enjoyable, is this actually interesting?”.
It takes discipline therefore to do the simplest of productive tasks and even if the task gets done, it’s remembered as a chore never a pleasure.
Having seen how chemical are emotions and how easily they can be manipulated, it’s hard to get attached to the detail of everyday life. It’s like an unwanted Zen state which if ever achieved would disconnect one from the present at will, or be present only as an option; which makes it matter less.
What else… No expertise, no community, nothing to monkey see monkey do? It’s possible to think one’s way into a short-lived interest in some creative act, or course of learning. This suffers from the same fundamental “connection is optional” which makes it less interesting, the outcome one builds towards less objectively engaging. Consistency matters for creativity and when trying to learn to the point of expertise. Indecision is corrosive. Lack of persistent ambition drains a specific goal of need.
No community is another problem. The same core reasons the detail of everyday life is less important also apply to one’s motivation to interact with friends (it’s less affecting, in a less controlled environment than staying home). Thus one’s less committed to everyday socialising. Ironically, it doesn’t mean one cares about people less and if a friend was in need, one would be more committed to helping – it being both a much-wanted purpose and there being less conflict with selfish ‘would rather do this because it matters so much to me’. But less time with friends every day means distance grows; and that doesn’t really seem to matter.
The disinterest in details and lack of ambition plays out as a dearth of stamina for new environs, i.e. places one might meet others with similar interests and/or interact with unfamiliar people who might become acquaintances, workmates, friends. So isolation seems to happen slowly but steadily, and the normal reactions that might spur one to act to reverse this trend don’t happen, don’t really matter. Even now as I write this, I am in a zero physical drag state, I’m comfortable and I feel very little thinking about drifting apart from friends and never meeting tiring new people.
I can cite other definitive reasons for this disinterest in friends old and new. Try these:
Nobody I know is doing anything cool, it’s all duty or habit or satisfied by stuff like parenthood which is fine but it’s a version of a junkie, albeit to natural chemicals, an admission of one’s own obsolescence as a creative original force – bringing up the children eclipses all else, and well it should – but if the answer to “what have you been doing?” (which means “tell me about cool unfamiliar things I should know about”) is always nothing or a litany of banal kid struggles… there’s very little to recommend continued regular contact. It’s not about liking the person less, it’s a distinct path – without shared experience or any appeal.
The few people I’ve known who may well have been doing something interesting or might have thought something new and apposite, they’re all dead. This not only means nothing further coming from these people but, with loved ones, it’s an object lesson in how ephemeral life is, how arbitrary is our impact on one another, how unsafe a receptacle of shared care, hope, confidences we all are. Yet care matters because, without care, the interpersonal doesn’t really have any allure; save as cold, calculating ambition, which seems a bleak unfulfilling modus operandi.
And then I used to believe it was possible to chase down an objective potential, to influence each other (for the good, ideally) that might strengthen our individual narratives – that might make a difference. If someone advises me “check this out” then that’s what I’ll do. And many a thrilling discovery years ago ensued. If someone makes an argument that advances insight and understanding or makes connections I’d not considered before, then by the end of the conversation I’ve gained; and this develops my thinking thereafter. I used to think this worked both ways and thought people agreeing – then taking advice – proved it. I’ve since been disabused of that error.
Truth seems to have been that another person’s agreement was a necessity, if no counterpoint or contrary argument could be made, so the interplay was worth it to both of us. I’d have tested and shared my insight, reasons, understanding. The other person had updated their thinking to incorporate what I’d shared and any agreement or acting on advice came from them having assessed and concluded themselves, independent of me (I’m carrier, not originator, shared is shared anyway, doesn’t matter who said it first). In reality though, agreement was more akin to acquiescence, a shortcut to conclusion (that might be parroted later but was as flimsy as any inherited dogma). Acting on advice wasn’t Independent but if it happened, it was more often another shortcut, this time via blind faith. Small wonder there’s can be “blame” for the person giving advice even if it’s fully explained. Blame is anger at an apparently broken faith.
So it becomes disheartening and not worth engaging in discussion or proffering advice with any heart. Final nail in the coffin and sad test of the above is the inevitable natural progression of the person who agreed or just went blind faith, over time and greater familiarity with the forms of life, tighter constraints of lifestyle, ossification of habits into actual opinions, to becoming less and less attentive, to listening less, to small-talk and cliché responses made more by good manners than actual thought. Once this happens, we can challenge it in conversation, petulantly; easily done as only one person is paying attention. The challenge exposes the inattention but breaks the social contract expected between small-talkers. It brings emotions unexpected to the surface, reflex angers, resentment, defensiveness. Both parties grow less keen to get together next time; and lives diverge.