Most people turn a spigot to control the flow of the informational self. Opening the valve at will, and adjusting the flow as the pipe diameter allows. I have a hammer and a dam. Slamming the hammer into the dam yeilds nothing the first knock, and only a few droplets seep through over next several frantic smashings. Then spews a deluge of stone and water. Fortunately (or unfortunately,) by the time the flood crests, everybody has found safe ground elsewhere — usually.
“One-track mind” is a pejorative label, a criticism of an obsession. But the best one can aspire to is a two-track mind. Track One is what you are aware of, and Track Two is being aware of what you’re aware of it — metacognition. [Some Buddhas may be able to mirror it out to a third level, but not me.] Sure, one can juggle things in and out of Track One like a spastic circus worker, but it’s still a one-track mind. And dialing in Track Two is like tuning into one of those cross-country super-stations back in the radio days. The ones that only came in clearly in the stillness of the dead of night, and, otherwise, tipped into static with the slightest provocation on this spinning, orbital world.
My point is that I require a track for actions that usually take place down below the waterline, in the engine room — i.e. eye contact, smiling, etc. So when my one-track mind is occupied with information flows, I’m staring off who knows where — looking like the person who peers over your shoulder at a clock or at the prettier person he wishes he was talking to — but without recovery, because I’m oblivious to what my eyes are taking in. Worse, sometimes I remember to juggle “make eye-contact and smile” into Track One, and then I realize after the fact that I stared down an interlocutor with a maniacal grin until he excused himself, worrying I might have been sizing him up to make a coat of his skin.
Lest you think me wallowing in the mire, there’s a sweet upside. Under the right conditions, I gobble up and manage information like one of those giant harvesters that chews through a 200 acre cornfield in a day — separating grain and chaff — and stowing it away neatly. And, putting my body in motion, I can dive a mile inside, losing my Self and becoming blissfully enamored with this electric life.
Then there’s that aspect of me that I used to feel a curse, but have come to embrace: my inability to give two fucks about things that drive “the normals” to frenetic lunacy, such as:
- collecting and squirreling away bits of matter
- sports teams (A digression: I’ve always found spectator sports to be like being invited to watch a party through the window from the outside. I see why the athletes are fervent about it, but can’t figure out why anyone else would care.)
- the need to be loved by every single person I come into contact with — that must be exhausting
- the need to feel that I understand the world (I love the chase, but I’m like a mutt chasing a Mack truck. Catching it would prove fatal. It might not crush my body, but it would crush my soul.)
I’ve been thought many things:
- People-hating: Untrue. I see each person as a bright and splendid sun. Warming. Soothing. Invigorating. Burning. Scorching. Cancer causing. And, ultimately, fatal. “The poison is in the dose,” as they say. Catch me without sunscreen and I’ll flee. With it, we may know some time together. My wife seems to be the only one free of this harsh and curious radioactivity.
- Arrogant: OK, it’s not wrong that I be thought arrogant, but it’s usually in ways and degrees that do not hold. I once heard Neil Gaiman say something to the effect that a writer must balance humility with the lunatic overconfidence of a seven-year-old schoolboy. To clean out the attic before it explodes out the windows and into the street requires an inexplicable degree of comfort with everybody seeing the skeletons, sex toys, and unused fitness equipment you’re putting to the curb.
- Depressive: Perhaps, in the days I felt the need to be someone else, but more likely just drained from the time-release vampires.