Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fear of Flying

Distractions come in many forms, and sometimes I think that I like most of them. Even contemplating the variety of forms they take, and the particular spectrums they might sparkle the announcement of their presence with, fills many moments with pleasant diversion. As my focus on a particular project narrows the number of distractions grows by displacement. A laser-sharp focus could create an entire universe of distraction.

“There is an art, it [The HGG] says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. Pick a nice day, [The HGG] suggests, and try it. The first part is easy. All it requires is simply the ability to throw yourself forward with all your weight, and the willingness not to mind that it's going to hurt. That is, it's going to hurt if you fail to miss the ground. Most people fail to miss the ground, and if they are really trying properly, the likelihood is that they will fail to miss it fairly hard.
Clearly, it is the second part, the missing, which presents the difficulties.” – Douglas Adams from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy


The other night I remained awake till the earliest sounds of morning lulled me into a few hours late sleep. If not for the threat of a day spent paying for my night I would have fought harder to maintain my wakeful attention for those last few hours as well.

Some sleepless nights are forced on me by stressful circumstances. Sleep cowers in fear to avoid being contaminated by the mind’s obsessive replaying of the day’s events. Rejection, disappointment, disillusionment, heartbreak, inadequacy, embarrassment, cuts deep and shallow play over and over. I think once is enough for most hurts, but the sleep-deprived subconscious has some need to recapture the excruciating nuances of each hurtful moment. Tossing and turning like a fresh caught fish, and then –just as sleep tiptoes in- I am waken by some ill defined impact-like jolt.

The other night was something different. Sleep waited patiently as I explored the tactile potentials of exciting possibilities. Each imagined situation was assembled with interesting distractions from the day’s wanderings mixed with exciting ideas. When I focused on any element it would unfold in detail until it presented me with another comfortable situation to try out. The feeling of a saturating wellness was only slightly displaced by a free-floating gleeful expectation. It was a psychological equivalent of trying out overstuffed lounging chairs in an infinite showroom; a lovely saleswoman patiently waiting to take me by the hand and lead me to the next chair everytime I settled in.

When I woke I had an impulse to go shopping for a new queen-sized bed, but that sort of endeavor is best avoided on days following too-little sleep.

I often run to clear my mind of things. Troubles drive me out the door, and the fact that they wait for me extends my run. I will sometimes make a mental list of all sorts of troubling and annoying things just before going out for a run. This way I can load up the emotional hopper in preparation for the run. I sometimes imagine one of those trucks that empty porta-potties diving down the highway with a secret valve that allows its contents to leak out on the road open and spewing.

The other day I ran while recreating a series of awkwardly pleasant experiences in my mind. I caught myself laughing at spastically timed intervals. I said hello to strangers I passed with a little too much enthusiasm. I pictured myself as I was –the crazed giggling sweat-drenched middle aged waddling man- and laughed a couple more times. My pace-time sucked, but I would have kept going forever if my legs did not hurt as much as they do after a long run.

When I catch a pretty woman out of the corner of my eye while running I sometimes stumble. When I later recall the incident I usually smile a slight knowing smile. That does not mean I enjoy stumbling while out running.

Then again there is the possibility that if I stumble just right I will find myself flying.

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