Nobody thinks like I do.
That’s a strong statement, and while not entirely true, it’s close enough to use as my premise. Everyone, at least for a while, wants to be different, special, or unique. Many of us succeed, and many of us slide into something like conformity anyway. That’s usually how it works – we all have our bits of “unique” attributes. Due to pressures from friends, family, or more probably the ‘real world’ in general, we slide these aspects into a sometimes strained relationship with the rest of ourselves – pieces of the whole of The Rest Of The World. To an extent, it has to work this way, at least for most of us. We’re not ready to give up our cell phones, canned soup or antibiotics to live in any of the few remaining wildernesses and be very ‘unique’ there. In many ways, we have more freedom to pursue these often esoteric branchings of personality and creativity when the basic needs of body are met. Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to match filling those needs (Work) with doing what we love (Play).
That’s tangential, though. My ‘uniqueness’ is different. I’m not talking about my creative endeavors, though those are related. I’m not talking about work either, though it certainly connects as well. What’s different is how I think, what that looks like from the outside, and what it means about how I relate to people. I’m sure most folks can relate, and I don’t mean to say that I’m somehow alien. I’m different in degrees, not fundamentally.
I’ve described my thoughts as “rapid fire” or “free association.” There is an substantial amount of noise in my head at any moment – three or four fragments of vectors of analysis of something, a few ‘verbal’ lines running at once. Sometimes I hear more than one song playing at once. None of this seems ‘external’ – it’s all clearly internal “monologue,” fortunately for me I’ve got a clear delineation between internal and external, at least usually. This is especially good, because the signal to noise ratio in here isn’t great.
Once I latch onto something, however, many of those vectors and lines of internal conversation will coalesce into one thing, one general direction or pattern. Many, but not all. If you’ve spent time with me in person, you’ll know what I mean when I mention getting “excited” about something. I can become hugely animated about something, and in that moment, I have intense and ultimate passion about it. I can stay on one subject or object like this for a fairly extended period, or I can branch out in rapid, ADD-like tangents., probably thanks to the not-tied-up vectors of thought. This is probably the most clearly visible aspect of what’s “different” about me, and it’s caused a lot of people to try to come up with labels to describe “what I am.” Thanks, but as I age I realize it’s not entirely that simple
My rapid-fire tangent-following is, I imagine, related to my intense desire to cross-reference everything to, well, everything else. It’s a pretty large project, and it’s not exactly, well, sane, nor is it entirely conscious, but more than one person has made the observation. It’s also in line with how my memory operates – if a fact is isolated (a date, a single chunk of information about something, or maybe a conversation) I’ll usually forget it – but if I can correlate it to something else, it’ll be locked in permanently. Certainly this is why people use mnemonic devices, but my ability to lose declarative memories and remember stuff that relates is pretty skewed.
This is a tough post to write – it’s hard to try to open up my skull and share it when this stuff is so internal and so ingrained, but there’s one thing that’s easy to explain: being like this is lonely. I haven’t met a lot of people who seem to be like this at all. In that, it’s actually difficult to find people I can converse with easily. Oh, it’s easy enough to find people to rant at, and some people seem to rather enjoy my company, so I can only imagine that such asymmetry isn’t inherently unpleasant for everyone – but I don’t know a lot of people who operate at this pace, or with this level of chaos – or intensity. I’ve met one, or maybe two – and both were fairly subdued compared to me, though in many ways far more brilliant. (Perhaps self control and meditation are worth looking into… )
I have hope, though. There are billions and billions of people out there. (Thanks, Carl Sagan. ) It’s impossible that there’s nobody like me. I just need to find a few of us. Then we can move out and start a commune in the forest, and not have to deal with that Real World thing. We can just rant and ramble at each other endlessly… or at least until we all die of some common bacterial infection due to the lack of running water and antibiotics.
Er, maybe being almost-unique isn’t such a bad thing.