I like talking. I always have. There are unlimited choices to talk about ranging from the mundane to the esoteric. I’m not sure I could rank my interests. In general, it’s hard for me to think of a topic that I wouldn’t want to discuss. My head is stuffed with ideas, theories and opinions. I’m curious about the world from the microscopic to the great big universe. I want to know as much as I can shovel into my mind. The older I get, the more I want to know. I’m one of the lucky people for whom school didn’t interfere with my love for learning. Talking and sharing makes learning deeper, richer, at least for me. Bouncing ideas off other people is a great release and also a critical way to stretch your intellect. Then there are some basic health issues. All things being equal, if I didn’t talk as much as I do, I’m pretty sure my head would explode.
During my long years with Michael I talked with him about everything. When he was what we laughingly called a record magnate, or more realistically, a person who co-owned a music store for 27 years, I talked to him on the phone as many as half a dozen times a day. I’d be working at my own job with random thoughts percolating in my head and I just had to share them. What’s funny was that he wasn’t a big talker at all. He’d always listen but unless what I was chatting about had some undeniable interest for him, I’d wind up carrying on the conversation all by myself. He let me roll on and I think he understood that one way or another, my ideas had to be expressed.
In person, he’d look at me with a light in his eyes and a wry, benevolent smile. I’m certain that he wasn’t hanging on every word I uttered, but I felt satisfied after my daily purges. When he began his teaching career and was less available to me during the day, I’d be waiting eagerly for my talk time, usually after dinner and the evening news, or right before we turned in for the night. As time went on, he told me that he thought my perfect career would be talk show host. Except that I wouldn’t have any guests.
Just me, a microphone and the camera. I would argue that I needed someone to participate in the conversation. But now I’m not so sure. In the current iteration of my life, the person I see most, one-on-one, is my son. He tells me that I have my own monologue going on, rather than interactive conversations. Given that my primary listener is gone, I’d guess that’s fair. I think I build information volume in me that no longer is released on a regular basis. When opportunity presents itself, out it rolls. I’m not insulted at being accused of dominating conversations. I suspect that not having Michael as my listening outlet has interfered with my ability to clamp a filter over my stream of consciousness verbiage. Or maybe some self-awareness has diminished. In any case, when someone appears, all the internal dialogue just pops out. I can’t precisely explain the dynamics of what’s going on in my mind. I suspect that my brain is missing some shutoff valve, or that my personal brain chemistry lies outside the median of whatever is customary for limiting thinking overload.
Back in the days of my psychedelic experimental youth, I wanted to experience the expansion of consciousness that was promised by using LSD. I had a healthy degree of skepticism but was ready to try. I still remember my first acid trip. I liked the hallucinations part quite a bit. But I didn’t really believe that any cosmic thoughts and revelations would be unearthed by a drug. I wrote on a yellow legal pad during that night and although my ability to focus was a bit off, I don’t think I was any more enhanced or impaired than if I’d been drinking. After a few more tries, I quit doing that stuff as I identified my experiences as nothing more than exaggerated reality. The days of fatigue that followed weren’t worth being in that more intense reality when the one I had was full of its own challenges. I was always mentally present, my executive function a bit wobbly but intact. Still thinking.
During our life I would frequently ask Michael what he was thinking about and he would often say, “nothing.” Nothing? What is nothing? I can’t imagine the absence of thinking. My mind is whirring along all the time. Even when I’ve practiced meditation I can’t say that I’m not thinking, that I’m just being. I can reach a quiet space, but in my style of meditation, I’m conscious of deliberately releasing the flood of thoughts that are in my head rather than just hanging out with my mantra. Whether that means I’m really meditating or not, it works for me in small doses.
I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. Sometimes it’s exhausting. I’ve turned the stream of ideas that I used to share with Michael into the letters I’ve been writing him ever since he died. At the end of each day, I pour out whatever ideas and feelings that have run through my mind. Some letters are longer and more detailed than others. The absence of that daily communication is the hardest part of being on my own. So far, I haven’t caught myself talking out loud very often, spilling my words into the void. But the truth is that every night, I do call out Michael’s name before I sleep, inviting him to visit my dreams. Sometimes he shows up and sometimes he doesn’t. I’ve had dreams so vivid I’ve wakened in the night with my heart pounding and I rush to sink back into those before the feeling subsides. Other times, he’s just present and we are leading a very ordinary existence, doing chores, discussing household business in the most normal way. I wish that I could harness all my mental energy and will him into my subconscious space but I haven’t been able to find my way to that. So. That leaves my family and friends to absorb the mountain of thoughts that I process daily. Despite my intense desire to never censor myself, there are some subjects that I have to save for my journals. Although I personally don’t like rules, I understand boundary issues and rather than choke on a growing stack of unmentionables, I can write those in a space where no one has to listen.
When I’m gone, whoever becomes the arbiter of my possessions will have to decide if they just recycle the journals as they would any other paper or read them. The same goes for the personal photos I have of Michael and me that I simply can’t destroy. He told me I should get rid of them years ago but I can’t and I’m not sorry. Aside from the personal matters, I have a myriad of other topics to throw out to the world.
Here are a few from today…1) I can’t understand why every book I’ve read in the past ten years has spelling errors. Who’s doing the proofreading? Spellcheck? I can see how an automated system can allow for homonyms to escape into the final product but not actual misspellings. The other day, the word “categorize” was posted on a national news media screen, incorrectly spelled as “catagorize.” Not the end of the world, I know, but sloppy and lazy. I find this stuff irritating. 2) I’m wondering if I’ll live long enough to see Donald Trump disappear from the public view. Every day, his presence feels unavoidable and I find everything about him repugnant. I could list all my descriptive adjectives but I suspect that would become an unwieldy task. He’s hovered over the most difficult years of my life and I truly believe I’d feel healthier if I didn’t have to think about him any more. I hope I get there. 3) If I work hard enough to develop my garden will I make a tiny dent in the loss of insects and birds that’s lighting up the natural news? I’ve always been a kind of hurling gardener, just grabbing plants I found attractive, getting them into the ground and seeing what will happen. But in recent years I’ve become more deliberate, hoping that in my tiny corner of the world I can make a difference to all the creatures at risk from pesticides and destruction of habitat. I’m going to try. I want to be an oasis for the little ones we’re wholly dependent on in the long run. I want everyone to agree with me and do something about it.
4) I hate pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies run a close second. I want the rules changed, I want their lobbyists eliminated and I want everyone in the country to have access to health care without falling into poverty. Why can’t we get this done? Maddening and backward and all about profits. I’m so done with this issue.
5) The complexity of the operations of the human body are as mind-boggling to me as lightyears, galaxies and black holes. Probably more than that. I took a class recently about molecular biology and the sophistication of our microbiome along with its vulnerabilities are hard to wrap my head around. But I like to think about what I’ve learned and make up theories that I wish would make treating cancer easier. And I’d like to know where my wavelengths go when they peel off into the universe. And… maybe I’d better stop here. For today.