Learning about myself is like reading a book I need to reread over and over to understand. Sartre’s Being and Nothingness had that affect on me. Read a page, sit and wonder what was just implied, reread the page out loud, put the book down, decide I’ll give it another go tomorrow night. I can’t imagine being in Sartre’s mind, though there must be a serenity in being able to so openly spill your insecurities and create an entire new branch of philosophical thought from them.
If I sit listening to my mind, I confuse myself excessively and have to take a minute to meditate on those confusions before ignoring them, and deciding I’m just being over analytical. Nonetheless, it is quite vicious much of the time, to feel a sort of annoying hot poker jabbing at your brain, whispering “who the fuck are you?” whilst you’re trying to focus on menial life chores.
I decided long ago that I adhere to the philosophy of absurdism made famous by Albert Camus. I discovered this absurdist leaning after becoming most annoyed by a certain work etiquette and a work colleague who seemed to embody it, like Camus’ Sisyphus quietly pushing the rock up the hill only to watch it fall down again and again. I had taken a tray of food over to a table in an uninspiring conference room. An old portrait of the owners’ grandma as a toddler plagues the far wall. An old fireplace confirms my suspicion that the whole place had failed to progress beyond the 1950s. The dullness of the room was reflected in the dullness of the people sat around the conference table waiting for their overpriced dinner to arrive. I had been asked to help take the food out, a joy that I rarely partake in, not least because it is about as intellectually stimulating and as jubilant an occasion as realising you have no toilet roll left in the house during a moment of terrible bowel discomfort. Anyway, I took a tray to the table, placed it down, took the food from the tray and put it neatly in front of the gentleman. We talked for 30 seconds or so about the local football team, and we laughed about something. He was actually very pleasant. He seemed desperate to talk to someone other than the lifeless souls who had gathered around the table to eat, like robots refilling on oil. He gave me a tip too. At my workplace, they don’t normally tip. I walked out of the room and my colleague said, in a brash tone, with a stare that could cut through solid lead, said “I cannot believe you just did that“. After giving her a look of confusion, she told me that I should NEVER put the tray down on their table because it makes us look terribly unprofessional. At that moment, it struck me, just how pointless and meaningless my job was. Just how useless an existence it is to say that your full time job, is to serve rich people. She told me it was awful to put a tray down on a table; she became red with anger. To an outsider, it was as if I had gone into that room, quietly walked over to the table and waved my willy in their faces. It was an absurd situation, of which I had to laugh. I laughed at her. Not intending to be rude, I just laughed, which is rude, but I honestly don’t care. The situation deserved a laugh, and it just spontaneously came out of my face, it couldn’t be stopped. The whole episode was so insignificant it holds more meaning to me, than much of my life so far. That very episode changed my philosophical self reasoning far more than any other.
Discovering your life and your essence are absurd; putting an end to what is seemingly considered an innate search for truth and purpose, by accepting thoroughly that truth and purpose are simply man made concepts that are vastly incompatible with the chaotic and aimless nature of the universe and the random process of natural selection, we must then discover who we are individually. This is the tricky part. There are so many contradictions in my personality and so many faults and flaws that I cannot pin down exactly who I am and this frustrates me. I want to be fully rounded, I want to understand myself entirely and I want to know that I am in control of who I am and what I do.
I think it is fair to say I am decidedly introverted. I would be happy living my life with no interference from anyone else. Whereas many people can count “good listener” as a positive personal trait, I can’t. I may act it, I may pretend to care, but ultimately I am easily bored by the stories of others, I get anxious about how to respond, especially if those stories are excessively trivial. I hate clubbing, I hate too much socialising, I prefer solitude and thought. I like my own company and time to myself. I like losing myself in a book. I may come across as ignorant and at times I wont talk much, answering everything with a simple “yeah“. This is either because my mind is wandering, or I have very little interest in what is being said to me, and feel any response would be forced and inadequate. The only person I like listening to, and being around is Ash, which is probably a good thing. We went viewing homes around Bendigo in Australia last weekend. Beautiful, and yet affordable homes. We both want a personal study room, to lock ourselves away in when we need to be alone. Often you will hear people insist that a happy relationship and a happy family is achieved by spending quality time together, and that’s true. But equally as important is having your own space. Independence is a feature I must never compromise, nor would I ever wish to throw myself so deep into someone else’s life that they feel less independent. If I feel my control over my own life is under threat, I pull away and start to question the route down which my life has rolled. I do not particularly need anyone else. I simply need to know that my World remains my World. Over my domain, I am a control freak.
Carl Jung brilliantly hypothesised that introversion and extroversion are chemical reactions in the brain; the introvert experiences large energy surges when alone or in a small group, whilst the extrovert thrives on less cortical arousal, needing instead outside stimulation. I am far more comfortable writing about how I feel, than actually telling people, because whilst I know I’m being completely irrational, I subconsciously presume that no one wants to hear my ranting, in the same way that I don’t particularly want to hear the rantings of others. I cannot abide people bitching endlessly about each other, or quite clearly having issues with each other and not communicating them. I notice the unneeded tension that I am not a part of, and wonder why the fuck I am in that situation, feeling slightly uncomfortable. I suppose introvert is simply a synonym for prodigiously self involved. That is certainly what “blog” is a synonym for. Or maybe it is the climax to a series of insecurities that chip away but never get faced. I don’t know which line of reasoning I prefer. Spending too much time around others drives me close to insanity and drains me of all energy, I get all anxious and need to get away. Life is not a waste of time, if it is spent on introspection, and reflection, as long as it doesn’t eat away at you. It is a constant search for an identity that seems to so fleetingly blow in the wind. There is an impeccable beauty in the solitude I feel when I am sitting on the beach wall at Dawlish Warren on the English south coast, in the early morning, with no one else around, the sounds of the sea at that particular place is the most serene and perfect of all places in my World. That is where I go when I close my eyes at night.
That is me.