Saturday, May 3, 2014

Little Moments (On Emotionally Present Vs Detached Conversation)

I have been volunteering at a local Jewish museum lately in an effort to get more involved with the community and meet other people. I have become tired of how stuck in my own head I am and wanted to try to be part of other people's lives, but was quite unsure of how to do this. 

In the people I have met at the museum, I have found wonderful conversations, wonderful connections and so much opportunity to feel like I matter to someone. From intellectual conversations to discussions of emotions to discussions of art and the weather and Jewish culture and whatever else, I have found it here.

But the most amazing thing that has happened has probably occurred when I wasn't actively trying to make anything at all happen. Let me give you an example. One day, I was with two other women who work at the museum, waiting in the room across the hall for the Monday evening services to get out so we could go back into the chapel area. The conversation that broke out while we were waiting was... so delicious in only a way that someone as emotionally starved for conversation as I am could probably appreciate. It was... casual. Oh so casual, and full of... emotion, and people being themselves. Just chit chat of some sort... the topic I don't really remember. The words didn't really matter... It was the delicious flow of back and forth... that I was for once a part of. Just basic chit chat of which I almost never get to be a part of, while we were waiting for the services to end. 

Why is this meaningful? Besides the fact that I was emotionally and socially shut out from the world around me for the vast majority of my 30 years... I have realized in the last few days that nearly all my social interactions involve analysis or high intellectual functioning or discourse. I have realized that the family I grew up in prized intellectual discourse more than anything else, so this became my first language. I have learned that I use analysis of events as a way to distance myself from experiencing the emotions of the events. I am so grounded in analysis that I can't even conceive of how to be truly emotionally present in a conversation. Even my social interactions now all revolve around intellectual events, and I don't like that. I still feel like I am missing something, shut out from the emotion I want to experience in all these discussions. I think I may have finally hit upon what it is. I need to find a way to be emotionally present instead of using intellectual analysis as my one and only way to communicate. This will not be easy as I have few role models. All my friends are Aspies and prone to analysis as well, perhaps not as much as me but in the same way of thinking. My family behaves similarly. In fact, I had not realized just how rare actual basic what would be considered for most people as throw away conversation was until I experienced this conversation at the museum and tried to figure out why it made me feel so wonderful - when the others couldn't seem to remember it had even happened five minutes after it ended. It was normal for them. It was revolutionary for me. 

I have never had the opportunity to just hang around people my age. Not for lack of trying. In college I never had the opportunity, I had a couple friends I sometimes was with but our conversation was never or rarely of the flowing, emotionally present sort. To observe people just being people is revolutionary to me. Everyone that I have been able to observe in my life has always used analysis or intellect as a way to deflect their emotions.  Or maybe sometimes just simply being closed off for other reasons, unemotional or unexpressive for whatever their reason, but I have almost never had the opportunity to observe emotionally present people. And I am starved for it. 

Just one more reason I like country music so much. I don't always agree with the words and I can't always share the experiences in the songs. But the emotions in the voices of the singers are so intense, so wonderfully intense. The sound of the voice speaks to the emotion throbbing in my heart, threatening to overwhelm me. When I am overwhelmed to the point of breaking apart by my own emotions and my lack of ability to find them reflected in anyone around me (so good are people at shutting off their emotions in work environments or public environments and so almost non-existent are my opportunities to join them in private environments) then I turn to my music to find my emotion reflected in the songs on the radio, and this soothes me. No matter what the songs are actually about... Hearing the emotion break in their voices is the only thing that calms me and soothes the savage beast inside me. Being an atheist liberal Democrat, I can take songs about driving trucks and praying to God and find the emotion so prescient that it doesn't matter how religious they are... I've always wondered at that, but didn't bother to probe it too deeply... Just figured that if I replaced some of the words in the songs with other more relevant symbols in my life, the songs would fit just as well. 

I have no idea what to do with all of these insights, but writing about them is the first step to understanding them.  I need to figure out a way to be more emotionally present in my life and a way to observe other emotionally present people to figure out how they do it.  One possible step in this direction will be to try to take an improv acting class, as I believe this could help me learn to be more emotionally present in the moment. I have identified a possible class and as long as I can tolerate the building I will try to take it, it starts in less than two weeks so I am hopeful but don't know if I can tolerate the building yet so we will see. Let's hope so. 

On another country related note, the title of this blog is a Brad Paisley song (the Little Moments part anyway).

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