The Introvert Song

I live alone now.

I find that if I sit still too long, if I read too long, if I allow my concentration to slacken and let my eyes fall on the light hitting the cheap parquet floorboards in some particular way, I get dreamy. Without roommates or family or coworkers to keep me grounded, I take off. I drift. I mouth the words to songs. I sing aloud with as much volume as my apartment walls can handle. I have conversations with nobody but myself.

I don’t think this makes me crazy. I think this is an important part of my ability to function. I need this kind of space in order to collect myself. I can be a productive member of society and a regular old social butterfly up to a certain point and then I have to stop. The colour and the noise of people people people overwhelms me, and I need to withdraw.

Once I get into this space, things have a taste again. I can parse out the individual notes, the sounds, the textures. I experience the world much as some pretentious wine taster might, but not with anybody else in mind. I process my life like a wine critic when they’ve left the tasting and can drink a glass instead of just swirling it around for show.

I read things out loud. I delve into poetry and roll the words over my tongue and do not worry about overindulging. I read the same thing over and over to get the best sense. I want to distill it and refine it and then hear it spill out.

I sing to get the sound I’m looking for. I sing to imitate the voice I’m hearing at any particular time. I let whole torrents of poetry out and don’t often stop to write it all down, even though I should. This is a laundering process for my brain. Sometimes I get tangible things out of it, but sometimes I just get dreamy, get lost.

People talk a lot about loneliness. It’s a major concern, and I’m not immune. I get lonely. But not as often as you might think. I think a lot of people overlook the existence of these speculative introspective phases, and the fact that they’re good for something.

The next time you get afraid of being lonely, don’t reach directly for the phone. You don’t always have to reach out. Sometimes you can reach in. Sometimes nobody else can give you the thing you really need, because it’s buried in your own subtle nuances. It’s entangled in the stretching of your fingers as you type, in the blanket around your shoulders, in the expressions your face falls into when you aren’t using it to communicate with anybody else. It’s scattered in the places where your mind wanders when you haven’t given it an itinerary or a guest list.

Your own body and your own brain have plenty of things to teach you, and once in a while you should listen.

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