Below: A series of snippets that I either haven’t been able or just haven’t bothered to turn into full-length entries. Some may grow at a later time. For now, I think they make a nice collection here.
I don’t talk to myself; I just talk while there’s nobody else around.
I feel it’s an important distinction to make. Not that one is better than the other, mind; I have no doubt that there is much to be gained from having conversations with yourself, and I’ve tried my hand at it several times. I’m just not very good at it. I keep wanting to interrupt myself, and I tend to get very disheartened when somebody interrupts me. Then I have to apologize and assure myself that I really do respect my opinions and no, I wasn’t trying to be rude, and I have to try and regain the flow I had in my arguments, but the mood isn’t quite the same, I’ve lost track somewhere, and – yeah, it’s not fun for anyone. But just talking when no one is around to listen – that’s different. Somehow, much easier.
I sometimes feel unable to keep up with my own thoughts. An idea will take form in my head, but before I’ve ”finished it”, before I’ve properly comprehended it, I’ve already thought of an answer, a counter argument, a continuation. And then the same thing happens to that thought, and the one after, and so it continues ad infinitum.
But quite frankly, it doesn’t make sense. Once I’m aware of a thought, how is it then logically possible for me to feel that I haven’t finished thinking it? I know I can think faster than certain other people, but how is it possible for me to overtake myself?
Whenever I see a large gathering of people, it’s impossible for me not to think of them as animals. The resemblance, or maybe contrast, between the scene before me and those of the nature documentaries I spent my childhood watching is too great. I’m not intending to sound like a cynical, nihilistic stereotype when I say so; I feel no disdain or disgust or anything like it upon making this observation, no feeling of superiority (or inferiority for that matter) crosses my mind. At most I feel fascinated, and, in fact, a deep sense of peace of calm. There’s something weirdly harmonious about a group of human beings participating in the same activity, whether it be a bunch of music fans dancing at a concert, a room of quiet students taking an exam, or a group of commuters waiting for the bus. It’s the knowledge that at any time, one could decide to break away from the flow and do something else, but doesn’t. Or how no one in the flock is thinking about how they’re all doing the same thing, no one is thinking about the act itself, but rather they’re all immersed in doing it. They’re just living their lives normally, because that’s what it is – their lives. Our lives.
But once I stop to consider what’s happening, it’s a though I get detached from the whole experience. I’m overwhelmed by a feeling of being inhuman as soon as I’m aware of this particular part of human condition. I want to draw a loose analogy to quantum physics, where the act of observation changes the situation itself. Humanity is a sub-atomic particle: intangible and unstable.
“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”
Wittgenstein said that, if I’m not mistaken. (I know quoting philosophers is sort of pretentious, but he’s my favourite). I agree entirely, and more often than not, the shortcomings of my own vocabulary frustrate me to no end. I lack terms for so many things, mostly things I feel and think. Throughout my life, I have said the words “My stomach hurts” countless of times, but my stomach never just hurts; there are different types of pain, different positions they occupy, some are snakes biting at my insides while others feel more like nausea – and lumping them all under the term “stomach ache” is frankly ridiculous. But that’s the word I have, and its limitations affect my mind as well. I feel a thousand different things that are supposedly all the same, and as a result I live in a world where many things are confusing and overwhelming, too big and unmanageable.
I sometimes feel bad about my need to categorize and label myself, the desire for something more specific than “person”. But then I remember that the many cases and genders and inflections and grammatical engineering of the German language are what make its sentences so mechanically beautiful and strong, and then I feel better.
I took a class on Buddhism and Psychology, and my professor talked about his personal meditation, stating that he had an experience of not-self in the sense that when a sensory input such as bird song entered his body, it didn’t feel different from any input that might have arisen in his body, such as a tingle in his foot or a thought in his mind. And so he felt that there was not much of a boundary between him and the rest of the world.
I realized that this is a surprisingly accurate description of how I feel most of the time. Being on the autism spectrum makes me very sensitive to sensory inputs, and I think the above is part of what causes my regular sensory overloads. Someone once asked me to describe that kind of overload, and how I experience sensory inputs in general, and I told them that “it feels like everything I hear and see and smell is inside my head, and not somewhere outside.”