Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Sounds of Peaceful Times

I will be the first to admit that music is my "mind altering drug of choice."

That said, my musical tastes have typically left me standing alone, somewhere out in left field. As have my tastes across many other aspects of life.

Indulge me, for a moment... press play, and experience the inner soundtrack that goes with a bit of an exploration of the ways-- or at least ONE way-- we HSPs often experience our "aloneness" in the universe.

Before getting in too deep, let me underscore that I am talking about aloneness here, not "loneliness."

"What's the difference," you might ask.

To my way of thinking, aloneness is an existential experience, while loneliness is situational and experiential. Aloneness is a sense of disconnect-- on some level-- from all that is.

What does this have to do with being an HSP?

The more "specialized" a person is... that is, the more their attributes, values and interests are "different" from the majority, the more likely they are to experience degrees of existential aloneness. In this case, I brought up music because it was one of the early ways I discovered myself to be "not like others."

I love music... but always found most of it rough and grating; an assault on the senses rather than a joy... or I found it boring and predictable in a very pedantic sort of way.

But there are many ways we-- as HSPs-- can end up in this type of place. We discover these stark differences between "us" and "the world," and experience moments of detachment... even if they don't last. 

And don't get me wrong... it's not that we are being criticized, even... it can be simply through observation that what "everyone else" seems to enjoy is starkly different from our own reality. And so, we feel "alone," rather than part of.

Music, movies, books, art, food, interests, hobbies, philosophies, tone of voice... we look to all of them for pleasure, joy and entertainment, but part of our enjoyment also comes through "invitations to connect" with others who experience as we do. We extend the invitation, only to discover that what we value-- whatever it might be-- is important just to us. Not to anyone else. At worst, maybe we're told we're "weird." Most of the time, we simply experience a sort of blankness... a spoken or unspoken "I don't GET it."

Which can be hard to... hard to?... hard to deal with. Hard to take in stride and to accept (and even embrace?) without certain feelings of loss and sadness. So often I have found myself in a situation where I didn't necessarily feel hurt, but I pondered "what am I supposed to DO with this feeling?"

On the whole, I try to take a pretty positive approach to life. I have heard it said that when we focus on our differences from others, we are actually building fences to set ourselves apart from them. When we say we are "not like" someone, we are excluding chances to connect. I get that, and don't believe in setting myself too far apart.

But where do we draw lines? At what point do we cross a line where we forsake our own essential truth and our sense of self in service of some fleeting connection?

I started feeling my aloneness early-- as a preteen-- as I started to realize that it felt wrong to compromise certain things, and it felt wrong to "fake" and "pretend" to like and enjoy things I really didn't, just in service of "belonging." Belonging to a family, a club, a group, an interest. 

At times I wept over my seeming "apartness" from the tapestry of life unfolding around me, but it didn't take me long to make peace with the fact that someone gets to be "that guy who sits on a rock on the beach and gazes out to sea for hours at a time." And it might as well be me...

Why am I writing these words?

Perhaps because I want to impart the idea to my fellow HSPs that aloneness doesn't have to be a "bad" thing, regardless of what society may teach us about fitting in and being part of the greater group. I mean, unless you can do so authentically... why bother?

And remember, this aloneness you might feel is not loneliness... you can feel alone in a roomful of people; even a roomful of people you admire and like. No person can fill the space... only you can (if you so choose) and there's no rule that says the space has to be filled. Maybe it's just supposed to be empty.

The music you have been listening to was composed by someone you've probably never heard of--  one of my long-time favorite composers of electronic music named Patrick O'Hearn. Although he is known perhaps better as a former bass player for Frank Zappa, and was part of the 80's band Missing Persons, it is this style of music that speaks to my soul.

And so... let us be true to those souls and allow our essences to shine, independently of societal or familial expectations. And if that involves a sense of aloneness for you, ALLOW it, don't fight it. There is great beauty in the stillness...

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Endings: Point of Contemplation

Last week, I found myself saying goodbye to an assortment of web sites I own-- and have owned-- for a long time. A couple of them for close to twenty years, which is practically "the history of the world," in terms of the Internet.

In a purely practical sense, my reasoning was simple enough-- faced with a hosting and domain service bill for $329, I realized I simply couldn't afford-- nor justify-- to keep these things running anymore. My inner dialogue was centered around the core reality that "they cost money to keep and take my time, but don't help me pay my bills, so they have to go."

The whole process of dumping these sites that had been part of my life for many years-- as well as part of my efforts to familiarize the world with the concept "HSP"-- made me pause to consider this world we live in. And it made me pause to think about the numerous HS people I know who are eternally "living on the edge" of barely making it.

We want to make a difference, and we want to have fun, and we want to make the world a better place but find ourselves living a world that demands 110% of our energy, focus and bandwidth merely to stay alive.

I suppose I am a bit of an idealist and I am trying to swallow the (somewhat bitter?) pill that my inner sense of how an ideal world could be seems to be perpetually at odds with the reality around me.

Although I have never really been someone who's "motivated by money," I am-- to some degree-- motivated by the idea of reciprocity. Not in the "giving to get" sense, but in the sense that it's nice to see one's efforts rewarded to the extent that continuing them seems worthwhile; at least to the extent that "doing right" is minimally self-sustaining... not just an expense.

I realize it's not just about me. It's about the world. The lady who has the shop next to our art gallery gets organic farm fresh eggs from her auntie. They cost $5 a dozen. I know as well as the next person that supporting local organic farmers is the "right thing" to do. I also have a coupon from the local supermarket for eggs at 79 cents per dozen. $5.00 vs. 79 cents. In so many cases, our choices are made for us, because we only (metaphorically speaking) have two dollars to spend.

As I pondered-- with a bit of sadness-- the demise of my long-time projects, my mind drifted back to earlier times when I was writing and trying to get articles published. And how often I was met with statements like "We'd love to include your article, but we're not able to pay contributors at this time... but it'll look great on your resumé!"

I used to believe that something good would come from persevering, anyway... so I did. These days I am more cynical, knowing that the supermarket doesn't accept "great looking resumés," they accept money. And I like to eat... at least occasionally.

Back when Sarah still had her radio program (another attempt at "doing right" that cost money, rather than made money), one of the things said by one of her guests on the program was "It's hard to change the world when you're always broke." As I thought about that, I realize that most people wanting to change the world are broke... because when you're doing well, odds are you're interested in keeping the system that led to your success.

In a strange turn of events, I was looking for a (re-) starting point for HSP Notes... and it became this story about endings. Funny, how that sometimes works out.

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