Have you ever had an out of body experience? Not necessarily the “I was dead for three minutes and walked toward the light” sort of thing (though that would certainly count), but more in the “I’m here but not here” kind of way. I realized recently that this happens to me on a pretty regular basis, and when I become aware of it, it genuinely freaks me out–for a number of reasons.
I’ll give an example. My job requires me to be in a fair number of meetings per week, most of which involve me updating people in my department about whatever tasks I’m working on at the time. Almost without fail, I will notice as I am speaking about these things that the words coming out of my mouth aren’t mine. They aren’t anyone’s–they are essentially just an autopilot version of a human being speaking with other human beings. And as this realization sets in, I actually get to the point where I am watching myself speaking, hearing sounds being projected across the room, but not having any true conception of what is being said or why. And the craziest part is that if I am asked to repeat what I’ve said or expand upon something, I can almost always do it without trouble. Or rather, more words are produced by the robot below me that satisfy the people listening.
I can’t remember when I first started disassociating like this, but I can say it is a very good method for inducing panic in me when it occurs. No amount of history or practice can prepare me for the feeling of having “two” selves, the automated version of which is available to others. I wish it were as simple as a daydream that can take place when you are really bored with your surroundings, but there is a difference. When I daydream, I may as well be sleeping with my eyes open. I am not productive, I cannot speak or respond, and I certainly am not aware of it in some second-order way as it is going on.
It isn’t just something that can fly up when I am interacting with others. I can realize that I am doing something productive alone and begin to “float” over it just as easily. I watched myself read a book last night for ten or fifteen minutes. I can recall all of what was read, but I can also recall the realization that I was completely detached from the eyes and brain that were taking in the words on the page.
Maybe this all takes place because my brain is always running at ninety miles an hour, and isn’t capable of focusing on just one thing. But the thing is, it’s not as though the “floating” version of myself starts to dwell on something other than what the autoversion of me is doing. Most of the time I just watch myself, essentially as a passive observer, taking in the spectacle of a body participating in day-to-day life sans depth.
I realize that by putting this out there in the world I am not making myself look too good. I was asked recently why I feel the need to blog about things this personal, and the truth is, I don’t really know. Sometimes I just like getting my feelings on the page and then throw them into the cybervoid to see if someone else can relate. Sometimes I feel like publishing something makes it “real”, where it used to be only in my mind (and therefore not real). Sometimes I want to make a clever point and it can be an ego boost to have affirmation of that by someone else. And sometimes I just feel do it, Nike style, without a cause. Or at least one I am aware of. Beyond that, though, I know people could say I’m trying to characterize myself as crazy to get attention. Or they could say I’m trying to come up with an excuse for not giving people the proper amount of attention when I speak to them. Or they could just read this and not think or say anything. All are possible scenarios. At the end of the day, though, sometimes it helps in a completely non-descriptive way to take something that has been bothering me, write it out in the rambling, disjunctive method that I have developed here, and post it without reason or justification. Just because.
And it dawned on me at this moment that I am watching myself write this as well.