The last few days have been a (mostly) satisfying whirl-wind of activity: this morning I played a Mother’s Day piano show; yesterday I led a meeting of nearly 30 people for the investment group I attend; on Friday we took our cat to the vet and went on our monthly Costco shopping trip; and Thursday I performed at an Improv Comedy Jam (like an open mic, but for comedy improvisers), taught some students, and led a musical rehearsal for a cast of 9-12 year old girls.
All this, you understand, occurs in the context of pre-summer Sacramento, where there is already enough sun to put sweat on your brow if you are out in it.
Overall, I’m very satisfied with the last few days in the life of Chris. But… it took a toll. As I wrote yesterday, the break of routine disturbed my eating patterns a bit. Also, I dealt with a few headaches recently probably related to needing to maintain water and electrolyes. Lastly, every new experience–even good onces–can bring up its own “contrast,” that is, the parts that don’t feel so good, or are confusing, frustrating, or upsetting in some way. They leave me scratching my head a bit and in need of a chance to go off somehow and get my head clear again.
In other words, after all this activity, I needed time to think!
This seems to be common for me. I’ve written about needing a lot of time to think things through, about being highly sensitive, and about how a little goes a long way with me. Well, it always seems that after any kind of experience that I find intense–even when it is intensely good!–I find that I often want to go off by myself for awhile….
…And think things through.
It seems that having time to think is a necessity for my overall well-being. I have created my life around giving myself space… to process. I need to have time to regroup, replenish, and re-align.
When I don’t give this to myself, I can easily get cranky, confused, or out of sorts. I found this out the hard way a few years back when I went on a month-long trip to South Africa and Ireland with my mom and brother. The trip overall was a smashing success, yet there were times when my mind needed a time out! We had an ambitious itinerary that involved constant travel, constant change, constant motion. I was dealing with sensory overload from being in new countries, from dealing with my own fears and distrust. In these situations, something as simple as driving on the wrong side of the street gave me a certain kind of shell-shock! My sense of equilibrium was often out of whack, and at times it was really uncomfortable.
Notwithstanding this, I enjoyed many of the sites and sounds of the trip. I loved seeing the animals in Kruger National Park in South Africa. I loved going to museums and to the theater in London. My refuge on this trip was reading. I read many books. This was a chance for me to calm down, to sit and process, not have to talk or move around or see new things. To go inside a different world on the page.
This was the time I needed to think.
These days, I go to the cafe nearby. There I will write for hours. Often it truly is bliss. I think I understand even more why this pleasurable for me: I crave the ability to think, the ability to clear my mind, and the ability to process. I find that I can easily get overloaded, and staying energized and positive with a lot of commotion in my life may not be as automatic for me as perhaps it is for others.
It explains why I don’t often listen to background music, don’t keep the TV on, don’t watch the news, or don’t really like to have a lot of people chatting around me generally (unless I am part of the chatting going on, or in an environment like the cafe, which attracts people who tend to be focused on constructive activities like school work and professional meetings).
It turns out I just need the space. Because I need time to think!