Confession: Whenever the sheer number of people in this world starts to come into focus — even in the tiniest way — it freaks me out.
I would say that it causes heart palpitations, but that’s not entirely true…though it does seem to cause somewhat of the emotional equivalent.
I catch my breath when I picture the masses, the faces, the throngs of humanity that my well-designed bubble generally does a good job of blocking out. Oxygen gets stuck in in sort of limbo until I remind myself that I do, in fact, have control over what I’m feeling. And so I shake it off.
There’s a lot of damn people in this world.
I’ve thought that more times than I can count in the last few months: When I’m watching a TED Talk. When I see strangers’ comments or faces on news sites or Facebook. When I pass by them in airports. When I’m in a plane looking down on the landscape miles below.
There’s a lot of damn people in this world. And the world’s getting smaller every day.
I’ve not been one to embrace the hashtag until very recently, and it was a short, superficial embrace at best — the kind you give when you can’t wait to leave, nay, flee. A colleague suggested I try it when Instagramming a few travel photos earlier this week, and at first the appeal was clear. Having a few strangers appreciate my photographic offerings was a lovely thing, as was the idea of having more find their way to my pictures. But when I investigated a particular hashtag I’d just included, millions of others had also used it.
Exploring the other photos inspired a few migraine-like sensations: a twinkly aura, a dull throbbing. It was as though someone had located a cranium-sized vise and began quickly tightening its jaws around my skull.
I am not interested in millions. I am interested in my safe harbor, my nest, my cocoon. I’m interested in my Snuggified life of coziness, warmth and security. While I enjoy exploring, it’s clear that I do it best on my terms only, and that I need to approach it in the same way a controlled-release tablet approaches the body:
Baby steps. Tiny bites. A dash here and a sprinkle there.
In a word, moderation. Anything else tends to be a giant energy-suck for me.
Part of the joy in my daily writing was firmly rooted in the simple routine of it all. I’d created a little nook, neatly decorated with trinkets, treasures and just the right amount of sparkle, and I looked forward to coming home to it each day. I felt about it the same way others may look forward to their morning cup(s) of coffee, or the way others may cherish a long, soul-cleansing drive to nowhere in particular.
Getting away from it left me with a void almost instantly. Its absence created a strange combination of inferiority and frustration, emptiness and apathy. And while those are the words I put to it today, they hardly do justice to what I really felt inside.
When I decided to take a break from Thanky in the name of wanting it to be more, I thought I was doing the right thing. In reality, departing from my routine left me paralyzed. In the wake of not writing at all, it became nearly impossible to picture what I wanted my writing to become.
No, I don’t want to deal with the masses or the millions — I want a safe harbor of familiar protectors and compassionate souls. But somewhere in there is a happy medium I’ve yet to find — someplace where feeling overwhelmed isn’t on par with feeling suffocated and beating a hasty retreat.
I need to find a happy medium when it comes to writing, too. While it may not become a daily occurrence again, if it does, then so be it. I never tried to bridge the gap between doing it every day and stopping cold turkey. I simply shelved it, and it began to tarnish.
Just like me.
One in a million — or millions — is a daunting thing. One in a billion is impossible for me to want to wrap my head around. But finding a way to bridge the gap is imperative in order to move from mere thinking to doing, or from hemming and hawing to joining.
Today I am thankful for dusting off Thanky and for rejoining the community it became part of — not only to reduce its tarnish and restore its shine, but mine, as well.