One constant has been loneliness. On the one hand, this is my fault, because my natural tendency is to ignore other people for the fascinating isolation of my own mind. Despite my best efforts, I don’t have an innate sense of self-image, of self-perception from the outside. For this reason, I find Ego Cultivation to be an endlessly fascinating challenge of a hobby. What to say, what to wear, how to act, it can all be a great kick to get those things right. But the second I switch off or start neglecting these balls I’m juggling, they all fall on the floor, and I revert to my naturally quiet self.
This makes me a bit schizophrenic, perhaps. Both identities are me: the quiet geek lost in his own thoughts, and the happy jester who wants to put a smile on everyone’s face, and be loved for it. It is the quiet geek I care about, and the jester is left to take a beating by the public just as he receives accolades. Since the jester is an external ego, I really don’t mind what animosity gets spilled on it. That stuff washes off. On the other hand, the jester is a derivation of the inner geek, so if people like the jester, and I have the time, I share a little more of the inner personality lurking behind.
When I get to walking, in the quiet solitude of nature, I am most naturally in geek form: quiet and thoughtful, less concerned with my impression on the world because I feel connected to it. I think the word solitude in that last sentence is key here: in a world where most of us are caught up in the internal combustion joyride from one dark air-conditioned chamber to the next, us walkers are few and far between. I think that maybe most people are more lonely than they like to admit: I used to hurry home for the satisfying social stimulation of the television. I liken this to a sugary cereal, which while delicious at the moment, doesn’t really leave much nourishment.
My mom brought me up on Cheerios and low-fat milk. She bought wheat bread because the digestive challenge is healthier. Now I have forsaken the hyperactive diet of sugar-coated human experience on TV for the harsh, thick dietary loaf of the ancestors. When my ancestors walked around, they weren’t alone in doing so. Everyone was hanging around outdoors, and greetings and gossip would pass. In my age, I am alone with my thoughts, my geek and my jester. I can take notes to exchange words with people around the world when I make it home.
A trade-off, a deal I have no choice in striking, because I live in the world I was born into, and I can no longer stomach commercials.