Look away

target-kind-cashier-today-160119_43b87714bde3c4e300e79126f3ade9f9.jpgThere is only one thing that can get me outside myself – besides sex – and that’s writing. Ok there is one more thing: talking to people. So yeah, in order of importance? I guess it’s sex, writing, then talking.

With sex, it’s pretty self-explanatory why it’s easy to get outside yourself. Or rather, out of your way. Stop thinking so much and just start doing. Same with writing (for me). Talking with people? It’s a little easier to get distracted. Somebody can be yammering on and I can drift away if I’m not careful, but even with that I’m getting better at noticing when I’m not paying attention or if I am monologuing it and not even noticing whether the other person is listening or not. I’m getting better at checking in and staying connected (get it? ‘Connected?’ Sex? Hahaha).

So yeah, aside from sex, it’s writing. Writing for me is like talking to this imaginary other person. This all-knowing, all-understanding other person who just ‘gets’ me. That’s why I like writing. It’s like my best friend is sitting there, listening, hanging on every word, and they have all the patience in the world. Maybe it’s because they know that I will be enraptured when they speak next. That’s what writing is for me.

It makes time go away because for a moment I am connected not only to the universe of being but to all of the minds down the road who might read these words… who might follow this train of thought and not jump off the train out of fear or boredom. It’s not necessarily that I write for posterity – although that is a plus – it’s more the idea that my mind can somehow time travel into someone else. Ok, so maybe it is about ‘living on’ but not because I need to be famous. I just like the idea of popping into somebody else’s mind and bopping around and seeing if maybe an idea or two that I have might help them out.

Like this idea. Look people in the eye. I know I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. Or, try the opposite and don’t look people in the eye. Either way, do what’s unexpected. Sometimes when I go through the checkout lane at the grocery store, I deliberately give the cashier very little attention. Not because I’m ignoring her or him but because I want to take the pressure off so they don’t feel obliged to ask the same ole boring questions. I notice that if they feel attended to but not stared at, then they start opening up and telling me things. Like this lady the other day who told me how the previous guy had just tried to hit on her and she was glad she escaped his clutches. Or like this other store clerk who told me how much he hated the whole Monopoly marketing campaign but he had to do it and what a fucking waste of time it was and how employees at other companies like McDonald’s were often fired over it because the staff would collude and try to scam the company and save the tickets and win the big bucks. I love it when people share things because you’re not putting pressure on them to share.

But I also like putting the pressure on. I like looking at people just to let them know that I’m aware, and I’ve noticed that when people are being watched that they don’t really want to escape. I’ve noticed that if you don’t look away upon first meeting someone (in a natural, non-weirdo sort of way), then people are not tempted to look down at their phones. But if you allow yourself to get shy and look away for too long, virtually everyone begins the self-preservation tactic of grabbing their phone and hiding, too. Stop hiding, I say. Stop!!!! Myself included!!!!

So there’s an idea. Don’t hide. Stay connected. Writing. Sex. Talking. It’s all the same thing really.

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