7 Mar 2014, 12:03pm

A Little Personal History, part 9, analysis you can count on

I may not remember your face until the 7th time we’ve met but I can exactly picture the font of the page number of p. 47 of a book I’m currently reading.

I suppose a lot of people who read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time related to the character. When nervous, I automatically count. Luckily with my memory for numbers I can’t recall how many ceiling tiles there are in any given reading venue in town. I generally know how many people are in a room. It’s a good sign of relaxation if I don’t. Running the numbers is a way to control. I’m (usually mildly) OC.

I’m hard-nosed when I need to be. I also have a sort of directional dyslexia. I get turned around very easily. The compass in my nose must have a lode of distracting iron in it.

To change all the points of reference is disruptive. For some people exhilarating. For me, more tiring. I like my routines. I like to experience new things but I’m a homebody with a lot of anxiety. The idea of travelling and needing to go though checkpoints of armed uniformed people even if they are chatty just about shuts me down to twitching.

We moved to a place once where the military and police swarmed the neighbourhood, not just for sweeps of drug nests and Hell’s Angels but just gadding about getting coffee and a smoke. It was exposure therapy. I’m not so fearful of military uniforms as I was.

Moving to downtown was sensory overload. There was no more skiing straight out the back door into the forest or going for a walk naked or spending weeks not seeing a stranger. There was that profusion of noise and scents.

My life in the city nearly 25 years ago became activity rather than trying to be in a constant state or prayer and communion with god and nature. I was subsumed in learning about people and assessing what was lost and gained in this culture shock.

Maybe that analysis is what I was always doing. Maybe it doesn’t descend from fear but towards love. Maybe when I’m stressed I go towards beauty.

I found a note from when I was about 10 years old. Mom had taken me to a big toy store and asked me what I wanted. I spent a long time in one aisle.

Mom took that as interest in dolls (finally! yay, maybe she *is* a girl) but I had pulled out my notebook and stubby pencil.

See, the claim in big colours was that each doll was unique. That didn’t seem possible. I wrote down all the variables in a column. Yellow hair, red hair, black hair, bald. Blue eyes, brown eyes, green eyes, this size, that size (there were two). There were repeating patterns of clothes and skin fabrics. The heads were all the same mould in two sizes.

When I got home I made a grid and not knowing how to do the math elsewise I added all the numbers and circled the conclusion of exactly how many variations of dolls there were, disproving the advertising. How satisfying. How defying the being deceived.

Again, I didn’t get a calculator or science set for Christmas, but another doll. Ah well.

The advantage of setting your own choices is that you can buy your own science set and not rely on anyone else to fulfil.

Every day has the same number of hours as Mother Teresa was given. That seems an unfair comparison. She didn’t exactly have to make living wage did she? She was set up living with communal living so life maintenance costs for time were different. No pets, no partner but god, and no kids, she was free to sport her time with anyone in the world.

Every choice has an impact on the past. It recolors. Every choice is incremental. All progress is directed in millimeters. That’s the curse of travelling. What is a vacation really when where ever you go, there you are, writing day and night. How to widen perspective and just absorb without parsing until the new makes its own parsing. To get somewhere new you have to cover a lot of distance.

What to do with my countable hours. What to value and how to perceive changes the world. Change your story, change your world, change yourself.

Change yourself and you change permissions others give themselves. Change your story and you see other futures.

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