.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Beyond Pandora

Beyond simple curiosity, this is Thinking Too Much. If you're interested in philosophy and/or wild theories, you've come to the right place.

Location: Australia

Paddling somewhere between a mad scientist and an organisational artist. Indecisive, inconsistent and often incoherent.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Random Thoughts: Disconnected

I've recently come back from a trip to my capital city and boy, what a strange time that was! You couldn't really call it a holiday, as we spent most of the time travelling from place to place in order to catch up with various relatives. For someone like me who gets travel sickness (intense nausea and but no throwing up as yet), it was not a fun time.

What did happen, though, was a lot of unexpected thinking.


I spent one day with a friend from school. We arranged to meet in the huge mall in the middle of the city, and I ended up catching a bus into the city and hoping to catch another one out again. Having no knowledge of bus schedules, bus stops, or even any knowledge of the city itself, this was a fairly daunting task. During both trips I wondered how I would know when to get off - which stop was the right one?
Of course, this got me thinking about what I could do if I had gotten off at the wrong stop. Now that I think about it, that particular problem could be easily overcome - if i got off at the wrong stop, I'd wait there for the next bus, and continue on.
No, my real fear was being lost in the city. As I said before, I had no knowledge of the city itself, and very little sense of direction. I do not own a mobile phone - though throughout that day I found myself realising just how handy they could be. If I got lost, my only hope would be to find a payphone somewhere. Well, I could also have gone into strange buildings and/or stopped strange people and asked to use a phone.
I successfully transferred my nerves to other problems for most of the day, but it was later on, in the evening, when I was waiting at a smallish shopping centre for my family to pick me up on the way home, that I felt the most freaked out.

I felt disconnected from everything and everyone I knew. And, physically, I was.
My family were only accessible through a payphone that digested my coins at an alarming rate. Even once I'd called, I knew where they were but not which direction they were (so I couldn't take myself to where they were). I had the small security that they would be coming to get me, but the family members with the car were in a different place to the members with the phone, so I had no idea when this rescue might happen.
I knew few people in the city, and even fewer phone numbers. My home was roughly 600-700 kilometers from the shopping center, as were my friends, my bed, my all-important computer, and the rest of my life as I'd known it.

I panicked in a vague, uncertain way that crept up on me in while wandering through the shopping centre. It simmered while I browsed through a book store, made a purchase and browsed again; it struck first while I was looking at CDs (I would have bought at least two CDs if I hadn't suddenly felt so insecure); I moved quickly outside, sat on a bench and read a hundred pages of the action novel I'd just bought, after which I felt rather giddy and made the call (misjudging the time forty cents would buy me and having to call again) to the family members who lacked the car at that point.
Then my mind went into 'sideways' mode.
I fidgeted out of the book's hold, toyed with my digital camera, took photos of the flagpoles above me (both with and without the flash), and found myself standing on the bench in order to get a better shot of the orange-outlined tree-shadow cast across the carpark. Next I made a guess at the coins in my wallet, hurried through the shopping center trying to find an ATM I'd seen earlier, failed to notice it when I passed as I had become fascinated by the designs on the ceiling, caught a long-forgotten song from the overhead speakers and sang it to myself, located the ATM and withdrew $100, moved to the nearest fast food store and bought some chips, dropped the change while I waited for them, and, on my way back to the phone, was intercepted by my mother in the car.

If I hadn't been fidgeting so much, I would certainly have had some interesting interior monologue. As it was, the thoughts that managed to penetrate to my conscious mind were divided between the terror of having nothing but myself, and the associated unstable exhiliration at the possibility of creating my life and my self anew in this unknown world.

I wish I'd pursued that line of thinking while the experience had me in its hold, instead of pursuing that elusive ATM.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an experience! The panic you felt leaps off the screen at me - well written! I also love the idea of the opportunities lost in that panic.
But here's a tip you had with you the whole time and only partially used: you had a book with you, and we know that if you have a book, you can read yourself into another world where you are safe, anytime, as easily as.... plock, plock

9:40 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home