Intense Moments of Great Permeability

          (Photo from


After a long hiatus, the brooding returns with less theory, more guts.

Listening to the soothing sounds of Tibetan singing bowls coming from YouTube as I write this, it’s weird to notice how different each moment is. I go through so many moods each day, one moment raging and stiff; another moment, relaxed and content. For various reasons, there has been more stiffness than usual lately.

Partly it’s been because my neighbor’s t.v. has been keeping me up at night, and the initial upset caused by that fact has compounded as I have debated with myself whether to say something to her or whether I should try to be “Zen” about it and adapt. The truth is, I’m not good at adapting to things which I have deep-seated feelings about it. I have a deep belief that people should be courteous, that they should consider other people’s comfort, and that I shouldn’t have to ask someone to turn off their sub-woofer after 11pm during the week so I can sleep and be rested for work. Even thinking about it makes me feel tight and angry.

It’s interesting that I have gotten relatively tolerant of street noise from ambulances and late-night revelers. Maybe it’s because I expect that those noises will always be there and I can’t possibly control them (and I could always move). But when the problem is something so specific to one person it’s harder for me to accept. 90% of the problem is that I have expectations about how I will be received by letting her know I have a problem with it. In the past, with other people, I usually get nowhere and just end up feeling angrier that they don’t care. I’m assuming this person may not care and that the problem will not go away. But I could be wrong. And I shouldn’t think of any other alternatives until I speak to her. But if she doesn’t do anything, I may move. I actually would not be moving because of one person. I have often contemplated moving out of NY, into the burbs somewhere; which brings me to the title of this post.

Although my life has gotten so much better in the past year or so, with a new job, new girlfriend, new place, and new city, I have often felt intense moments of great permeability. In fact, despite having many more reasons to feel safe and insulated, I sometimes feel more vulnerable than ever.

New York is not putting up with that shit. It is the anti-soother.

It is a mass of people, filth, snarkiness, and noise, noise, noise (I know, that’s not all it is, but it is also that). From the morning commute – with the squeal of the subway cars arriving, to the musicians, beggars, run-of-the-mill loud people and the herky-jerky driving of yet another train delayed by “traffic up ahead” – to the morning rush – trying to push past people who always move too slow and fuck up the foot-traffic flow (I don’t need to walk that fast, I just want to get to the blessed 24 square feet of cubicle at my job as quickly as possible), to the momentarily relief at sitting down in the warmth of my cube before moving on to the day’s tasks.

Most of all, though, it’s the noise, and the constant feeling of being attacked by the city’s “vibrancy”. It’s interesting that I used that word, vibrancy. On some level, that is what it is. The city is very vibrant. It’s alive and loud, much like an energetic, messy, crying baby. It just occurred to me that perhaps, much like an overwhelmed parent wondering if they will explode the next time their baby cries, I am just not equipped to deal with this city. On days like today, it feels like I could have a nervous breakdown the next time I hear bass thumping from a car outside, or someone screaming in the street, or random explosions coming from my neighbor’s action movie, or someone whistling in the hallway at 12am.

Most likely that will not happen. But I am not ruling it out. And I do get concerned about my overall health, given that the noise or anxious anticipation of noise is keeping me awake and prevents my being well-rested and feeling ready to take on the next day.

Most of all, these feelings make me feel extremely vulnerable. They make me wonder if I am some kind of nutcase. If I am defective in some way. If I am unable to function like a normal human being. Any of which would not be so bad in and of themselves. But they would mean that I can’t live the way many people live. It would mean that in order to function to my fullest potential I would have to not live in a big city, I would have to not live in an apartment. And, maybe, because of these limitations, I would have to get a lower-paying job, and live where there are less interesting people (though much more quiet!) and perhaps not have a relationship because I couldn’t be among the “normal” people, who live just fine in the big city and love it.

I’m not completely convinced I have these limitations, but it sure seems like it often enough. I’m also not sure how much can be done to ameliorate my hyper-sensitive condition. And the scarier thing is watching myself start to doubt even the good and stable things in my life. Feeling permeable to the world makes me distrust my ability to be in a relationship, it makes me doubt my ability to hold down a job (where my most productive and blissful hours are right after everyone goes home and there are no more speaker-phone calls or people shouting from the corner offices) and, in weeks like the recent ones, makes me doubt that it is ever possible to find peace again, anywhere.

That last sentence seems pretty irrational. Yes. It makes me wonder, am I just under-slept? Could be. The worst days of my life have been when I hadn’t been sleeping enough for a few days, combined with unfortunate events. Maybe all of these problems boil down to the simple mechanics of my not having slept enough, and needing to make a real change of lifestyle in order to regain my rest.

Maybe a lifestyle change would improve these feelings but not necessarily ameliorate the latent sense of discomfort I feel being in the world. A sort of low-level anxiety that, though often absent on my better days, seems ever-present when at its apex.

Past experience tells me that my worst and deepest fears are not very real. More like worst-case scenarios my brain likes to imagine – and even fixate on – perhaps to prepare for the worst. So while it is likely that I will not feel like this forever, I do feel like this now. And it”s tough to know how to be when accepting, adapting, and being angry all seem futile.

Maybe it’s like when I got home this evening and the only way to get through the next few minutes was to take off my shoes; one at a time, and give myself to the next thing.

2 comments on “Intense Moments of Great Permeability

  1. Joana Dias says:

    Numa linha de vida diferente encontro-me demasiadas vezes no estado que descreves. A adaptao no , nem nunca ser, fcil, desconfio. Desejo-te pacincia e perseverana. beijo

Talk to me...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s