Monday, February 12, 2007

Inside My Skin

A bad moment in the break from training. Took a quick drive off base to buy the things I had forgotten to pack. For almost an hour, I was completely inside my skin. It wasn't good.

Does that sound good, like I was truly in touch with my inner self? But my inner self was tired and sore and dehydrated and still sick: it colored everything. Without a connection to the world, without empathy, everything became about me. Everything negative became personal. Compassion was gone. An elderly lady, having trouble telling the difference between a five and a twenty dollar bill is in line in front of me and it is slow, excruciatingly slow. I feel anger building, for no reason. My normal default, my ability to slip into other people's head is gone. I'm a yuppie for an hour, self absorbed and annoyed... and there's a dark under current of really vicious thoughts as well.

No one knows. When I get like this I'm very careful to pay attention to the social details- I smile and make sure it shows in the eyes, my body language is elaborately relaxed... the bad side effect is that it seems to encourage strangers to strike up conversations.

The gas station attendant tells me in exquisite detail about his old car. The guard at the base reminisces about his training experiences... they were nice people. Didn't matter. I couldn't see it.

The concept of "inner child therapy" always bothered me. Children are very selfish. They need to learn about their connection with the world and the value of other people. These aren't innate. Kindness isn't innate. Compassion and empathy and sympathy are skills and they are learned.

For about an hour, for what ever reason and only at a superficial level, I lost the connection. It wasn't a good thing.

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