peaks and troughs and tweaks and prods

There is a theory of evolution that argues that, rather than evolutionary change happening at a constant rate over a long time, changes happen quickly – remoulding the population at a relatively quick pace – then followed by a long period of stasis. Visualize the path from single-cell organism to human being as a set of stairs rather than a long, sloping ramp. I’ve always thought of the development of one’s self, one’s personality, as analogous to evolution. Certain traits are selected for and developed – education, love, humour – while other traits simply still exist because there was no strong enough force selecting against – neuroses, bitterness, etc. Just like evolution, there is no divinely prescribed endgame. You’re not working towards anything. You die out when you die out. You don’t always get more complex, although that’s the pattern these things tend to follow. But you’re not the same person at the end of your life as at the beginning. And these things just happen fairly randomly. You can’t really control who you are, can you?

I thought of this today, as I thought about my current social attitude. The stepped model of evolution fits me because I seem to go through phases where I am constantly pushing myself out, testing new boundaries, picking up new habits, making new friends, trying new experiences, learning new information. Who parts of who I am, while still part of the same fundamental organism, rapidly mutate. My worldview altered slightly, my perspective newly rooted. After this I fall into a period of stasis, such as the one I am in right now. While, much like the economy, I usually am happier in my growth periods, these personal recessions do give me a chance to hole up and reflect. Like a mental hibernation. I spend a lot of time at home. I read books that are intellectually numbing (Twilight, anyone?) or books that I’ve read a million times (Hitchhiker’s, naturally). I watch films and television that I know and love. I spend time with family, roommates and close friends only. Meet new people? Nah, not today. I’m not in the right frame of mind to try to make someone like me. I’ll just go with the tried and true. The people who beyond all comprehensibility already like me (or at least pretend to). I spend lots of time with my cat.

I retreat into myself. I venture into my own headspace; thinking, reflecting, imagining. Living within my head rather than in the world. Perhaps this is a psychological need to fully sort out everything I’ve absorbed in the last while. Consequently, I get a lot of writing done. All this information, all these emotions, expressions and eccentricities merge together and form new symbolic and allegorical patterns in my mind. I’m an abstract-random thinker, so there’s nothing concrete or systematic about this. I think that’s part of why I write. Reiterating information and feeling as artwork is my way of processing the world. It’s how I deal. I’m in one of those periods now. I don’t know if it is healthy or if I am just trying to rationalize things. Objectively, I know that the better way to live is to grow, to expand, to test new waters. I know that I need balance, though. Mental downtime. I can accept this knowing that this too shall pass. The pure creative output has made this not only worth it, but desired. I’ve been wanting to write this obsessively for months, even years. It’s worth anything. Don’t expect me to be a laugh a minute, but I will come out of this with something to show for it.

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