Talking to Myself and Feeling (less) Old…

Talking to yourself is supposed to be a bad sign.

Hearing voices. Also bad. Talking to yourself suggests a mild neurosis or perhaps improper socialization. Hearing voices in your head talk back to you? Now we’re talking psychosis.

Me? I talk to people that aren’t there.

They talk back. Of course they talk back. What do you think I am, the sort of fool who’d waste time talking to people who don’t answer?

Please.

It goes without saying that I script what they say. Conversations are so much more successful when they’re carefully planned out by a powerful intellect who’s also a master of dialogue.

Oh, and I give them options in what they say. I’ll write a few sets of lines for them, and we’ll try them all out. See which ones work. It’s not free will, but it’s a notch short of total mind control, wouldn’t you say?

Oh, that’s right, you can’t say. I haven’t written you any lines yet.

Why do I talk to people that aren’t there? Because the ones who are there exhaust me. No offense to the people I know. Most of them aren’t even what I’d call “high maintenance.” Most of them. It’s just that I’m usually just out of mental and emotional energy after eight to twelve hours spent around them. They pose intellectual problems. They test my limits. They challenge me.

I need to recharge. I do so by shutting out the outside world for a few minutes and having conversations inside my head, idealized conversations where I control the flow of discussion and argument. Sometimes they’re angry diatribes, sometimes they’re just quiet talks. Sometimes they’re conversations I really need to have with real people, sometimes they’re scenes from stories I’m going to write, or than I’m writing right now.

Ten, fifteen minutes of this can wash away my mental exhaustion.

Some people meditate. I do that too, sometimes. Yoga and meditation are very good for you. They can improve your breathing, lower your blood pressure, reduce the stress that’s eating away at your body.

But the point of meditation is to empty the mind. I’ve read a lot of writings by scholars who’ve studied Eastern wisdom, who talk about Qi and Nirvana and putting aside the mind and the self. And while I see the value in quieting the racing thoughts in my head that the world can instill, I also recognize that those racing thoughts are instilled by the world, not by me. I’m not really sold on the whole “mindless/selfless” aspect of a lot of New Age, Buddhist and liberal Christian philosophy.

My mind is my self. And it’s very important to me. Letting it go, shutting it up, rejecting it… All that sounds like spiritual suicide to me. Why should I want to free myself of the thing that makes me, well, me? If you want to put it in religious terms, why would the creator god demand or desire that I put aside my self in order to connect with Him or Her, when it’s my self that my creator gave me as a lens to view existence?

In the words of Arthur C. Clarke, I have, “in all the universe, found nothing more precious than mind.” I’ll keep mine, thanks. And when it needs a rest, needs to filter out the crap, the grief, and the things around me that it just can’t process, I’d rather let it play than try to shut it up. It’s a bit like raising children. How often did your parents tell you to, “Run and play.” In other words, “Stop bothering me and go amuse yourself!” It’s understandable that they’d do that. Kids can be exhausting, too. But telling a kid to go away and play can be, as many parents have discovered, a recipe for the kid to find a way to get into trouble.

So I don’t tell my mind to run. I just let it play.

So far, it hasn’t complained.

One thought on “Talking to Myself and Feeling (less) Old…

  1. I talk to myself all the time. Mostly as you describe – conversations with others who aren’t there. I often do it when problem solving, prepping for a hard conversation, or simply examining an interesting issue or situation. I try not to do it out loud when walking the halls at work – people don’t get it. I think it is perfectly normal.

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