Would you go?

5 11 2012

Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion; bodies at rest, to stay at rest.

Newton’s first law describes the principle of inertia; for a body to change its inertial status, force must be applied.

When I was young, I was a body in motion: my default was Go. A party, a scene, a county fair, anything happening anywhere—go.

Go, go, gotta keep moving, gotta move on.

That worked, for a while, a long while, but as I fled into the molasses of depression, I wound down, and out, and the default shifted. It was a survival tactic: even amidst my self-destructiveness, there were parts of my life I sought to protect. I cannibalized my social and political life in order to feed my intellectual life.

That worked pretty well for graduate school, actually. There was no time, especially in those early years, for anything other than study, so withdrawing from social activity made both emotional and practical sense.

Yet, over a decade past my turning away from self-destruction, and I wonder if it is possible yet again to shift my default. I don’t need the freneticism of my youth, but this quietude is too much like passivity; this quietude has become passivity. It gets in the way of what matters.

I did finally make my way down to the Red Hook Initiative and put in some hours helping people, and since my downtown office will be closed tomorrow, I think I’ll head down there again. But it took me so long to get there, so much talking myself into doing what needed to be done. I hate it when anyone tells me that I think too much—I don’t think it’s possible to think too much—but I do too often think dishonestly, that is, I use my intellect to de-activate myself, to justify that de-activation.

I’ve said before that I am a polar person: I  swing too far in one direction, then too far in the other, and only after blowing past the far points can I make my way towards the center. Perhaps this has been one hella long swing from too much to too little. I’ve gotten used to being a bystander, but perhaps instead of saying This is how I am, I could say, A little push, and I’m on my way.

I don’t have to run and I don’t have to hide; I just need a new default for somewhere in-between.