Posted by: Xhyra Graf | 19 April 2010

The dangers of being too comfortable

Just think about it...

I was comfortable… too comfortable.  I had looked forward to the week with anticipation and more than a little anxiety but that changed.  The air around me became less crispy soon after I deposited my things in the hotel room.  It’s kind of an amazing thing, as I think about it now.  The same thing happened last year.  Like a weight drops from me and I feel at home – the Zone almost.  Here I can do no wrong.  Here I function optimally.  Here my skills are matched to the task and even if I come upon a difficult spot it’s the kind of challenge that’s welcome.

There were a few disconnect moments when I just did not want to linger around with a drink in my hand but then when I felt that happening again I just didn’t linger around with a drink in my hand – problem solved.  Besides that the flow only noticably paused twice – the first time as I spoke and realized my voice showed signs of strain.  After all, I really don’t like speaking and forgot to bring “The Prof” to the surface.  This is part of being too comfortable. I forgot that I need “The Prof” to make public speaking amenable and since she takes preparation, I had to work my way through the discomfort.  The second time… well, it wasn’t a pause really.  It was another moment of realization.  Much more pure – the experience where a fleeting feeling in the pit of my stomach brought into me into awareness of the experience of evaluating something I did a few moments before. 

+++ I listened and watched, speaking only occasionally.  I was in observation mode – call me a voyeur.  At these times I imagined I could see the truth behind minds working-the expressions and body language merging into the spoken language. I was immersed in being interested in what she was saying.  [Still, I wanted to know and without too much effort knew, most of the time, where exactly my other points of interest were.  If you were watching me, you would probably be able to tell when I needed to realign my periphery of attention with a turn of the head or sweeping the area with my eyes.]  It became a purposeful task to watch her as I spoke, to observe just when the thought or voice or nudge came to her and she told me what ‘they’ needed to tell  me. There was no disppearance of her, just the kind of varied response that might usually occur when a thought occurred to you or you were forming a thought to verbalize it.  There didn’t seem to be an interruption of a thought being “whispered into her ear” from external sources… it seemed as if there was a constant internal stream from which a thought that needed to be expressed came to the surface occasionally. [I’m now trying to remember how Jaynes described the Voices of the Gods – was there a listening or was the direction deeply internal?]

–in all of this, it needs to be understood that I was listening to what she was saying, even interested in the information and sometimes fascinated… I was just additionally interested in an aware way of how she behaved when she gave me certain information–

Anyway… this is a long post.  Why does something that lasts a few seconds take up so much room?

I remember the moments well, as is often the case.  I was comfortable 🙂 slipped down in to the chair, legs stretched and crossed at the ankles in front of me, hands in my pockets.  I had shifted the focus of my attention to the normal periphery and was watching him at the edge of the dancing while listening to her talk and noting that I didn’t see “the girls” around him. [How do you write in detail about simultaneous events? Besides now I realize I have not a clue what we were talking about so the remembering well bit is at bottom a lie.]  I do remember well when he turned around and headed in our general direction, because in response my eyelids lowered like a sleepy cat and my smile both widened and travelled inward [don’t ask me to explain that-don’t know]… we [her and I] were still talking but obviously his movements were what I was focused on since I can’t remember what was being said.  I was still engaged in the conversation because as he got closer, my head dropped back to laugh at something she said and by the time I righted it, he was there in front of us – of me.

He said, “I know you like to dance.”  The pleasurable vibration from the recent laugh reblossomed on a different wavelength.

This will be for me a study in attentional focus because I don’t remember exactly what I said or what he said then or if he said anything since he was obviously asking me to dance [with him!] because his voice had [once again] become a pleasure inducing vibrational entity and was definitely my focus – the actual words receded to the background.

I just remember saying, the deep comfort level surrounding me and reflected [I thought] in my smile, “Not now, maybe later.”

“Oh, Okay” he smiled, I smiled and he turned to walk away.

It was not until the hair had resettled on his shoulders from his turn [whirl] to head in another direction and I [still smiling both outwardly and inwardly] turned to restablish my focus on her, that I got the feeling in the pit of my stomach.*  What had I done?  I know the feeling took me by surprise because I actually slowly breathed out the sentence “Oooh, I think I just did something wrong.” [Should have kept that my inner voice. Those pit of the stomach feelings are so entrenched in the unguarded portion of myself and I had to stop the dam of “fully” responding to her expected question.]

Tooooo…. comfortable.

It’s not that I thought what I said really had much of an effect on him.  The slight shift in his facial expression before the goodbye smile could have been caused by anything from “great, I came over here for nothing” to “um, did she just say no … to me!” to a genuine feeling of disappointment because he wanted to spend some time with me.  The issue is that I was still so comfortable that even after the pit of the stomach flutter, I allowed myself to stay true to the feeling that I didn’t want to dance at that moment even though it might have been a “better” thing to take the time to dance considering my desires and goals.  The problem was that in my general state of being in observation mode combined with the comfortable feeling of being among friends who understood me-I forgot that I wasn’t truly in that place.  I was at a conference [with mostly strangers], specifically the last day of a conference that would not reoccur for another two years.  I should have been falling over myself to fill these last moments up with memories of this person in particular.  But I was very comfortable; comfortable enough to be satisfied with  just being generally aware of where he was and when his attention flitted over or lingered on me – like we were already close friends.  I said “later” [which for all intents and purposes meant “no”] to something that I really, really wanted to do because I was operating under the illusion that I was home and could recapture or replace that moment fairly soon, like I would see these people the next day or the day after – for lunch or dinner or a chat about phenomenal consciousness in between classes or meetings.  [Really, I operated this way for the entire time and didn’t talk to several people I really should have.  Although, I’m sure I was more genuine than I would have been if I approached everyone with an agenda.  That should count for something… but crap, I was supposed to be very directed about my interactions this time and get some stuff done.] +++

So what is this?!  It seems that in some sense I am bemoaning finally living in the present.  Bah! I think too much.  Next time I’ll just make sure the constant periphery of my attention is given more of a central focus.  Sigh, I suppose the underlying issue is not being sure of probability of a next time.

*Pit of the stomach feeling:  This feeling though named such is not really the normal pit of the stomach feeling. [My] Pit of the stomach feelings are not just in the pit of the stomach but possibly centered there.  It’s a whole body feeling as various reactions/emotions run through me.  In this case, it was accompanied by the feeling of a time shift as in the seconds I turned to face her, I also fully experienced his facial expression, recovery and retreat.  [You know some sensations take time to coalesce into an “experience” that you can… think about.]

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