It’s morning in January. Perhaps around 8:30 am. I woke much earlier as I recall.
I’m sitting in a small diner that exists in an inconsequential town in West Texas.
There is a purpose to this day.
The restaurant is on a street that would be easily forgotten if you blinked while driving to one of the many auto parts stores that seem to spontaneously appear on every other street corner in so many small cities in Texas.
The patrons of the diner are coming and going; quite likely related to church as it is Sunday in the bible belt.
From what I can hear, most of them are talking about about the day, the week and repeating the sound bites from some mindless news channel or what is trending on their social media feed.
I don’t understand why I am here at this moment.
I fade back to the diner.
Children are coughing, sneezing, laughing, crying, playing with their food and generally speaking; being children.
The adults are trying to both monitor their offspring and ignore them at the same time. More importantly hoping they aren’t embarrassed or stabbed by an airborne fork hurled by junior.
That voice that lives inside my conscious whispers to me “Evolution has a sense of humor.” I suppress a smile.
The temperature is cold, probably 36 Fahrenheit; there is a dusty wind blowing outside.
For a January morning this is probably the status quo on my windswept street off of loop 306.
I ordered what I usually do when I am out by myself; two eggs over easy, crispy bacon, crispy hash browns and coffee; two creams and two fake sugars.
I do embrace some habits with a great deal of dedication.
Truth be told, I don’t really even like coffee. It’s just part of the routine.
I embrace the simplicity of my life for some of my more predictable activities. It brings me peace.
The waitress is friendly and smiles at me with that genuine kindness that small towns breathe.
As I lose track of myself I eavesdrop into a few of the conversations.
I listen to the subtle nature of people trying to communicate their thoughts, feelings, needs, aches and pains. I hear so many things, some intended to be heard and some not.
The blurring of the words around me fade in an out as a thought enters my mind.
“What does it mean to be detached?”
I cease the mental processing of the words and sounds around me and wonder if I have ever gone down this road before.
I haven’t, I think I haven’t at least.
I lost many things in the crash of 2015. Memories were some of that loss.
So I press on. It’s Sunday, I don’t have anything else better to do as it turns out.
Maybe it’s just me and no one else feels this. But I don’t think I fit it, nor do I think I ever have.
My inner voice chimes in “Maybe detachment is just that; not fitting in and accepting this fact.”
A thought I have had for more years than I can even remember anymore. I don’t know if there is any truth to this thought. It just resonates from time to time.
I guess that means I don’t fit it. And I’m ok with that. Most of the time at least.
Yet, I never correlated any of this with being detached. That is, the whole fitting in thing.
Mind you this isn’t really a major concern of mine. I don’t think it means I’m broken or for that matter profound in even thinking on the subject.
It’s more of a series of things I contemplate between other less trivial topics.
The voice of sarcasm speak up “Such as, kittens and boobs.” Idiot.
Back to detachment.
It’s the question I focus on. I’m not actually looking for answers.
Which this process is my favorite for introspection.
What I am seeking is more questions that lead me to a larger and likely undiscovered truth.
A truth I may never find, yet I look for it in the ether and the stars of a night sky. I listen for it in the wind and the drifting tides.
My inner monologue interrupts me to say “The exercise in deeper thought is a journey of its own.” I reply to myself “Thanks Rocketansky...”
Since late 2015, it has also been a preoccupation.
Which is good because it used to be an obsession.
In all of these musings I ask myself why I feel so detached from so many things?
When did this start? Does it matter?
This isn’t to say I have a generally negative outlook on life or what I am. Or for that matter where I have been. It is to say I’ve never really felt like I fit in.
I can hear an echo in my head, that voice from the past and future speak to me “But we knew this. All of us.”
That psychological thing that asks if a given trait is caused by nature or nurture of course Intrudes. I ignore it. I’ve heard far too much psycho babble in my life to pontificate it to myself.
Maybe this is just a question masked inside of a statement that doesn’t seem to ever go anywhere.
Perhaps that’s part of being detached. Perhaps fitting in tends to mean you don’t ask these types of questions.
I’m just not really interested in so much of what is around me.
The mundane passage of time through routine events isn’t a thing I have ever wanted to spend energy on.
I fit in enough to survive and fake it. Most people do, in their own way.
And, I think I do so in a healthy way. But I am not the best person to make that judgment.
Part of this is that I don’t want to get involved in other’s drama, bitterness or self-induced turmoil.
I have too many years of my own shit show to dwell on and avoid. I don’t want anyone else’s monkeys or their traveling circus in my life anymore.
It was time to move on a few years ago.
Why did I wait so long to figure this out? To make the necessary change?
Is that bad of me I wonder?
I order another coffee. And sense a fair amount of time has passed. I think an hour or two, perhaps more.
The voice that is a shadow of my soul answered this for me “The journey of rebirth is one of loneliness and self-evaluation. That road must be traveled alone.” I silently agree.
I can hear a few people I know saying “...Well then, you must be an unhappy person...”
Which seems like I should be unhappy if I also think I am detached.
But I’m not.
I derive a strange kind of pleasure watching and listening to people jump to incorrect assumptions about me because they are almost always speaking to their own mirror. Trust me. I have done that.
I can hear myself say “It’s trendy to psycho-analyze others.”
It still doesn’t seem to make much sense; detachment that is.
Maybe some day it will. It doesn’t today. But I am asking to know more. To see more. To experience more. This is a new process for me.
So what is this detachment? How much of this is a self-taught defense mechanism?
As David Byrne once said, “How did I get here...”.
So I followed my questions into more questions. I let my mind fly into the darkness, the light and over the oceans and mountains.
Wondering inside my imagination in those non-sequitur ways has been a blessing and a curse. It does lend itself to creative problem solving.
I ask myself a different question; what is fitting in?
It seems that fitting in requires a great deal of fluid conformity.
I don’t like conformity. It denies the self and the self has a will to survive.
It seems that to fit in you must always sacrifice some piece of yourself into the collective mundane that permeates so much of what we experience.
It seems like to fit in is to give up your free will.
My friendly inner voice chimes in to plagiarize Karl Marx “Conformity is the opiate of the masses...”
I just can’t to that. I have flashbacks to Orwell’s 1984 and cringe for a moment. That just isn’t a thing I can do I reiterate.
Being detached is the willful choice not to conform and you have a reason why you have made this decision.
“I can’t see myself as a conformist...” I say out loud at my empty table in diner. No one heard me.
“That is the last thing I actually want.” I answer internally.
Maybe part of detachment is the choice not to be the proverbial sheep in a herd that perpetually is walking over a cliff. Doing what they are told. Believing what they hear. Taking their soma or drinking the koolaid.
What an awful existence.
Maybe detachment is the choice not to fit in as so many do in the status quo.
Ignorance is bliss, but at least you have friends to join you...
Conformity to a mob mentality represents the opposite of what I’ve always felt.
So back to the formation of detachment.
My version of detachment started long ago. The exact series of events is a story for some other time. Sufficed to say, and so it began.
So detachment became an armor I built around myself.
“That makes sense. Keep going” my internal voice prompts me onward.
Long ago I became good at seeing other people’s intentions. I watched them. I watched the mob. I observed. I remembered.
I listened to everything. I developed patterns I could predict over time. Some of which was to see how things worked. And some was to see who I could trust based on their actions over time compared to their words.
In this sense I never thought being detached was a bad thing.
Later in life some of the by-products would manifest into some very unhealthy relationship attributes. I do have regrets about some of that.
That voice spoke up again, “So many little things built up into larger things.”
It was so easy to burn bridges.
I got older, I made money, I collected material possessions, then more people became interested in me in some oblique manner.
Then the detachment came out. That usually was the beginning of the end of most relationships.
In retrospect. It wasn’t a great decision. It was probably all I knew.
Never let anyone get close.
Never really commit to anything.
Use humor to hide uncertainty. And perhaps pain. Detach, release and fly to a new home.
So much of that just became defense mechanisms.
But I wasn’t really unhappy. Or if I was, I don’t think I was aware of it.
As I aged the detachment became more refined. It developed characteristics and attributes of its own.
In a way it became the default aspect of my personality. I can hear my Canadian friend saying “At times it manifests as quite charming.” I laugh to myself inside the diner.
It’s a learned habit, a self-taught trait. It is a protective shell I put up.
It was where I started. It served me well.
Now the decision is what do I do with it now?
I’ve accepted the idea that I prefer the detached nature of what I am. Just cause less harm to yourself and others perhaps.
“It is probably just a perspective to see what You are, from that camera of objectivity.” That is what the white witch would tell me.
As for now, I have learned how to fade into and out of the collective mind set of where we live.
I can accept the validity of it all now. The desire to push them all away has subsided perhaps.
Parts of it will always remain.
I come to the close of many of these thoughts happier than I would have imagined.
The diner is beginning to fill with the lunch crowd. I’ve had far too much coffee. My waitress left well over and hour ago.
“I can accept me for what I am.” I whisper aloud.
I hadn’t before.
I put away my iPad. I look out to the street and onto the day.
“Accept and be free.” The voice says as I walk outside to my rental car in the small west Texas town off of loop 306 on a cold January afternoon.