Clara's Clearing

Clara's Clearing

What does it mean to have no life?

Saturday, September 03, 2011

What people usually mean by “having no life” is having no time to do what they want. That’s one thing.

Another thing is actually losing a sense of yourself. I’m somebody who feels things best physically. To me a big part of having a sense of myself is the ability to feel movements freely. 

One of the things I was very aware of when my son was a toddler was how every movement I did was interrupted. The natural cycle of movements got broken. Say, when you get up from your seat to go to the kitchen. You get up with a certain momentum, build up a certain speed, cover a particular distance, and finish the cycle of your movement at, say, the refrigerator.

Not so when you have a little kid. When your attention is on the unpredictable movements of a toddler you may be interrupted at any point of the cycle of your movement. Or you may have to slow down or speed up. The natural rhythm of your movement is disrupted, often repeatedly.

Or, remember what it was like to walk down the street with a small child? First of all, you can’t even stand up straight. You are constantly hunched over protectively. You don’t swing your arms like your normally do when you walk. You hold them steady and immovable, usually ahead of you. Then there are all the stop-and-goes.

Taking two steps might take three minutes while the next moment you might have to sprint in full speed to catch the kid before he does something dangerous. The unnaturally slow pace and the stop-and-go is really nerve wracking. Ever been stuck in a really bad traffic jam? That’s what it feels like, except on foot.

I might be particularly aware of this disruption of the natural rhythm of movement but I bet everybody feels the effects of it even if they can’t articulate it. To somebody like me this break in natural motion feels like losing a sense of myself. It feels like my whole lifecycle is constantly intercepted.

Of course the older the kid gets the more your sense of natural movement is restored to you. And when they’re away, at school or something, you go back to your own life and life-motion rhythm. This is one of the reasons that women get accused of being hysterical. It’s not just PMS. It’s the craziness of not being able to make it to the bathroom at the pace you are used to, or need to.

And this is just physical activity. What about mental activity? How many times can you go back to what you were thinking, or trying to figure out, after being interrupted?

Really, ever thought about it? Interruption is a form of torture.


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