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William Henry Johnson: The Blind Singer (c 1945)

" … I must befriend myself again …"

I "am" an introvert. This improper way to describe my preference ignores the fact the introversion/extroversion dichotomy does not express identity but preference. I remain capable of both extroverted activities as well as my more native introverted ones. The extroverted efforts seem to take more significant tolls, though. I can always engage as an introvert for extended periods without requiring any mental health break from the activity. I do not remember ever even once needing an extroversion break, where I felt compelled to find someone to spill my guts to so that I could maintain some internal balance. I often, though, flee into any handy old cave to recover from too much interaction, a condition I refer to as ExtroversionPoisoning.

Sometimes, I seem to become altogether too much of this world.
A long week working at The Muse's Fair Booth and marching in her parade platoon left me gulping for more isolated air. I just needed to crawl into my head somewhere I would not be interrupted and wouldn't feel obligated to perform. I became sullen and depressed from too much time repressing my most comfortable self. I felt nothing against anyone else; I just needed some time by myself to recharge my batteries and to rearrange my jumbled brain cells. I desperately needed to accomplish nothing for a change, to putter and poke at a few things while dreaming of much bigger things than my britches.

I inhabit a vibrant world, one much more finely put out than any actual physical one. I mainly inhabit my imagination. Reality remains the sole place to get a decent steak, but I prefer the metaphysical. I revel in imaginary conversations, in the contradictions the physical world can't comprehend. I feel closer to those I think about than I ever feel to anyone physically closer. I feel more satisfied after an evening by myself than I ever feel after going out. My favorite movie's always playing in my head. The best production I've ever heard occurred between my ears. The world seems so far out there that it ultimately always exhausts me to visit there. Lengthy stays seem to almost do away with me. I crawl back into my cave after.

I can hold my breath for remarkable lengths of time. I can sit in the sun until my skin fries. These feats and others just require some discipline. ExtroversionPoisoning seems most like a sunburn to me. My soul seems scorched from overexposure. It's nothing too serious, although repeated exposure feels as though it might carry some dire consequences. I scurry back to my cavern and avoid interaction, sometimes sanguinely and other times much more frantically. I sometimes feel after over-extended exposure that I'm suffocating and can hardly continue breathing. These times alarm me most, for the weight of the world presses down upon my chest, and I simply must find respite. I will decline your invitations then and avoid promising to attend. I will not attempt to be anybody's friend, for I must befriend myself again before I can be anybody else's credible companion.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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