One of the things that’s always felt good about writing, for me, is the telepathy angle. I can read the mind of anyone who’s ever written; anyone who’s ever read me can read my mind. It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better than “communicating”.
I’m skeptical about communication, mainly because we think it’s happening, or it’s happened, or it’s easy, or that it’s evolved alongside technology. Maybe it is, and has — I just think those are some wild claims.
Attunement, the thing that communication is supposed to facilitate — I’m fond of that. That’s where you try to set your radio dial to the station someone else is broadcasting and feel your way into their perspective, which you wouldn’t do unless you’d decided in advance to take on their best interests as your own in at least some sense.
Ah, that’s it right there. I knew this blog would bring me something good. So, I’m not talking about communication mechanisms like traffic signals and ordering from menus. I’m skeptical about communication because we carry on with it, attuned or not; each others’ best interests at heart or not.
This is not a preachy attempt to say we should take each others’ best interests to heart, willy nilly; au contraire. One thing I’ve discovered about trying to live a more spiritual, ie from-the-inside-out life, is that sensitivity increases and then so does pickiness. And then as pickiness increases, it allows for greater sensitivity, which facilitates greater pickiness, etc. It’s a mutually reinforcing positive feedback process.
Now, writing that, it occurs to me that both “sensitivity” and “pickiness” have negative connotations, even for me, so I’m going to replace them both with “connoisseur”, with only slightly fewer negative connotations.
A connoisseur’s sensibilities aren’t necessarily “offended” by the norm, but they have the ability to distinguish among higher and finer nuances of quality than the average bear, and to obviously prefer them. In fact, I’d define a connoisseur as someone whose above-average ability to prefer is akin to a dog’s above-average ability to hear tones and frequencies that are inaudible for humans. Yeah, I think that works. It’s not a snootiness; it’s greater awareness of a richer spectrum of variables.
Side note: It’s actually never occurred to me, before, but I wonder if our country’s, and certainly my socioeconomic class’s, proud “meat and potatoes” sensibilities prevent us from valuing connoisseurship in areas where it would serve us most. That’s kind of charged for us…because of the Brits with their fucking tea or whatever? Who knows. One of our most blistering insults, here in the US (this is for the benefit of my international readers) is, “You think you’re better than me?” Except you have to say it fast: youthinkyou’rebetterthanme, huh? I mean, people will suffer insults to their mothers all day, but to be accused of thinking ourselves better than [whoever]? That’s some unforgivable shit. We don’t go around with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, urging us to charity or shenanigans, respectively; we go around with, I guess, just like a Jersey guy named Joey, or Tony, on our shoulder, who jeers at us for acting fancy.
Anyway, I’m just going to come out of the closet and say, I think connoisseurship is a good thing, a great thing to cultivate, but obviously not as a means to become a more useless person. Ironically the most useless people, at least arguably, are the ones who refuse to prefer better.
People who refuse to prefer better! What a thought. I mean, we all do it. Contrast causes us to prefer, and then our baseline of self worth regulates how high a fruit we’re willing to reach for, on the tree of preferring.
I could Mandelbrot off in so many directions with that thought, but let’s go back to the idea of attunement (and all of this is still just exposition of the thing I don’t like, communication, as a prelude to exploring the thing I do like, telepathy) — I’ve noticed that my interest in attuning to others, generally, has sharply decreased in recent times, and that’s upset me a little.
I think it’s all part of that same process, though, of remembering to live from the inside-out more often. I accepted on faith that allowing my sensitivity to increase, ie turning the dial up on my feelings rather than down, ie recovery from stoicism, is the path forward. Coping with things is easy and familiar, though fatiguing; the path less traveled requires us to look the world’s Joeys in the eye and admit, “Yes, I do think I’m better than you.” Awkward! It’s hard to watch things, and people, fall away, and to actually know that’s our fault. Life feels so much more virtuous when we cope long enough for change, when it comes, to be someone else’s fault. Becoming more sensitive means tapping out first. Tapping out early. Avoiding the situation altogether, even.
I think that’s why I haven’t wanted to attune as much. It used to be really fun for me, because it felt easy, like that most mysterious and ephemeral of occurrences — sudden rapport with strangers — was some kind of superpower I had, and it was fun to use it, sharpen it, amplify it.
I ran across this amazing relationship coach guy, Jack Butler, in the course of my continual fan-girl consumption of Helena Hart’s content, and he coined just the best, best phrase: the emotionally available unavailable male. This is a male who connects with women deeply, easily, and authentically — he’s just not actually available.
That was me! I was an emotionally available unavailable gal. It was, and sometimes still is, actually difficult for me NOT to form sudden and authentic rapport with strangers, even when I don’t want to, even when I know it’s not in our mutual best interests.
So no, I’m not personally on a mission to improve my communication skills by attuning more deeply with others. And I’m definitely not on a mission to do a better job of coping with the perhaps not entirely preferable nuances of people’s perspectives and personalities. That’s what I’ve been doing this whole time, which results in a really mixed bag and a lot of stuff to low-grade cope with.
The crazy thing about deciding to commit to a more spiritual, ie living-from-the inside-out path, is that you don’t actually know what the side effects of that will be, because if you did, you would have already tackled them intellectually. The cool thing about a commitment to authenticity is that you can finally make gains on your blindspots; if they weren’t blindspots, you would have already optimized them, because you would have been able to see them.
I feel like the above paragraph will make zero sense to most people and a lot of sense to a few people. I’m trying to think how to say it better but I can’t. It’s like: you know what you know, and you know a little of what you don’t know, but you don’t know 100% of what you don’t know you don’t know. But you know who does? God. Or insert your synonym for that here — the organizing principle of consciousness-expansion.
I think that made it worse?
Anyway, communication without attunement isn’t communication, which comprises most of what we sloppily label “communication”; communication with attunement lives up to its name, at least, while comprising very little of what we do when we think we’re communicating; and all of that represents, of course, what naturally occurs when you lock a bunch of animals together in a cage, ie human society.
And all that is to say: ah, telepathy. The telepathy of writing. No wonder it feels like such a relief. My favorite author, Tanith Lee, died in 2015 and I was pissed because I’d always held some private fantasy of meeting her, since I’d spent so much time reading her mind. It might have been a disappointment; how could it not be.
People have been disappointed in meeting me, I know that for a fact. I was slinging fuel at a fire in southern New Mexico one time and apparently the Incident Commander had somehow stumbled upon my YouTube playlist of original music and had been astounded to find that *that* girl was slinging fuel on *his* fire. He immediately drove out to the remote spike camp I was positioned at, with a henchman or two, to meet me, and I was like — whatever. Just this person at the fuel truck, trying to figure out if he wanted to gas up, or if I was in trouble, or like what the fuck was going on. And I do remember that fire as being a particularly bad one for boogers. We all just had boogers in our noses all the time, because it was so dry and there was a lot of smoke in the air, and no one’s nose was happy about it. I think I was wiping my nose the whole time, with my dirty hands. He asked me about my music and I was totally unsure of how I was supposed to talk about that, right then and there, and then they drove away, and I got the distinct impression it had been a letdown. I don’t know. When you’re a polymath or whatever kind of person I am, it’s hard to suddenly switch roles.
So maybe Tanith Lee would have been like that, except probably not. I don’t think she was a polymath. I think she was a fucking relentless writer to the core of her soul, and there wouldn’t have been anything else for her to be, in the moment I met her or any other moment.
So never mind.
But anyway, I like the effortlessness of this message-in-a-bottle telepathy we call writing. I love the way that no one’s hostage to it. We can mind-meld with anyone we like, through words on a page, and disengage just as easily. (You always know someone’s an entrenched introvert when they have disengagement strategies A, B and C lined up.) And one of my favorite things — and I think this is, of all peripheral points, probably the central point of the blog — is “talking” to different people, in my mind.
Which is interesting, right? I’m not lonely. I have a far more rich and supportive home/family environment than most people. Like, name a form of emotional support and satisfaction, and I have it. So, from the confines of that admittedly comfy place — I still love to reach out! Because, mental telepathy via prose! To types of people, if not people themselves. Gosh, like who. Like: Blake, my longtime best friend, since estranged. BoomerX, my best and most interesting blog reader of all time, who is always engaged in writing projects of his own, which I love to hear about. Nick, my boyfriend, because I always read my blogs to him, while we’re driving or otherwise fallow. My brother Abe, who always texts me his favorite quote excerpts, every day. My dad has always loved and supported my writing predilection, but I’ve stopped reading to him so much because he gets really fussy about words he doesn’t hear clearly, and he doesn’t hear a lot of them clearly, so I get too frustrated to read because I’m like “Goddammit just go with it, Dad! Listen to the context!” My grad school office mate, Nick Tambakeras. Greek, sort of an intellectual alpha-ish male, very perceptive, very witty, very disapproving of me last I heard. Actually Leah, a gal who doesn’t see eye to eye with me on some things but that’s okay. Brooke and Patty and Rachel, gals from school I don’t talk to or interact with in any way, but I remember their personas and the ways they react to writing and ideas. Jody, who is trying to get off a spiritual path in order to turn his sensitivity down, whether he’d frame it that way or not. My coworkers at the truck driving school, who made those fucking cold, fucking early mornings out in the parking lot bearable, if not desirable. The world rolls along, having no idea that it’s rolling along because of guys like them. Jesus, what spectacular people. Cary, the New Mexico retired commercial enforcement officer friend who’s become a partner in crime on actually a number of projects, now, and who makes it so easy to be honest and stay in touch. Diana, my boss who wanted me to take over for her but I moved. What a rascal. Jesse, who is my last connection to my beloved photographer John Running, although I’m no longer connected to either; due to death or estrangement. Carrington, the audiobook narrator-slash-singer/songwriter I met, to our mutual amazement, because I’m those things too — also not in touch for a while now. Some Saudi Arabian prince guy I met at a bar one time who totally wanted me to come and visit his dad’s palace in Saudi Arabia and I was trying to convert it into some kind of tax-free government contracting CDL opportunity, but it never worked out because I found my little dog and didn’t want to leave her. That fucking incident commander who was first amazed, and then disappointed, in me. Tanith Lee, who died but hey maybe still around in the ether, and to whom I owe so much of what I understand about the connoisseurship of the written word, whether I’m a good steward of it or not. Todd, my ex-husband, who experienced a crisis of catharsis alongside me and who I’ll always appreciate. My cousin Ray, who always reaches out and stays in touch and I’m such an asshole about getting back but I just love him. Wayne and Loretta, who I’m outraged to not live closer to, except they need to come to Hawaii because I’m def not settling down in SLC. They make me feel so loved. Aaron, my fire season boss whose real passion is inappropriate memes. I really owe my memeing skills to Aaron. Ike, my other fire season boss, who says “Really?,” but pronounces it “Rilly.” Teri, his wife, who was opposed to me and then became my greatest advocate, and I’d love to be better friends if she didn’t live in butt fuck Idaho, and who sort of knows how beautiful she is but has no real idea of it. Shad. Just love Shad — if the world had more of him, the world would be a better place. Bob, 100% business, 100% irreverent, 200% willing to go above and beyond to help, and to be irreverent while helping. Julie, who mixed me my own unicorn roller of essential oils and made me laugh a million times. Haley, utterly different from me, utter connoisseur of the same stuff I am. Geri, the lifelong friend I managed to become estranged with even before all the COVID/BLM stuff. Wade, my favorite musical co-creator ever. Troy, the singular reason we ended up in Hawaii, and who I’d do anything for, to this day and forever. My boyfriend’s family, infinitely interesting to me and probably the vice versa is true. Rich, who reminds me of my power and beauty in a no-bullshit way over and over again, like it’s a given. Rory, whose jokes I finally get like three days later because he’s that fast and nuanced, like a laser. Pam, all business until she met Buffy. Kanoni, obviously amazing but identified by Nick as his personal favorite of the girlfriends he’s met through me. Derek, loose steering when he’s drinking, a man among men when he’s not. Total original, either way, and manages to be oddly poetic in a way that can’t be taught or even explained. Justin. Paul. Jan, the only guy who could keep up with me, let alone challenge me, on metaphysics all these years. Jeff, the seriously nice guy who fucking shreds on stage, omg. Scott, on me and Nick’s side ever since the beginning, when for some reason everyone else took offense. Doug: “Hi Hannah, this is Doug Prall” on my voicemail once every six months; what a guy. Mike Black, who always answers the phone for our shower trailer problems, day or night. Regan, with her beautiful baby girl, who’s hair will always be perfect bc her mom is an insanely gifted stylist. Dean from Libya — “Buffy’s not interesting about that.” Scott C., smartest guy in the room, totally disarming too. My Bravo platoon drill sergeant who got suspended half way through our cycle for hitting the guy who totally deserved it and we all missed you.
That list could perpetuate itself almost endlessly, and stray further and further from a point, which is fine, but — I don’t have any way to honor and acknowledge all of these persons and personas I’ve encountered, but something in me wants to, still, and that impulse feels not entirely separate from the impulse to write. Somehow, it’s connected.
Also, obviously I’m aware that I’ve made myself a bastard stepchild, in the perspectives of quite a few, through my writing. I think that’s extra interesting, because we always have to choose between coherence and resonance to some extent, but usually not the extent of the past year-plus. And I think it makes sense, with the other trends and trajectories going on with me, that I would choose coherence over resonance, pretty much 100% of the time, after having chosen all around in the gray zone between them for most of my life. I’m at peace with that.
So: I’m out of time. And this blog has been crazy abstract. And it’s felt really good to me, because I spent my whole day, beforehand, hammering out the details of our fire season contracting business model with Nick, as best we can at this point, and reaching out to consultant friends who have walked the path before us, brainstorming tons of ideas. Goddamn it’s a lot of variables and opportunities to optimize, or to fail to optimize, with pretty much all our money on the line. What fun.
Maybe more on this later? For now, it’s been a good antidote to the hard engagement of my brain, the other way, in the earlier part of the day