There’s a dullness in me.
At least, I perceive a dullness in me.
It’s there in common social situations. It’s there when I exchange nods with someone on the walking path, negotiate my way through a parking lot, discuss avocados with a cashier as she scans my groceries, or avoid eye contact with neighbors on my way into the house. It’s there on my way into the therapist’s office, and it’s there on my way out. It’s there every time I leave the house.
It’s a sensation of having just missed the mark, every time.
It’s there so consistently that I’m forced to consider a paradox: If it’s there all the time, it could be that it’s not there at all.
Maybe this dullness isn’t dullness. Maybe what I’m experiencing is inflated expectations bumping up against a world that’s real.
What I want, you see, is for every interaction to light up. Even the most mundane. Even the most pedestrian. I want life and inspiration to course through me all the time. I want to embody something. I want to leave every interaction and encounter sure that I’ve improved someone’s day, that I’ve inhabited me and this moment in a way that has rattled others back to life.
I have such a strong philosophical conviction that all we have are everyday pleasures and moments, and that I’m put here to make someone else’s life better, that it’s frustrating to me that my everyday experience of life isn’t that. Missed opportunities at connection abound. Being too much in my head and too much in my fear to seize the moment when it comes is my most common experience. I get in my own way all the time; I watch as it happens.
The dullness I find in me is based on what could be, how I’m measuring up to an ideal in my head, rather than what is or how others around me are going about their lives. The truth is I’m not doing unusually badly; I’m just unusually aware of how badly I’m doing.
If I didn’t have the aspiration, my failure to live up to it wouldn’t bother me. There are people less attentive to others than I am. There are people who do less to make the world a pleasant place than I do. There are people who let more moments slip past them than I do. But if it’s not something they’re conscious of as acutely or as consistently, it’s not something that troubles them as much. It’s the aspiration, the whiff of every possibility as it blows past in the breeze, that haunts me.
The ever-present irony: If it mattered less to me, I might do it better.