Greetings. This might come off as a bit oddball... but then, I'm on the right website if so, right?
Yesterday I decided to conduct a personal psychological self-experiment. Or if you prefer, you might also easily consider it a spiritual experiment. I
decided to force myself to behave in ways, think in the manner, and engage in the activities, that I would have when I was much younger. I wanted to
see, assuming I was capable of really immersing myself in it, whether or not it would have a positive (or negative) impact on my perceptions,
thoughts, and feelings about the world and life in general.
Here are some of the things I tried.
When I was much younger, I used to keep a journal. I still do from time to time in digial form, and I always keep a dream journal to this day, but for
this experiment I went back to the tried and true method: a pen and a notebook. No typing in a wordpad file for me on this day. I wrote down my
feelings, thoughts, and observations - however inane they might seem to me at this age - because in childhood and adolescence every little emotion or
thought seems profound and meaningful; rife with the opportunity for reflection, introspection, and discovery, whether external or internal.
When I was much younger, I wasn't as disillusioned or cynical about my entertainment pursuits. It was much easier to be immersed in, say, a
videogame, regardless of graphical fidelity or even interactivity. (I spent many a rainy afternoon or sleepless night in my adolescence and young
adulthood playing text adventures with not so much as a sprite on the monochrome screen.) So I decided to seek out what seemed widely regarded as a
good game from the last time I can remember being able to enjoy "simpler" games - the late 90s - and settled upon The Longest Journey, an excellent
point and click graphical adventure that I somehow managed to overlook back in the day.
When I was much younger, I would sit for hours upon hours by my window, and simply observe life. The cars passing by, people milling about, and in
particular - when it was an option - the rain. I've always loved the rain and can't stand sunny weather. The rain has always been like a balm that
instantantly soothes all of my Asperger's related anxiety and stimuli overload, evening everything out. As I've gotten older though, while that
effect remains, I lost the true appreciation of the rain on the more personal, internal level that I had in my youth somewhere along the way. So I sat
and watched the morning rainshowers all morning, letting the sounds and textures fill my senses, closing my eyes and feeling the "magical" spirit of
the rain (as I used to call it) I used to back then.
I took a nap around noon which, while studies show is a perfectly normal - and even essential possibly - human behavior, I stopped doing as I got
older because you're expected to only sleep during the night as an adult for whatever reason. The nap was extremely refreshing and made me wonder why
I had ever dispensed with the habit.
I spent some time posing some old action figures into a battle scene. I played my keyboard, and took care to focus on simplicity and touch sense
(ignoring complexity and speed,) which is what I did when I was younger and was just discovering how to play.
Essentially, I spent the day doing and thinking as I would have at the ages of, say, 12 to 18 or so. (I'm going to be 32 soon.) At first it felt
strange. Even embarassing. But after a while I got into it and it became first natural, then invigorating, and finally exhilarating.
Some things I noticed about my thoughts and feelings during this process:
- My emotional response to the news was less like the disillusioned depression I typically experience today, and more like the idealized sadness and
perplexity I had when I was younger.
- Initially, The Longest Journey felt slow paced and boring. But as I stuck with it, and my mind slowed down and began to appreciate subtle details
that as an adult I tend to take for granted due to being accustomed to so many less subtle presentational factors, I began to feel something akin to
Sebastion sitting by the attic window in Neverding Story and reading his book. This feeling of being transported to another world vicariously - not
existing in and playing as a character in another world like most modern games try to make the player feel, but watching a story unfold and affecting
it from outside it - is something I hadn't felt since the late 90s. It was like remembering how to play a song I had forgotten, and like coming home.
With it came other memories of simpler forms of escapism from my youth that I hadn't contemplated in over a decade.
- I found myself more acutely aware of subtle details in real life as well. As you grow up, you get too used to your surroundings (and the details
and minutia of everyday life) to notice any longer the shape of the shadows under the arm chair. Or the nooks between books on the book shelf that are
shaped vaguely like a telephone pole. Or the rainbow colored oil slick under the parked car during the rainstorm that happens to be shaped like a
butterfly. For someone who is constantly overwhelmed by granular details and stimuli, I was shocked to discover just how much even I take for granted
simply because I've become desensitized by age and experience. (Even if some of that taking for granted is in my case a defense mechanism against
aforementioned overwhelming stimuli.)
- I didn't feel disinclined to exert myself physically to the extent that I typically do. Which was both a good thing and a bad thing I have
back issues and get winded easily due to asthma so I don't really need to be bouncing around too much. But I couldn't help but feel more of an
energetic tendency toward activity while in this state of mind. I walked for several hours as opposed to my usual 45 minutes to an hour. My back is
absolutely rebelling against this and punishing me for it today, but it felt good at the time at least.
- I felt substantially less bored and discovered additional patience. And the journaling really helped me see and understand my thoughts in a way -
not necessarily a better way mind you, just a specific way - that I haven't since those years.
All in all, I recommend trying this in whatever fashion would be equivalent for you personally. We all likely did different things during our youth
and have changed to greater or lesser extents since then, or in completely different ways. But it was a very refreshing and pleasant experience that I
am looking forward to repeating habitually. If not constantly.
Give it a try if you like. Peace.