spelling, time, travel and the meaning of life

spelling is one of those things i have managed to get compulsive about…spelling, grammar, punctuation. i kid myself that my obsession comes from the fact that i work in the field of higher education but the real reason is that i’m insecure, have an alarming lack of self-esteem and i am incredibly adept in the art of worry.

you wouldn’t think this with the lack of capitalization and the overuse of ellipses wouldja? well, i do this on purpose. it has, in a way, become my convention (one that i’m slowly abandoning, but i’ll leave that for another time). years ago, when i first got online, i found the politics list on a “board” at work. after posting awhile, i decided to dispense with caps. i have trouble with shyness and for some reason, typing in lower case made me feel less conspicuous. sure, i could pretend to be doing it out of some strange cosmic connection with ee cummings, but that would be a lie. i quickly realized there were others who did the same thing, but their reasons were different. one man did it because he was a programmer and he wanted everyone to know that. another woman did it because it was for her a sort of artistic expression of defiance. and brni typed in lower case also. after all these years, i admit i don’t know why he typed this way, but it was our first discernible link to each other. maybe he’ll tell me why after he reads this.

i also decided to type as i speak because i was (and still am) very self-conscious of my writing ability. i don’t feel i have a natural talent for it. i agonize over words, sentence structure, spelling mistakes, commas, semi-colons, parenthesis, nested parenthesis, and just exactly when the question mark falls inside or outside the quotation mark. typing as you speak is a great excuse to misspell on purpose…didja, owell, ack, argh, ya’all, whodathunkit, etc. it’s better than artistic license and it makes people think you are savvy in the ways of the internet….one of the “ins” of the internet.

but…

i still have trouble. it’s ok when i misspell on purpose, but only when it’s OBVIOUS that it’s on purpose. when it just happens…when it’s a mistake, i feel like crawling into a hole and not even peeking out to see who noticed. it’s not so bad when there’s an editing function as with livejournal, but omygod, if i send off an email and there’s a spelling mistake, or godforbid a mistake in grammar, i feel that i should send off an apology… an errata…and in fact, i’m sorry to say, i have done so.

so…

i am actively trying to remove this anal aspect from my personality, and not just about spelling. years ago it was all about time. i was always worried about being on-time and with the advent of digital clocks, things got totally out of hand. i was making myself and my family insane with worries of being late, not just by mere hours or minutes, but by seconds!

well…

this couldn’t go on. i had to find a way to stop this. so, i devised a way to ween myself off of time. i began by removing my wristwatch on the weekends. no time-checking while not at work. this was MY time and it was important to just let time flow naturally without the artificial segmentation of it into hours, minutes, seconds, nanoseconds. and when the battery went dead i didn’t replace it. instead, i dug out my old wind-up watch and wore that at work. the watch was old-fashioned with roman numerals instead of arabic numbers and there was no second hand. i liked hearing the tick tock and knowing that when it was first wound up, it would count time faster, slowing down throughout the day until it stopped counting time altogether. for some reason, that was comforting. soon, i began saying things like, o, it’s about half past 8 instead of it’s 8:28 pm.

later, i started forgetting to wind the watch on mondays. then i started actively forgetting it on other days until i stopped wearing the watch altogether. ahhh…this was nice. time was free to move on it’s own without help from me.

but…

even though i’m not wearing a watch on my body anymore, i still obsess about being late. i plan and plot out all sorts of things when i’m getting ready to take a trip…what time to get up, how much stuff to have packed and ready the night before, the day before, the week before. it goes on until i have to mentally bitch-slap myself out of it. to overcome this problem, i have instituted a method of inaction. i do not physically pack anything until the last minute (granted, my last minute is probably 12 hours before anyone else’s last minute, but hey, this is a process!). so, all the planning is going on behind the cranium, but the actual physical manifestation of getting ready just sort of floats out there in front of my third eye, palpable but untouched until compulsion loosens its death-grip around my throat. oyeah, this is all really really visceral for me. we are not talking philosophy here.

and then there is the problem of getting lost. planning must always factor in getting lost time. multiple maps and directions from various sources (mapquest, yahoo, AAA, better world club) are imperative to minimize getting lost time. still, a system must be in place to compute lost minutes-to-distance ratio. this usually results in showing up early which can be just as problematic, but much easier to deal with than being late. if you’re early you can simply pull over and sit for however many minutes it takes until you are on time.

but it really is getting better and i really am beginning to relax about time and being prepared for every little thing that could possibly happen on the way to wherever.

(and btw, i’m not at all convinced that time is linear, so obsessing over the minute by minute management of it might well be a a colossal waste of time, which makes this whole thing rather silly, no?)

so, back to spelling…

new rule: unless it’s for publication, i refuse to use spell checkers and i’m trying extremely hard to stay away from online dictionaries. it’s hard, but…spelling is not the measure of the quality of a thought, idea or opinion. a misplaced, dropped or transposed letter does not change the meaning of the thing. typos do not define the worth of a human being.

o, but even this is a problem. i hate rules and here i am making them so that i can live without them. heh. i’m sick of rules ruling my life, my actions, my very thoughts. why do we have so many rules? what are we afraid of? spontaneity? creativity? originality? mistakes? oyeah, baby! mistakes! not fitting in! BEING OUT THERE FOR ALL TO SEE AND DOING IT WRONG!

ack…

turns out, this is the easiest of all my obsessions to get rid of. i hate rules so much that i find a sweet, subversive delight in ignoring them. not breaking them so much, just paying them no-nevermind.

it might just be the fact that i’m getting older. i just don’t see the point in all the structure anymore. as gravity is breaking down my physical structure…bringing me literally (at least parts of me) closer to the earth, the source…grounding me…i find i have little time to indulge in these pointless obsessions. they are becoming mere annoyances and i’m becoming a bit more casual about many things. my interests are turning to broader things in nature, fluid things, invisible things, things with no straight edges or right angles. i’m hoping that one day all the lines will bend, angles will soften and i will become so careless about the everyday stuff in my everyday life that time will stretch forever and the meaning of life will reveal itself freely, without boundaries or rules to inhibit the joy of it all.

or maybe not.
who needs meaning anyway?
just let it be…

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2 responses to “spelling, time, travel and the meaning of life

  • Anonymous

    >>i’m hoping that one day all the lines will bend, angles will soften and >>i will become so careless about the everyday stuff in my everyday life >>that time will stretch forever and the meaning of life will reveal >>itself freely, without boundaries or rules to inhibit the joy of it all.
    Amen to that, sister!
    As for spelling … your writing casts a spell all its own 🙂
    Gravity may be pulling down our bodies … but our spirits are learning to soar!
    Love.
    –Barbara

    Like

  • brni

    you don’t know why i type in lower case?
    *sigh*

    Like

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