So, what brings you in today?
I seem to be getting colder and colder, moving farther and farther away from any hope of human connection.
And you see this as a problem?
I do, yes, I do.
So what are you doing to move closer to human connection?
I look and I look and I look for opportunities to connect with other people. Events where someone might see, understand and connect with me,
Sure. That makes sense. How do these work out for you?
I find that I can usually connect with other people, enter their world and offer them something that they value.
That’s great. What is the problem there?
I also find that they have trouble connecting with me, not being able to enter my world and offer me what I need.
Have you considered the idea that you are expecting something that no one else can give you? Are your expectations too much?
Obviously I have considered that idea. I learned a long time ago to be grateful for any crumb or scrap of engagement that I get, to suck everything out of every moment.
Why do you think people have trouble engaging you?
One some level, they think I am a crackpot, too intense and deep for them to engage.
And why would they think that?
I am smart and fast, able to express myself in a way people find overwhelming. Once they become overwhelmed, my communication becomes noise to them, just so much static, so they assume I have gone off the deep end.
What do they do then?
Mostly, they just move on. A few try and help by suggesting I come back to the shallow end where the other people are, that I connect on their terms, but that feels very hard for me.
Do you think you are a crackpot?
I grew up with crackpot. My father was a crackpot engineer, always angry that they didn’t understand what was obvious to him, and my mother was just a crackpot, having trouble getting along with other ladies.
I was trained in crackpot, sure, but the very fact that I can fluidly enter other people’s worlds, understand them and offer useful views, suggestions and information to them tells me that I am not really a crackpot. My crackpot parents could never do that.
Most people, though, are scared of crackpot, avoid it. They want to be one of the gang, not some idiosyncratic iconoclast who speaks ideas that no one else wants to hear. They want to play along to get along, want to feel connected.
I don’t have that same training. I see my following my own path, marching to my own different drummer as honest, valuable and a real honouring of my creator.
So, you don’t fear crackpot, but you still feel isolated and malnourished because people see you as one. Why don’t you just ease up and come “back to the shallow end” as you said?
I have been deep for so long that I feel like I drown in the shallow end. I feel erased, invisible and crippled there.
Do you understand that many people see the kind of intense thought you bring as revealing a kind of anti-social mental disorder?
Yes. I know that. They see me in “Unabomber” territory, putting out reams of manifesto that are just cracked noise and nonsense.
How does that make you feel?
How do you think that makes me feel? I have struggled for decades to be clear, accessible, useful about my own experience of the world and what I have learned from that, working hard to cut way the false and mislead by testing my own thoughts against the best understanding in the world, yet people still write me off as a crackpot because my ideas are too far out of the comfortable norms.
I hate it.
So, what are you going to do about it?
What can I do about it? Cut myself back so that I fit more nicely into the shaped holes that people already have in their mindsets? Truncate and attenuate myself to slide into other people’s expectations? Modulate myself to not upset other people?
Over time, as you develop relationships, they can deepen and grow. We all have to start somewhere, you know.
Right, right, right. Just put on a pretty face and play along until others are so committed that I can expand a bit, show my deeper nature a bit, reveal myself a bit.
That’s a strategy that has never worked for me. At some point, I have to show myself and that is the point that things go boom and people end up slipping away from me. At some point if I can’t reveal, what the hell is the point?
Maybe there is another way for you to be in the world.
Yes, maybe there is. But how do I learn this in a vacuum? How do I shape my expression so that others can accept it more without having others who understand the challenge to give me feedback? Just telling me to “do it” or to “trust” is not useful feedback.
Have you ever considered just accepting being seen as a crackpot and coming to peace with it? Can’t you just be yourself and not care what other people think?
Clearly, that is a big part of my approach to the world. But I am not getting what I need out of that. I am getting colder and colder, moving farther and farther away from any hope of human connection.
And that’s a problem for you?