19 December 2008

Thinking Time

I have had a lot of time lately to think. In fact, it is the first time in my life that I have had this much time to do nothing but sit and think. See, at home, and even while traveling – I am a time occupier. I like to always be doing stuff when I'm alone– reading usually, or watching TV or a movie, talking on the phone, sightseeing etc. Not that I obsessively fill my time - I do relax. But it involves a magazine, or at the very least poking at one of my cats until it wakes up and reciprocates affection. I NEVER sit in silence and just....sit there. In fact, the very idea makes me feel fidgetty and irritated. When we were teenagers, I would ask Heppy “Whatcha doin?” and when she would reply “just sitting here smoking” I would be like “ok – obviously you've lost your mind – I'm coming over.”

Now I know why for all these years I have been avoiding doing nothing. See, when I am busy with a task I am often thinking about something else on a mental “back burner” letting an idea stew away and become fully formed. Sometimes my ability to think about 2 things at once crosses into my conversations, in a manner that my mum's BFF calls “Jessica Doublespeak.” It is my one thing. My thing I am better at than other people. It is forming opinions, and then expounding on them.

On this trip, I have had LONG stretches of time in which there is literally nothing to do but think. I can't read – because the road is too twisty and I'll vomit. I can't watch TV, because its all shreiking Hindi news. I can't talk or write, because everyone is asleep and the lights are off. And I have nothing important to worry over – no work woes, or financial troubles, no friend drama or relationship problems – nothing but minor malaria scares and sari comparison shopping. So my brain – the brain that tends to overthink to begin with – my brain rejoices and starts going at 100 km a minute.

I have thought about absolutely every single moment of my life in the last 2 and a half months. Every friendship ended, every party attended, every outfit worn (that one is good for some cringing.) Every fight has been replayed, and if any of you care to rehash an issue – now is the time, because I have a comeback. It is the weirdest thing – synapses are firing and the strangest memories are coming to the surface. Good ones, yes – but mostly embarrassing ones. I have relived every single uncomfortable moment of the last 15 years and found that for most of them I can now laugh. And for some I feel exactly the way I did when they happened – toe curlingly mortified. (I know you all want me to dish and go into detail – but thats for another blog.)

I also like to mentally compile lists when I have a lot of time to think. Top 5 favourite transgendered characters/people in entertainment. (JD Samson, Franknfurter, Hedwig, Antony, Amanda Lepore. I almost put Austin Scarlet in there, but I think he's just fancy.) Top 5 things I hate about people: lack of humour, no ability to make fun of themselves, close together eyes, too agreeable, no motivation.Top 5 things I love about India: the food, the chaos, the colours, the cows and the blinky lit-up Hindu gods everywhere. Top 5 things I hate about India: the lack of customer service, the irrationality, the attitude toward stray dogs, that there are children begging and a space program in the same country, and Punjabi sweets. I guarantee that if you ask me a top 5 about anything, I will have already thought about it at some point. I probably have in the last 3 months, even....

I met a 61 year old babe (there is no other way to describe this red-haired vixen from Florida) in the Himalayas, and she has been everywhere over the last 40 years. Her passports look like the stuff of dreams. And she said to me “Traveling doubles your lifespan. Time moves slower – life goes slower – when you're traveling.” I get that now.

I guess this is what makes travel what it is. The independance of travel and the experience of other cultures are integral – and I guess only a certain type of person obsessively needs to see every corner of the globe – but it is all this thinking that makes a person different. When people say “you'll grow – you'll change – you'll mature (eep!)” its not because a glimpse of the fucking Eiffel Tower/Taj Mahal/Macchu Pichu is going to impact your brain and make you a better person. Its not going to decide what you want to do with your life, or make you a better friend, or become a sage advice giver. But all that time spent getting to those places - on a bus/train/donkey cart, it certainly will – all that time. Trust me – there is more time than I ever imagined.

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