Psychological Ambush!

Wow, this first weekend without my truck was rough! I mean, I knew this transition was going to take some time to adapt to, but didn’t see this coming. Talking about withdrawal symptoms!

After a lifetime of having a car or truck, some 58 years, and especially in rural, small town South Carolina with no mass transit, much less bike lanes, etc., I was ambushed by my own psyche, my own shit. Loneliness and isolation feelings were the biggest culprits, activating my PANIC neural circuitry.

When the Panic circuit kicks in, it activates the SEEKING neural circuitry, and we start searching for companionship or OTHERS, to fill the void. From and evolutionary perspective, this is all about survival! These two circuitries were critical for our survival–and reproduction, the two primary evolutionary imperatives. If SEEKING can’t find what it needs (read WANTS in this case), depression can set in, or in the worst case the RAGE circuitry, which is associated to our FLIGHT-OR-FIGHT system in our sympathetic nervous system. Again, I write about these important neural circuits in my Guru book.

Not to panic about my PANIC neural circuitry, etc., kicking in though. I knew what was happening up in my old brain. That makes it a little easier to deal with. The circuit doesn’t per se kick you into a panic, but it is a social isolation circuit. It kicks in at various levels, that can range from uncomfortable to panic–the sheer terror we have built into our brains of being too socially isolated. Shame and guilt are also part of this circuit. Think, being banned or exiled from your tribe. In prehistoric times, a nearly sure death sentence. In more modern times, think being excommunicated from your church or kicked out of your country club–oh, the shame of it! Yes, I’m being a little sarcastic here. But these are very real. Evolution thought it important enough to actually build an emotional neural circuit into brains to deal with it, social isolation that is.

On one hand, I’m a hermit. I admit that and relish it. I value my solitude; the simplicity of my life as it continues to evolve in that direction; the absence of conflicts, as long as I don’t have to deal with mental retarded Trumpism, which runs rampant in this area, like COVID, or Christian fundamentalist, I’m good. Ignorance I can tolerate in small doses. I value my self-sufficiency: my wonderful shop, my garden, even my egg producing chickens. I embrace and celebrate my growing eco-centrism (subject of another post I need to write) via my Zen spiritual practice. The latter deepening as my days of solitude nurture it.

On the other hand, even a hermit needs some social options. I have these, but, as my youngest daughter pointed out Sunday as I was down the street visiting her and my two year old granddaughter for some quality social interaction time, “Dad, with the bicycle and no car or truck, you are even more isolated than you usually are.” True, I thought. “Now it’s a hassle if you want to go anywhere outside of right around here,” she continued. True also, I thought. Gees, what’s a poor bicycling hermit to do?

I figured I didn’t drive my truck much anyway and was mostly riding my bike. I’m saving bundles of money without the truck and doing something positive for the environment. As I was walking back home from our visit, I thought, “But wait, remember those two years you only rode a motorcycle when you were an undergrad at UT? Riding those two years had a lot of similarities to what your doing now. Granted, bicycling is a lot slower and a lot of work (peddling). I can remember coming out to get on my motorcycle: making sure I was appropriately dressed for the weather, safety gear, having to carry my books and notes in a briefcase that I strapped to the seat, hoping it wouldn’t rain, or my fingers wouldn’t freeze off in cold weather,… yeah, there were a lot of similarities. Of course, I was 22 then, not 73.

As I walked and thought more, I asks myself, “Self, let’s say you still had your truck, where would you want to go?” “Hmm,” Self says, “I don’t have anywhere…. Well, then, quit whining!” Its true, all those times of having a vehicle, I still didn’t want to go anywhere. It was just knowing that I could, if I did want to. So, this was really what it was all about? I’d taken that option off my proverbial table, and Self didn’t like it; wasn’t happy about it. He’ll get over it. This talking to your Self is something that often happens when you have a lot of solitude I have read.

Memories of riding up the elevator with Prof. Faberge’, you know, the perfume people, and him carrying on a robust conversation with himself–in four different languages! I had to just stick to English. He had an endowed chair via his family’s wealth. I don’t remember him teaching any courses. Actually, I not sure what he did.

Nonetheless, this bicycling thing is a work in progress. I’m hanging tight, Self or no-Self.