Experience Taking

Losing yourself in a fictional character can affect your real life.

It’s called “Experience Taking” and I’ve been doing it my whole life. In fact I’ve often thought I chose the college I did because I was thinking I’d be Ryan O’Neal finding Ali McGraw hanging out on campus. Not the smartest move but I suppose I could forgive myself for it if I didn’t feel this behavior had asserted itself again and again over time.

Now, seriously, I know when and why Experience Taking happens to people. It happens to me today. I can watch a show (binge watch let’s say) and become possessed of the main character’s traits, or at least my version of them. I think and desire what they do. I feel myself seeing the world from their perspective and sharing their values.

Now this goes away over time, but each time it happens I’m left wondering what is wrong with me that I continually do this? Well, I’ve read a recent article that tells me there is nothing wrong with it, that it is normal. Still, my concern that it is NOT normal is as much a concern to me as anything. That is, I feel that my fear of loss of identity means I’m actually strongly attuned to having a very powerful and set identity. So I’m concerned because I’m not necessarily addressing this reality in myself.

So I’ll try to do that now. Lately, I’ve felt a bit better in some fashions that are close to home. I’ve had some successes that I care about, personal successes, and, as such, I’ve found myself feeling more strident. These stridencies are not necessarily easy to embrace, or let’s say they have not been in the past. I have often found myself being unable to fully embrace my wonts for a variety of reasons culminating in a fear that I will hurt myself in the process of acting out my strident feelings. Lately though… It is as if I am too old to care.

I think, too, I missed a stage in growing up. I refer to what might be called a high school stage when you are convinced of a certain set of precepts in politics or philosophy that you simply KNOW are true. I didn’t get that at that time in my life, as much out of an enforced wisdom from my parents’ divorce and our subsequent economic and emotional dilemmas as out of my own reality of being a fat kid. So when others were wearing head bands and embracing Marxism or what-have-you, I was looking at them with rolled eyes.  I knew they would change one day, yet, I couldn’t help but be a bit jealous at their single-minded pleasure.

This really turned me in the direction of humor. I began to write about my college brethren in a humorous and satirical way, being published in my college paper and professionally and even getting gnoted for my work. I was good. And I was good because I was being truthful to the way I thought. I think one of my favorite moments was getting the ire up of a young woman I knew who was a bit peeved at my take on the girls on campus being so easily swayed by boys telling them they were smart when the boys really had far less cerebral ulterior motives. My role as purveyor of universal and, to her, unpleasant truths upset her. She was possessed of the single-minded belief that I could not be. I enjoyed seeing her twist in those beliefs.

Yet, to this day I remain jealous of her for having them and I feel I lost something not feeling them myself and not enjoying those moments of clarity one might have as a youth embracing dogmas and platitudes and facing each day with their concomitant ease and comfort.

Yet now I think that I DO feel it. But I think what I feel is different, that is I feel something practiced in a way it never was or could have been as a youth. I feel it now in a fashion one might feel marching into a battle one might not survive. I will go down swinging secure that what I feel is right and is me.

Of course maybe that’s what those high school kids felt.

More later…

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