Was Salvador Dali a Shut-In?

The life of a shut-in takes on a strange flavor.  I feel a little like William Hurt in the old movie Altered States, floating in my sensory deprivation tank.  Everything seems perfectly normal until I rub up against the outside world.

Wednesday my friends brought me to their house for supper and to watch Criminal Minds.  At first, everything seemed homey and familiar—Gracie, their Border Collie whimpered with delight when I came in, spaghetti sauce smelled like spaghetti sauce, furniture rested on the floor the way gravity intended.  But there was this odd thing we did at the dinner table.  Conversation.  What?  And a different channel was showing on the TV.  And Tom started playing his guitar while Scott Pelley relayed the news.  The world started to cant sideways like an old Twilight Zone episode.

Back in the womb of my apartment, the weirdness faded.  Hehehe.  I’m not really a blob of morphing jelly-flesh in a Salvador Dali painting.  Just a little stimulus-deprived.  Yeah, that’s it.

Yesterday, one of the gals from TOPS gave me a ride to the meeting.  What a treat to have all those women fuss over me.  Such a lovely group of friends I’m building there.  But, part-way through the meeting the sound of all those voices talking in a cavernous auditorium crossed a threshold.  Is that what the Plague of Locusts sounded like?  The hot metallic buzzing of billions of tiny, hairy legs rubbing together?  I got a little dizzy.

A person can get used to living alone, can even come to prefer it.  But, too long alone and cocooned by the same music, the same visual stimulus, the same, the same, the same… Well, it messes with the mind.  And my mind doesn’t need any more messiness.  I’m taking back my driving privileges this weekend and getting the hell out of Dodge.

This experience also makes me much more sympathetic to long-term shut-ins.  If you know anyone who can’t get out of the home on their own, think about taking them for a ride.  They might resist.  That deprivation tank expands to encompass the whole world, so stepping outside it is jarring.  But, friends don’t let friends turn into flesh-jelly.

28 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. minlit
    Mar 23, 2012 @ 06:58:50

    I kind of know what you mean. The way I work is kind of isolated. I find myself wondering about people and the lives they live because I know there’s this enormous chasm between their lives and mine. It’s a bit like I’ve forgotten something?


  2. carlarenee45
    Mar 23, 2012 @ 07:29:38

    really good positive post! I am pretty much a hermit who is pretty happy with it. Im noticing that even the nomal things start to get on my nerves though. I say it must be old age or something. I find myself being paranoid in my own yard. Noises, those will always be there, but it seems like people are driving fast and louder down neighborhoods. I am use to having the TV on as background noise but now its like every show that comes on is a reality show. Everyone is yelling and screaming and having nervous breakdowns (fake one at that). Home is getting on my nerves now.lol. what’s next?


  3. littlesundog
    Mar 23, 2012 @ 07:57:49

    I love this post; much to reflect on and ponder. I choose to withdraw from society for the most part. I absolutely dread outings. If I never had to leave this 10 acres I would be happy. My experience has been more about a realization that I have expectations of people, which of course eventually leads to disappointment, and I am let down, then wallow in depression for a while. A wise neighbor lady, who has since passed away, once told me that when she felt sorry for herself or was down in the dumps, she did an act of kindness for another. She knew people were often too busy (her own family) and it was up to her to pull herself out of the dumps. Performing an act of kindness always helped her. I try to do that too. Other times, I grab the camera and take off to the woods, or maybe take a drive, using the camera to find a new perspective to turn my mood around. Writing is also very therapeutic for me. I think a person knows what stimulation they need to get out of the box from time to time.

    I love your final paragraph indicating understanding for those who are unable to get out and help themselves. Just going for a ride and taking in the scenery is such a gift! I have an elderly gentleman friend who I take out now and then… doctor appointments, lunch or dinner, or sometimes just a drive to places he used to know as a young boy. Sometimes I sit with him and he talks about the old days.

    Get the hell out of Dodge and find some great stimulation!! I can’t wait to hear about your outing!


  4. pegoleg
    Mar 23, 2012 @ 09:26:50

    May it make you less jelly-ful to know your entry is a finalist in my writing competition, The Jacket. Congrats! http://pegoleg.wordpress.com/


  5. docrob50
    Mar 23, 2012 @ 09:29:52

    great idea – go for a drive…….and don’t forget to look up often at the stars, clouds, and sky (but not too much while driving)

    and have a great time!


    • Sandy Sue
      Mar 23, 2012 @ 10:29:08

      The horizon is a great place for the eyes.


    • Sandy Sue
      Mar 23, 2012 @ 22:22:54

      Hey, Rob, whatever happened to you showing my posts to your buddhist friend and the therapist (your wife?). I’ve been eagerly awaiting the follow-up.


      • docrob50
        Mar 24, 2012 @ 11:19:04

        my friend left town for awhile and my wife said:

        “I refuse to read your blog – why would i read someone else’s?”

        and since I know now that you are interested i will make more effort on my friend…..my wife, however, is stubborn.

      • Sandy Sue
        Mar 24, 2012 @ 20:38:55

        Goodness, that’s fine. No pissed-off wives, please!
        I’m sure she already has access to your beautiful photographs and wisdom, so why duplicate? I get it.

      • docrob50
        Mar 26, 2012 @ 21:17:32

        on no its not that – she’s a therapist up at the local college and right now all the kids are freakin cuz it’s finals time – so when she reads – she reads fiction.

        Somehow I will get some of your writing and your insights regarding bi-polar dis-orders and the practices of buddhism and your journey before the eyes of someone who might be able to shed more light – just aint gonna be the wife.

      • Sandy Sue
        Mar 27, 2012 @ 04:31:35

        I get it. And I appreciate your support, Rob. The thought alone is light enough.

  6. Trackback: Tell Me About Yourself award « Halfway Between The Gutter And The Stars
  7. patricemj
    Mar 23, 2012 @ 10:05:45

    I like imagining you getting “the hell out of Dodge.” This post makes me want to go on a road trip.


  8. Kathryn McCullough
    Mar 23, 2012 @ 14:30:41

    I totally love your last line. Plus, I can really relate. Being stuck at home alone does strange stuff to the brain. Been there–done that! Yikes.

    Hope you get out of the house this weekend!



  9. ManicMuses
    Mar 25, 2012 @ 04:49:55

    “Everything seems perfectly normal until I rub up against the outside world.” Sooo well put.


  10. strugglingwithbipolar
    Mar 27, 2012 @ 12:34:08

    I have to agree with your conclusion. I have found that being shut-in has caused many problems with my mind. It is good to get out there and be a part of the world. It can be difficult to do. I don’t know any long-term shut-ins, but if I meet one, I’ll be sure to offer to come over and do something to get him/her out of the house!


  11. eremophila
    Mar 28, 2012 @ 22:26:41

    I like the comment from Jules, on http://sofarfromheaven.com/, –
    “I generally like people okay as individuals, I concluded, but dislike them in the composite. I don’t have much in common with groups, but I can almost always find something in common with individuals. So when I meet strangers in town I find I’m able to have friendly, enjoyable exchanges, though brief.”
    Old Jules
    I reckon that encapsulates it well. Mind you, I keep away from town pretty well much most of the time 🙂
    Years ago, a city woman came to spend a few days in my then quiet place in the country. When I took her to the bus station at the end of her visit, she was aghast at the noise in the township – despite it being very early in the day and still waking up. It’s all about what you get used to……


  12. Fork in My Eye
    May 20, 2012 @ 05:43:00

    I know what this feels like too. You described it beautifully.


  13. the secret keeper
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 07:09:59

    yes, i don’t do outside very well. and i am seriously thinking about doing nature photgraphy. need to consult with my therapist. this a new idea from the last 24 hours. i don’t even like to drive to my appts. i do it only if i have my ear buds in with music paying loudly and my shades hiding my eyes. for some reason i feel no one can see me if they can’t see my eyes. then when i am in a waiting room i take out my kindle touch and write poetry. that’s the last wall of protection so no one will approach me, that’s how i cope. plus i try to only have to go out two days a week. otherwse it becomes too much to deal with.


    • Sandy Sue
      Jul 30, 2012 @ 14:14:35

      I’m sure you’ll go over this with your therapist, but there must be a gentle way to approach your photography. Finding a safe place away from other people to practice this. Music is a great cocoon, isn’t it?


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