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Day 285 of Project 365: Brains, compulsions, and public transit.

About ten years ago, my life wasn’t going so well. I had a job and a flat and a car and friends and a relationship, but as with most things, the trappings of a good life are not necessarily a good life.

I dealt with this not-good life involved by letting one of my compulsions, normally kept very closely in check, do whatever the hell it wanted for a while. (At the time I likely justified this to myself by any number of equivocations involving this, at least, not being as “dangerous” as any manner of other self-destructive, expensive, hazardous habits.)

The compulsion? Tracking Muni buses.

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I spied on the buses. I have … let’s just say several notebooks filled with these notes, and when I was in Observation Mode I remember thinking that if I didn’t write all of this down, something bad would happen.

And yet tonight, while rearranging a bookshelf, I opened one of these notebooks and was thoroughly calmed by the presence of these notes. Because I know my brain, I know that I wasn’t really tracking Muni buses. No, instead I was reminding myself in the midst of a horrific relationship that involved significant amounts of gaslighting that there were things that I liked that I could not destroy.

Maybe it should upset me more to write it out like this. It certainly sounds hyperbolic. For my mindset at the time, a dust bowl of reason, it was a reasonable thought. In a way, these notes are tiny reminders I was leaving for my future selves – although all those selves are far in the past now – little breadcrumbs leading me back to a place in my head where it was okay to exist.

Brains are weird. And amazing. And people are resilient, and buses have arbitrary numbers that don’t bolster the spandrels of existence, and you reading this right now proves that things that don’t make sense can make sense.

Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: “Go Slow” by Tei Shi.

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