Friday, August 15, 2008

Burly Guys Hiding in My Shrubs Make Me Paranoid

An extremely unpleasant woman who I barely know is filing an extremely annoying lawsuit against a third party I don't know at all. And, in order to succeed, she needs my testimony.

So there's a subpoena out there with my name on it, and burly guys have been ringing my doorbell and knocking on my windows for days in their effort to place it in my hands. This morning the knocking and ringing has stopped. It's dawned on them that I'm less than willing to receive their paperwork, and they've resorted to stealth mode.

I look out my window, playing "Where's Waldo?", trying to figure out which bushes they're hiding behind. And while my conscious mind is taking it all in good humor, and is rationally aware of the situation, I feel latent subconscious crevices filling with tiny micro-jolts of paranoia. I do understand that eventually I'll be served this subpoena and be compelled to waste a day giving the most unhelpful possible testimony without perjuring myself. I know that it's only a piece of paper and that there's no actual ill will out there. Yet my stress level is nonetheless up a detectable trace, for no rational reason. How interesting!

I don't usually tend to paranoia; it's not among my issues. My first impulse when finding myself on the receiving end of hostility is to notice how little it hinges on me, personally. Most bad behavior has very little to do with the recipient and everything to do with the inner microclimate of the bad behaver. That's nowhere more obvious than now, an unpleasant situation that's utterly impersonal and which can bring me no harm. Yet the image of burly guys hiding in my bushes clashes with my comforting image of "home sweet home", so my reaction, though very mild, is irrational. Magnify that reaction a thousand times, and I'd be waving guns around (if I owned any). Funny, I never pictured myself as a gun-waver, even after having read everything Hunter Thompson ever wrote!

The various mental illnesses are much more gradual, much more shades-of-grey, than people think. We all have the potential to gravitate toward any of them if circumstance (and, more importantly, our reaction to circumstance) pushes us. One can observe "normal" people experiencing slight whiffs of these mindsets every day. These gutters of our mind's bowling lanes are probably as commonly touched upon - as "normal' - as emotions, which they resemble. Like emotions, these irrational winds are harmless so long as they remain manageably mild. The distinguishing point is the continued functioning of one's internal witness, i.e. the rational faculty to observe and discount one's own irrationality. It would take an awful lot to make me wave a gun around my front yard...but I suppose everyone has their point of no return.

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