You ever have really weird things that give you panic attacks?
When I was in elementary school, I was convinced that if I didn’t zip up my pants, wash my hands, and get physically out of the bathroom before the flushing toilet stopped flushing…something dreadfully, terribly, unspeakably horrible would happen to me or my family in the next 24 hours.
We’re not just talking a skinned knee here or there. I was thinking thinks like sudden death, abduction by the mob, stepping on a land mine and other age-appropriate horrors.
When I was in junior high, I had the thought that perhaps everyone around me saw color in a completely different way. I’m not talking just a shade or two lighter or darker than my version of things. I see dark green, you see a slightly darker green. Psh. No.
I thought things like, “What if the color that I think is green, really is someone else’s yellow? But we both call it green because that’s what people told each of us to call that particular color.”
Then it got really crazy. I started wondering if what I saw as transparent, other people saw as purple mist. Or what if what I saw as polka dots, other people saw as stripes?! But we just called them the same things?!?! Then it became:
WHAT IF LANGUAGE MEANS NOTHING BECAUSE OUR SENSES ARE ALL RELATIVE?!?!?!??!
These sorts of early-teen, metaphysical, existential thoughts would suddenly seize me between classes or at the grocery store. I would feel like the universe was about to squish my little brain violently into a blob the color of which I no longer knew a word for because words and colors and thoughts were meaningless (you see?!?!).
It made me want to run away and live in a cave about twice a year.
Now I’m only sneaker-terrified of normal things. Someone taping a needle to a toilet seat I’m about to sit on (what is with me and toilets?). Or, that if I stay in someone’s blind spot for more than .0000002 seconds they’re going to run me off the road and over a cliff. Or, that when I’m hiking out to my research marshes I’ll trip and get impaled by a friendly stick and no one will find me for four days–variations on that theme.