My husband is very very (very) nearsighted. Periodically you accidentally move something he’s counting on early morning before he had his glasses on, and he — no longer goes ballistic, but — says “stop moving my cheese.”
This is of course a reference to some manual or other that said we’re like mice racing to the cheese and don’t like it when our cheese is moved. Keep this in mind. the whole post might seem to be about something else but this too is relevant.
The other day we had occasion to drive by the old house, and while I still don’t miss it (Victorians REALLY are a load of work) I realized I missed the neighborhood. I missed the streets I knew, the places I used to go shopping. There was this cranky “I wanna be where everybody knows my name” even though that’s not even remotely true, since this is an urban neighborhood and we had neighbors on the street we didn’t even exchange “hellos” with in 13 years. But there was that longing for the familiar, even the familiar that annoyed, like the little Safeway that never had anything you needed, no way no how.
I found myself driving out of the way to go to the old, pokey, stand in line for hours neighborhood post office.
This has absolutely nothing to do with rationality. It has everything to do with habit in a very physical sense. Because we’re creatures of habit, we like the familiar. yes, even those of us who like to try new things and explore.
There is a ratio there, and if you flip the ratio of old to new, you start getting panicky. There is an actual sense of de-stressing as I immerse myself in familiar places, even those I didn’t like that much. I guess that’s why they say moving is so stressful. Also why, bizarrely, I found that watching people PACK was stressful, while unpacking and seeing my familiar stuff made me feel better.
Also I noticed as I get older, I find that the change I CAN tolerate is a smaller ratio than when I was younger. I could travel more, for instance, and stay away longer before I longed for the familiar.
I don’t think I’m strange. I’ve seen it in other people as well. In fact I probably fal on the low side of the need for ordered and familiar experiences.
This move, and the prospect of another move soonish, though, has me rattled. For a year and a half now, some of my stuff has been packed away, and I can’t find my research books in the expected places.
I found on my last move, when we changed my desk and the wall pictures and everything, that I actually prefer the crappy old, cut from magazine pictures I had on my walls when I started out and I was broke, to the new, art stuff I can buy now. Because the early ones are “How I’ve always worked.”
And that is affecting me in more ways than one, because these last two years have been no-stop change. Not only in houses, but we lost one of our oldest friends, and also older son moved away, to pursue his studies in medicine. Not to far away, in our son’s case, and it’s a good thing, but it’s a huge change in family dynamics and all, particularly as our younger son has very little time for us this year.
I find myself disquieted and … off… and longing for “home” even though our next home might very well end up being a place we haven’t even seen yet. But it will be a place to settle and become familiar with. A place to make into home.
And as I realized the load of subconscious/unconscious/not really logical stress building up, and that I was powerless to stop it, short of moving to a permanent place and settling in, and making it home, I realized the way tech has affected society, too.
It was sort of okay when it was just computers making communications easier. And cell phones are so convenient. Who doesn’t like ease and convenience.
But now the fast communications and the ability to live and work anywhere, and the tech to bypass publishers, and the tech to bypass newspapers, and the tech to bypass stores, and and and and and, are making real and permanent changes to the way we live. A lot of them. Faster ones. We found when looking for a house the first time in 13 years that things had changed completely, even to the sites in which you look.
And I wonder if we’ve flipped the dial on change too far for those who aren’t even particularly addicted to the familiar.
And if that — as well as the crappy economy — explains why we’re all so stressed, out of sorts, filled with apocalyptic feelings that can’t be fully blamed on watching the election season unfold.
Are we a nation of people wondering who moved our cheese?