dystopia: one introvert's escapism
Hey you. There are two songs in this post. Play them while you read.
"If you come down to my window/then I'll climb out my window/and we'll get out of reach", the Avett Brothers sing. This is something that has climbed to near the top of my "relationship list" - someone who can help me get out of reach. Out of reach of what, exactly? Not totally sure. It fluctuates. The phone ringing, mostly. The incessant clamor, both real and perceived, generated by other people. One problem with being an INFJ is that you pick up the emotions and thoughts of those around you. This noise can't always be tuned-out, so being by yourself cuts the chatter significantly.
Two books that stand out in my memory are Jean Craighead George's "My Side of the Mountain" (child lives alone in woods, fiction) and Robin Lee Graham's "Dove" (teen sails boat around world solo, true story). Imagine! Operating in the same world we know now, but for all intents and purposes, invisibly. It was tantalizing. All I wanted was to be by myself, the location didn't matter. I don't know what I thought I'd be escaping - it's not like I had a bad childhood, and it's not like I don't enjoy the life I have now. I just wanted more space then. I still want more space now.
We are placed in our vocations and/or communities (family, friends, church, work) by God, for a variety of reasons. You need more than one person for these things to exist, and it is not normal that you are called to be outside of all of these vocations (notable exceptions include John the Baptist, and even that was only for a time), which I need to be reminded of when I think I want to go be a nun alone in a cave. Perhaps I desire complete isolation in part because I rest safely in knowing that it's not ever likely to happen. Would it be totally gratifying? Yep. Right before it became totally horrible. The thing to remember about being the last person alive is that.... you're all you've got.
"Come run away with me, this ain't the world we signed up for", Jason Isbell sings. Maybe this is exactly the world we signed up for, on account of original sin. We can't get away from this, short of death and resurrection. The place I'm picturing in my head doesn't exist here, and I doubt it's what eternity looks like. This is some sort of INFJ idealism: the thought, however deep down, that we could somehow fix the fallen, broken, destroyed things of this world, including ourselves, if it were left up to us. It's sheer arrogance when you stop to think about it, BUT I WANT TO TRY. JUST GIVE ME A CHANCE, I CAN DO THIS, dammit. Nope. That's not how it works.
So while I can't justify sitting around waiting for the apocalypse, failure of the grid, collapse of the government, etc., I am always looking for small ways to get a break from people. I have a board on Pinterest devoted to deserted places and vast sweeps of nature because a timeline and a physical space with very few other people in it seems wildly attractive. You get a different sense of a place when it is empty. Solo cross-country roadtrips - a concept which horrifies the extroverts I know - are easy, and I'm grateful. Attending movies and shows alone? No problem. In fact, these aren't usually as good with company, unless it's someone that has a similar style to you. I worry more with others around. I worry that they're not having a good time, that they might not be enjoying themselves, that they might be tired or have a headache. I can't turn this sensing or caregiving off, so it's a relief to do things by myself EVEN when I'm deeply lonely.
Naturally, if this was actually the post-apocalyptic dystopian landscape I dream about constantly (there are specific recurring geographic themes to my dreams which could merit another post), I wouldn't get to pick the other people in it. As an introvert (which by definition means someone who recharges by spending time alone) and as a curmudgeon (who hates most people), I do still need to spend SOME time with people that I do like. This is a problem specific to introverts in general, and INFJs in particular: we want the deepest connections, or none at all. In seeking those deeper connections, you find yourself alone more often than not. Conversely, the rare person you find that you can tolerate being around runs the risk of being cherished to death. But that's their problem.
In the meantime, if you need me, I'll be in a corner near an exit. Probably scowling, drinking bourbon, and imagining that I'm the only one in the room.