I went for an hourlong walk today. That's not something I do often. The whole time I was reminded pretty heavily of the situations in which I used to take long walks. When I was manic I would walk late at night or even early in the morning, still up from the night before. It cleared my head, and let out some of the energy that builds up. I always felt like the world was more open when I was walking.
When I would get seriously Obsessive Compulsive I ran. I had a few routes I'd run. Things would just get to be too much and I'd put on my running stuff and just run out of the door. It was the only real respite from all of the terrible things I imagined and the strictures of ritual. Even while running some of the stuff that so bothered me during the rest of the day would come up, just not as badly. I would run past trees and imagine them as gallows, and run past cars tensing my fist and imagining the process of slamming my fist through the wing mirror.
Running had less of the rituals, and less of the rules of my every day life. It felt so good to be out. The suburban sprawl still felt somewhat confining, but it was better than my room. I've thought a lot about how a strictly ordered environment, with concrete, and numbered streets, and walls and stoplights effects one's mind.
I don't suppose I would have been saved from the OCD had I stayed in the wilderness, but I don't feel like it would have been quite so bad. I just connect the going mad with leaving the mountains because they occurred in concert. The mountains were a different sort of confining. The social world was small, and the intellectual world even smaller. I felt unfulfilled in many ways. Leaving was good.
The strictures of suburbs may not have been very healthy though. It's a trade off. In order to have the intellectual challenges and opportunities I had to trade that physical freedom and space.
I only lament the loss of the forest when I'm alone. When there aren't people with whom to interact, when I would like to just go on a walk not bordered by houses and sidewalks. When I'm with other people I'm thankful for the density. It's only when by trick of fate or turn of mood I end up alone but energetic. A walk around Davis doesn't fulfil the way a walk through the forest does. I can stop at a bench and write, but I don't feel the same way. Cars pass, and houses are lit up. There are open fields if one goes far enough, but they're flat, and homogenous. Those fields aren't like the meadows of my youth. The house lined streets don't give me a feeling of openness.
I was raised in such a wide open place, that to live in a place with walls and doors and cars and sirens is a big adjustment. I'm stable here, but only with medicines. I'm happy here, but still confined. Of course my father went mad in the mountains. The wide open spaces didn't prevent his madness, just gave a large space for it's expression. He could feel manic and go on a huge hike into the wilderness. He could go wild in the woods rather than running into people and parties and all the things that occur in a college town. I don't think I would have avoided madness by staying in the woods, I just don't know that it would have been as bad if I had space to spread out into.
my dad didn't need medication for some forty years while in the mountains. He was able to live manic, and depressed, and cyclic. He could live out his wild life without confinement. The social structures confine, the world doesn't. It's almost the reverse here. Pavement sprawls endlessly, but people are in all sorts of configurations. I can never burn enough bridges to not have friends somewhere. I'm not one to burn bridges, but it's comforting to know I could. I know so many people, doing so many things. The freedom I once had when I walked out my door now only spreads to intellectual freedom and social freedom.
I won't knock what I have, but I will lament that which I've lost.