“You see, technically, chemistry is the study of matter, but I prefer to see it as the study of change: Electrons change their energy levels. Molecules change their bonds. Elements combine and change into compounds. But that’s all of life, right? It’s the constant, it’s the cycle. It’s solution, dissolution. Just over and over and over. It is growth, then decay, then transformation. It is fascinating, really.” – Walter White/Heisenberg/Bryan Cranston

These sage scientific words spoken by Walter White to a disinterested classroom in the pilot episode of Breaking Bad are, of course, indisputable when used in the context of chemistry, physics and other scientific disciplines.  But I find that the fascination of which he speaks is only something I feel when, and only when I am pondering scientific matters.  Intellectually, I know that it applies to everything: my body, my outlook, my emotions, my experience, my moods, etc.  However, I fear I have oversimplified my life to the point where these facts do not feel experiential to me.

I seem to be shedding people from my life – friends, acquaintances – like a snake sheds its skin.  Ditto for subjects that formerly held great interest for me.  This may be a symptom of depression but more likely, it’s due to a jaded outlook on things that increases by the day.  I’ve never been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, but I do seem to have a limited capacity for lifelong or even extended interest in subjects and activities that used to occupy my mind inordinately.  This is especially true of the varying religious, philosophical and metaphysical study and practices that seemed so important, undeniable and above all interesting for the better part of the past five years.  How do people retain their passion for their various hobbies, beliefs, interests and so forth for a lifetime?  Most people seem to have the capacity to do this.  Not too long ago, had you asked me about my beliefs, I would have replied without hesitation, “I am a Buddhist”.  Then I kept reading more and more Buddhist texts and realized that these sometimes sage authors are prone to contradiction and superstition as much as any of our current “New Age” dabblers who peddle mystical sounding nonsense to the gullible.  That’s not to say that I no longer believe or abide by the tenets of Eastern philosophy; it’s just that the passion is dwindling and with it, the faith.

I’ve never had anything approaching faith, other than faith in good friends and loved ones; and even that sometimes changes over time.  I am perplexed at the myriad people I know who grew up in a particular religious belief, never bothered to question it, and in their now advanced ages, STILL believe it just as devoutly as ever (or at least claim to).  There are SO many possibilities.  Do these people really have no interest in exploring other modes of thought, or are they are afraid that doing so is the equivalent of blasphemy?  Wouldn’t exposure to many viewpoints create a more complete and interesting understanding of humanity in all its forms and various cultures?

As a young teenager, I was a sports fanatic for about 3 or 4 years.  This fanaticism, too, faded fast.  I began to view spectator sports not as entertainment, but as an unnecessary and silly indicator of “manhood” and a way for fat, beer drinking slobs to identify themselves with a team comprised of incredibly talented athletes.  You know the kind: the guys who spend their Sunday afternoons on the sofa eating chips until their team wins the game at which point they often exlaim, “WE DID IT!  We kicked their asses!”  Who the hell is this “we”?  This couch potato did not contribute in any way to “his” team’s victory.  He simply and literally sat there like a loudmouthed lump.  But sure as shit, he’ll be right there again next Sunday, never once losing interest.

I still like music a great deal, though my tastes change frequently.  I suppose that’s something like a constant.  I also still enjoy reading, though the types of books I read also run the gamut from fiction to history to science to philosophy to Archie Comics.

My relationship history also illustrates this point.  I’ve known people who have been married for 50+ years, and others who have dated for a decade or more.
To date, my longest romantic relationship ended at around the four year mark.  It’s just that after a certain amount of time, I feel I’ve learned everything worth knowing about an individual; it doesn’t necessarily mean I no longer like her, I just don’t feel there’s anything more to gain from spending so much time together.

So my question to you, dear reader: do you think this is a symptom of a mind not firing on all cylinders, so to speak?  Do I have an abnormally short attention span? Perhaps you may need to read more of my future posts to see the schizophrenic nature of my interests before you can formulate a strong opinion about that.  I’m just wondering if this is a common human trait that many people deny in order to seem consistent or if my brain is, as I sometimes suspect, truly defective (and to quote George Costanza, “Not that there’s anything WRONG with that!)

Paul Loughman

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