When Returning Home is Strange

I have come to an abrupt halt while my internal organs are still in motion. It is in this small window before the adjustment occurs, this lag in the time it takes to jump from one comfort zone to another, where I rediscover something surprising.  I say rediscover because I think I’ve known it before.  Returning home after a trip is strange.  Everything is known and yet unfamiliar.

Why is it that I can look at old things with new eyes?  I see my street, my front paddock, my house, the contents of its rooms as a someone else might do before familiarity floods back.  I know for certain that I’m not fond of tidying and, in my current limbo, I see the truth of this as others must see it.  It’s peculiar and I assume I’m not alone.  I’m extrapolating this phenomenon to include the majority of humans, perhaps because I don’t want to be alone, but mostly it feels like something more broad-based than I, a side-effect of being human or mammal or of being alive.

Was it possible that my eyes were washed clean of familiarity?  There is such a thing as ‘familiarity blindness’ but I’ve found it used when referring to experts who become so attuned to a field they miss what it is a person with less expertise really needs to know.  We’ve all been there when the super-nerd is giving an unintelligible talk and to a layperson.  We are possibly guilty of it ourselves.  But that’s not how I wish to use this term.  I want to borrow it for my own purposes, science be damned!

I’ll go to books and writers armed with my new form of ‘familiarity blindness’ and see if the fit is better there….and it is!

Robert M. Pirsig says,  “(What makes his world so hard to see clearly is not its strangeness, but it’s usualness).  Familiarity can blind you too.”  (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence: An Enquiry into Values.)

It’s possibly not what is intended, but you can see where I’m going with this.  Then there’s this from Julian Barnes, author of A Sense Of An Ending:

The better you know someone, the less well you often see them (and the less well they can therefore be transferred into fiction). They may be so close as to be out of focus, and there is no operating novelist to dispel the blur.

It’s ‘the blur’ I’m interested in because I think that’s the price we pay for familiarity.  Could it be said that there’s more at stake than my inability to see the clutter in my own house?  What if most of our life is a blur?  I feel another crisis coming on!

I don’t desire a change of scenery or exotic experiences. My heart yearns for familiarity, stability, the comfort of home — and my sanity depends on it.
Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas (Odd Thomas, #1)

I feel better already.  I apologise for using this quote out of any context other than my own, but this feels like a truth.  Perhaps, it is.  Our sanity may be tied to our own personal customs.  There are less decisions to make and paradoxically less assumptions about decision-making in general. Not every decision will seem crucial due to a lack of familiarity.  We can prioritise some things as less important because we know them well.  They are old friends.

But what of our search for sharp and perfect vision?  Can we allow it to fall away?  How do we dispel the fog of familiarity?  I have come across the answer.  We take journeys so we can come home with new eyes and do what we can before we acclimatize again.  Be careful though, the window of opportunity is small.  I think I must go tidy my desk, but….nah.  It’s looks fine.

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