The Overthinking Compulsion.

1 09 2006

On my friend Nate’s blog (, he asked his readers recently what idiosyncratic things they couldn’t stand about themselves. For example, Nate doesn’t like the fact that he has to go home first after work before going anywhere else. For him it is a compulsion to go home before going out so he can feel normal. When I responded, I replied that I don’t like that I check my e-mail a million times a day, even when I know I don’t have any, especially when I check my e-mail because I am looking for mail from someone from whom I know I will not hear.

But I forgot to mention in my reply that my biggest character flaw is my overactive imagination coupled with a completely irrational tendancy to overthink things. I mention this today because it has been manifesting itself BIGTIME today in my thinking about my flight.

Let me illustrate why I hate my overactive imagination.

Regardless of the fact that I have a general fear of flying (not a paralyzing fear, mind you, just a fear that makes me feel I have eaten a huge bowl of rice and beans and it will not digest in my stomach and I now feel sick because of it,) I have a bigger fear of “jinxing” myself. So all day, I have been wanting to write about my fear of flying, but have been afraid that, if I come clean with my fear and talk about what I am imagining, I will actually jinx myself and end up crashing.

I can’t help but think, all day long, that the e-mails I have been sending today might be my last, and so I am leaving loving and kind e-mails so that people will remember me fondly. I am not joking about this. I also can’t help but think about that stupid, stupid Alanis Morisette song about things being ironic and about the guy who has a fear of flying and one day he goes on a plane and it crashes. Stupid singer-songwriter; stupid belief in “life imitates art” philosophy. I am imagining the last of my blog entries. And no thanks to the opening scene of “Garden State” which provides a vivid and realistic portrayal of a plane crash and doesn’t help my overactive imagination whatsoever, I am imagining what I will do if something like that actually does happen. (And then it would really be ironic that Garden State is one of my favorite movies and I just watched it and thought about what I would do And here I mean “ironic” in the same way that Alanis Morisette means it. We both mean “coincidental.”) See? Overthinking.

Okay. My fears are out there.

So now what?

Did I just jinx myself? Or did the writing of my fears un-jinx myself? Is it better to sit inside my head with my fears all bunched up in there and causing me stress and a knot in my stomach? Will I be safer if I hold those fears in and don’t share them? Or is it safer to get the fear out there and into the air. But if I talk about it then maybe I am jinxing myself because maybe I was safer holding it in. Psychologists always say, “Get it out. Talk about it.” But if my fear routine has always been to hold it in, am I doing a good thing by talking about it now, or have I just been safe before because I held it in? In which case, why change my routine now? Overthinking x 2.

I have no answer to any of this mess. The only calm I can feel is that which comes in the form of two Tylenol PM pills and a glass of wine with a side order of altitude. And hopefully that will just pass the time until I land either in New York or somewhere else I have already thought of but don’t want to put down in writing just yet.




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