Friday, September 05, 2008

Other People's Lives


Or maybe just this shrink.

I've figured out something about myself: I'm a voyeur, I love having an outside view into the window of other people's lives without participating. In a way, it's sort of what being a psychiatrist is about: we spend all day listening to the things other people have done, the relationships they've been part of, the trips they've taken, the dreams they dream, even the movies they've seen and the books they've read. I spend far more time listening than doing myself and sometimes I feel I'm the master of the vicarious life. Oh, not really.

Running a blog, for example, Shrink Rap, has elements of this. We throw out stories, or ideas, and people write in their thoughts in the comment section. Sometimes they answer each other and sometimes they use the original idea as a springboard to go someplace totally new (Warning: Roy forbids this). I read the comments, I watch it unfold. Sometimes something riles me enough to comment, sometimes a comment inspires a new post, sometimes I feel a need to address a comment or say thanks for a compliment. Mostly I just watch as the next chapter comes in. It's part of why I love reading Fat Doctor, I like sitting back and reading the next chapter of the very colorful life of some person I've never met, never will meet, and still feel some connection to.

Last week, I joined my neighborhood's list-serve. I'm getting maybe 20 emails a day, from people I know or don't, on and on about the most random of things. Our neighborhood has an Obama group. Oops, now we have a McCain group, too. Sarah Palin shoots moose. What to do about incessantly barking dogs, someone found a dead pigeon the other day, Bonnie needs a new microwave, Joan has a large plant to give away, and many people know exactly what you should do with unwanted clothes. And if no one wants that old freezer, Roberto says to donate it to the Goodwill. I wasn't there for it, but I hear people got really inflamed over issues of deer control. I could use a new carpool, and oh, I saw a rat in the alley the other day, but so far, I'm just hanging out watching. I'm not sure I was meant to participate.