At some point a person has to decide that he/she is involved in enough activitites in life. This uncomfortable world of overcommitment is where I have been for a while. I’ve come to the realization that my consciousness has limited bandwidth and that intellectual stimulus can overload it in ways that are hard to recognize.
Having been born with lots of curiosity, I find myself piqued by a great variety of things in the universe. The sciency stuff is obvious. But there are other things that can consume much of my capacity for attention. It is much like an addiction to a drug. One soon becomes accustomed to a high baseline level of stimulus. As boredom sets in, the brain seeks greater stimulus. I can’t bear to wait 5 minutes without something to read. Cable television and the internet takes full advantage of this.
Last weekend I found myself totally immersed in the Free Electron Gas theory of metals. As I was wrestling with the math my family was out shopping and having fun. I was having fun as well, but it was of a more cloistered form. Was I being selfish? I think the answer is yes.
So, this life of intellectual pursuit can spin into a solitary life. I like to joke that some days I’m misanthropic and other days I’m very misanthropic. That’s not exactly true, but I will say that my patience for unstimulating conversation is limited. It comes down to the fuzzy boundary between ambition and obsession. It is very easy to slip into a condition that is referred to as eccentric. I can see how it happens. Maybe it is too late.