Today marks my first full day in Portland, and I feel like there is so much to see and do I'm a bit overwhelmed. Friends and strangers have been generous in suggesting things to see and do. Last night, I got dinner at 'Tasty n Sons' off Williams Ave in NE Portland. The bartender had plenty of suggestions on areas to check out, and suggested I go to Mississippi Studios if I'm interested in live music. So I paid my tab and headed over.
At Mississippi Studios, I struck up some light conversation, but otherwise people-watched and focused on the music. The middle band, Cayetana (https://www.facebook.com/cayetanaphilly/) was excellent. They had songs about mental health and wanting to start anew, both things that resonated with me.
I'm trying to put myself out there and strike up coversation with locals, but at the same time have to acknowledge that the first night in a new place is always rough. It's isolating to leap into the unknown, surrounded by a community that knows itself. However, I will say that Portland is doing its best to penetrate the walls I tend to build. The people seem kind. I find myself having to check my impulse to assume the worst, as people here seem to assume the best in me. There is an openness here that I'm trying to adjust to.
This time spent introspecting always wells up new theories and pseudo-insights into my thoughts and actions. Last night during the performance, I spent time thinking about man's evolution. Man isn't supposed to be alone, we are a social animal. We learned early-on that without the nurture and protection of the group, we'd be eaten or beaten or otherwise defeated. There's a strength in numbers. So after a span of time alone, when I tend to feel depressed and agitated, that's instinct calling. I may yearn for connecton with others because if my ancestors didn't do the same, they'd die. It's human nature.
Another "insight", more personal, is that my anti-social, borderline phobia of people directly correlates to my own insecurities. When I run, eat healthy, meditate, and otherwise feel "myself" and present, I'm much less burdened by this fear of others. I actually tend to reach out to others in times like this, building bridges and connections with people I tend to shun when the reverse is true. If I've ever disappeared from your life, or seemed distant and hard to access, only to suddenly reemerge as if nothing ever happened, this is probably why.
When I'm not taking care of myself, I retreat inwards. I think I might believe so resolutely that I'm without value that I trust that others will feel the same. I play the scenario of casual conversation over in my mind, seeing myself being rejected, and so, I stay in my place. Or, I perceive a scenario where things go smoothly and they want to have conversation, but I freeze or get hung-up and immediately want to pull the ejector seat and get the hell out of there. All of this flies through my mind and there I stand, in the corner, watching everyone else interact.
But as I said, the air and people of Portland are knocking on this wall I've built, and I'm slowly getting more comfortable. Like wading into unknown waters. There was a span of time last month where I was present and comfortable in my own skin. I was able to force myself out into the open with the confidence that once the shock of vulnerability wore off, I'd survive whatever party, group, or individual interaction I was faced with. I need to find that confidence again.
Onwards to see more of this cool city!