Monday, July 30, 2012

My Life As a Medical Experiment

    When I say I will do just about anything for money I am usually speaking in vague and suggestive terms but not this weekend.  I was just released from a laboratory after spending the weekend being a willing (and paid) subject in a fatigue study.  I could bore you with the details of the deal but the long and the short of it is that I was paid to stay awake for a really long time and take tests every hour on the hour to help approve or disapprove a shiny new tool for pilots to test their ability to fly.  Although the tests and all that went with them were interesting they are clearly not my take home prize... and neither is the money. 
     If you have met me, you know that I am a people watcher to the core.  I love people. I want to hear their stories, see what they do and learn why they do it.  This experience was a dream come true for someone like me.  We were pre-screened, screened, drug tested, drug tested again and then locked in a lab together for three days.  There were meant to be 4 of us but one backed out literally at the door and so we went on with just three.  We had never met.  We were screened for safety not personality and so it is safe to say just about anything was possible. 
    Over the course of time we shared our stories.  We told the tales and opened up our lives to each other.  We may never meet again but their opinions on family, faith, travel, relationships, politics, government, organics, books, movies, music... the world, will forever be a part of my opinions and decisions on all of them.  A funny thing happens when you are forced to really BE with other humans.  We were allowed to play games and watch movies but whatever we did we had to do together.  There was only one room so you couldn't escape to your own space.  We did not have access to phones, computers, television or outside influences.  We had to be present, awake and together.
    What did I learn?  I learned that when you take away all the tools that we claim "keep us in touch" and "give us access" to each other the intimacy was nearly immediate.  Connecting on a deep level was simple and you could see how hungry, no... starved, for it we all were.  No one was in a hurry or late for the next thing.  No one put you one hold while they took an all important call.  No one used being tired, hungry or having different beliefs or priorities as an excuse to end the conversation.  We were all tired, hungry and had different beliefs and we supported and encouraged each other to stay present.  I really didn't realize how dry and empty my heart is.  I am so lonely for real intimacy and relationship.  So much of my life is spent in rooms full of people who are already gone.  They are already at the next place, the next conversation full of platitudes, the next task or scheduled activity. 
    I can't make anyone ignore their phone.  I can't make anyone value conversation with me more than a good nights sleep.  I can't make anyone get a cramp from laughing instead of putting their iPod in their ears and hitting the gym for their "me" time.  I can't change the speed of the world that I am living in but there are somethings I can do.  I can be there.  I can be present in the moment when I am with you and not look at the clock, phone, iPod, or door.  I can BE PRESENT when I am with you and if you choose to be present with me when you're with me then maybe we can finally get connected, be in touch, have instant access to each other and all those other things that we claim we are doing when what we're really doing is isolating ourselves. 
    Some of you may read this and think "well that was a downer".  Some may read it and scratch you head thinking "I have no idea what she's talking about I can text on the treadmill while my ipod is in and I'm like surrounded by my besties who's lives are also full and satisfying".  Some may read this and think "poor dear...".  What I wonder is, did any of you read this and make a choice to do the same for me.

1 comment:

Girdie Fae Thomas said...

I connect with this...I read this wondering if when I am with people I'm really already gone. I will have to people-watch myself to find out, I guess. I think I escape behind a camera sometimes, snapping photos of happy, connected people, so that I can feel like I'm part of it without feeling the loneliness of not really being part of it.

But I'm wondering about the device you were testing, too! I'm a pilot (it's my living), so I'm curious...who's making it, what does it evaluate, and did it seem to work??