Autopilot. 

I tend to go on ‘autopilot’ at times; I’ll complete a sequence of events – sometimes fairly elaborate or lengthy – without having any conscious recollection of doing so afterwards. I think we all do that sometimes. I know I’ve had lots of times where I’ve gotten halfway to a destination and didn’t remember driving most of the way, and that doesn’t really bother me, because obviously, everything went fine or I wouldn’t still be on the road. The times it really bothers me is when it’s something that I have no way of proving I didn’t screw up in some sort of catastrophic way, and can’t easily double check… But as long as I follow a pattern, I can usually be pretty confident of what I did even if I don’t remember the specific actions.

I’m really forgetful at times, and I manage this by having routines and rituals to make sure important things don’t get forgotten. As I mentioned above, this works pretty well for me – until something disrupts those routines and rituals. Then chaos ensues.

Without having a pattern (script?) to follow, I miss things, do them out of order, and screw up processes. For the most part, my rituals make logical sense, for instance I need to mix the electrolyte solution I take before I get out my vitamins, because I use the former to swallow the latter, but other times it’s just how it feels ‘right’ to me. I can be really rigid about that, and it sometimes makes my partner crazy, because if she suggests that I could do something a different way I resist, but I can’t really give her a reason why, at least not one that makes sense to her.

Last month we had a huge snow event where we were snowed in for several days, then I had to ride to work with my partner (my car doesn’t have four wheel drive) for several more. It’s a wonder no one found my body strangled in a snowbank, because I made us late every one of those mornings, forgetting things and spilling things, and once, having to hike all the way back up the snowy hill because I forgot my keys and work badge. I have a very specific sequence I normally follow when leaving, to make sure that I have my wallet, phone, keys, and glasses, and if one little thing is changed, it all comes down like a house of cards. 😕

Before things could properly settle down from the weather event (we still have some of that snow almost a month later, by the way!) the holidays were upon us, bringing social obligations, unusual foods at random times of day, and varying waking and bedtimes. I really feel scattered right now. While I appreciated the days off, the complete disruption of my usual schedule was hard on me. I’m looking forward to everything smoothing back out to a more controllable level, to where I can rely on my autopilot to take care of making sure things get done instead of the constant, anxious scrambling and backtracking, struggling to not forget anything I am supposed to be doing.

Featured Image: Close up of a steering-column cruise control switch, with my denim-clad leg below it. Hazy, vignetted filter applied.

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