I took a sociology class in High School.
I had just finished dropping a Psychology course. The professor had instilled this distaste in me for the study of the mind. He talked about who was mad in history and why and it sounded more like an old man’s rant than a serious lesson in psychopathology. I didn’t know much about Psychology, but I knew it wasn’t about that. So I switched to the study of society, the group, the greater collection. And we learned about the behaviors we have when we’re together.
One assignment we had was to observe the way that people moved through a college courtyard. As if timed down to the second, people would pass each other from a variety of angles and yet never run into each other. They would slow down or speed up or slightly adjust their planned course and it was smooth sailing.
I think about that a lot when I’m out walking around and somehow manage to get from point A to point B without walking straight into somebody else. But I think it’s an interesting dance that can be applied to all different kinds of things in life.
For instance: what makes everyone free or busy at a certain time? What makes someone want to talk to you when they’d been too busy to before? There is a noticeable increase or decrease in the availability of the people I know. What is our common factor? It’s not school. That would be too easy. Most of the people who swing in at the same time aren’t in school anymore. They work, maybe, but not at the same place and not doing the same thing.
Some days I reach out hard trying to bump into someone and there’s no one there. Other days I feel like they’re running straight at me, trying to find me, and I’m not even there.
Maybe there is some greater fluidity to social exchange that I’m missing here. Maybe it’s not about availability, but mood. The desire to spend time with another person. Or, as being the common denominator here, the desires to spend time with me.