Today I went to Ikea with a friend to help, logistically, with the purchase of some furniture (well, quite a bit of furniture actually, which is why my presence was useful) when I had a little insight.
Walking back towards the car, I started to feel alleviated – something more than just the relief of having accomplished the task at hand.
Then I remembered that when I was a little kid and my parents would take me to places (a museum, shopping, whatever) I would often, though not always, become inexplicably tired and somewhat cranky.
Today I realized how my increased sense of well-being and those childhood experiences were connected. I have a mild form of people-claustrophobia.
Being in an enclosed space, jostling with lots of people, or simply being in a large area where I can see a lot of people tends to wear me down a little. It's like my brain begins to go haywire trying to absorb the details of each individual, but there's too many, and after a while it gives up with a disgruntled sigh of dissatisfaction at what it self-perceives as incompetent processing abilities. Like a kind of psychological squint, where you try to resolve a multi-pixel image into its individual constituents, but only end up with a foggy blur instead and then just become fed up at the impossibility of the enterprise.
That also explains why my mind would wander more, perhaps, than some of my seven and eight and nine-year old friends', whenever we were in a crowded place (shopping mall, etc), and it's probably the reason I'm quite comfortable spending wholesome chunks of time on my own. And I'm sure this is all connected to my being writer in various straightforward and not-so-straightforward ways, too.