I’m losing my mind.
I feel like I want to jump out of my own skin. That's the thought that runs through my brain when I feel overloaded and overstimulated–when I'm plugged in. Keeping up with every little thing that's going on in the world feels like a pressure or tension caving in my skull. It's the first thing I reach for when I wake up, the last thing I look at before I sleep. And yeah, I know it's not good. I'd rather be doing something else, but I can't help but feel that if I disconnect temporarily, I'll miss something. I'll feel alone. But the pressure continues to build. This extension of myself revs up my mind and doesn't stop. It's like I'm looking for something.
One thing that I've started to notice is that whenever I cut myself off from the feed and seek stillness, I find it. And this feeling I was running from, was actually what I was searching for. Life is often exactly as simple as we need it to be. There's nothing complicated about a flowing stream, a crackling fire or a cloudy day. Unless of course, we make it complicated. We can always analyze life, cerebralize it, or theorize about it… but how often do we need to? Are things not also meant to be experienced for what they are, as they are? Because, obviously thinking about things and analyzing reality helps us understand it. But when we live in our heads, it distorts reality. We start looking with our minds instead of our eyes. The mountains don’t care what we think of them.
This quote from G. K. Chesterton has always stuck with me,
It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all. If you're merely a skeptic, you must sooner or later ask yourself the question: “Why should anything go right; even observation and deduction? Why should not good logic be as misleading as bad logic?” They are both movements in the brain of a bewildered ape.
I always thought this quote was pretty funny, but it does a great job of reminding us that what happens inside our brains may not be as sophisticated as we probably think. We tend to celebrate the human mind as the pinnacle of intelligence. Yet, when we spend too much time there, we become anxious and isolated. Why is that? Why is the most common piece of advice that you might hear for someone who's socially anxious, needlessly vengeful, or compulsively conspiratorial, is to “get out of your head.” It's like we all instinctively know that there's a disconnect between reality itself and our interpretation of it. And when we spend too much time untethered from the world, and filter our experiences through references and distortions, isn't it obvious that the resulting effect is disorientation? Is it not obvious that when we plug into sources that profit off stirring up fear and dread, that we would feel more worried and hopeless? I always find this hilarious. It'll be a beautiful day outside–the most peaceful, divine reality before us, but we'll be watching YouTube or scrolling through Twitter. And of course, there will be some world event that usually has nothing to do with us and we'll think, “Man, that's terrible. The world is screwed up.” Then we look out the window at the glorious sun piercing through the clouds over a rolling landscape, and instead of feeling a sense of wonder, awe, or gratitude, we think, “Would I survive a nuclear winter?”
Marcus Aurelius said, that “if you're distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”