All of them orbit around my head day and night, at their own paces, each one with their own sunsets, their individual low and high tides. I feel like the lamplighter in The Little Prince, who lights and puts out the street lamp on his planet some 1440 times every day.
There is not much time for anything else. As I tend to these overgrown thoughts, all else falls into a corner of neglect and I worry even more.
And that’s the problem isn’t it?
I am unable to dedicate myself wholly to one thing. Worry nags in the back of my mind, creating bumps in a moment that otherwise flows like river-water. I do not allow myself be taken by the moment. There’s just too much going on, too much to worry about. And I feel guilty if I don’t worry. I feel guilty for enjoying myself when I should be working to get things done.
It’s like kissing someone while thinking about someone else.
Evicted out of the present moment, I am neither here nor there. Instead, I watch on the situation, worrying, gnawing at my nails.
I have so much to catch up on that I act like every moment not spent working on my problems is a stolen one. I feel guilty for living in the moment, for not being busy.
And that, that is how I, how we lose inner peace.
By giving worries more rights and power than they deserve.
I mean, I cannot do everything now. There are too many stories, too many people, too many musings and anecdotes and each deserves their rightful share.
After all, how am I supposed to split one second into the many, endless fractions I need? How do I find infinity in what is hopelessly ephemeral?
Quote of the day :
“I would have you consider your judgement and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house.
Surely you would not honour one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.”
—Kahlil Gibran, On Reason and Passion, The Prophet
“At first, overthinking feels almost intelligent, like : “Oh, look at me, my thoughts have thoughts.””
In a number of ways, I’ve found myself already.
The constant flow of “Who am I”s that clashed with my bloodstream has quietened, softened to a dull roar. Like the sound of the ocean in your ear when you place a shell there — it is an echo of something it used to be, something from the past.
I could honestly not fill out a form about what I want to be, though. I couldn’t say where I want the next 5 years to take me. But I could write my name proudly on top of the paper. I don’t know where I’m going or how, but on this solo quest, I at least know who I’m travelling with.
So, I’ve finally discovered who I am, although how much of it is discovery and how much of it is memory is really hard to tell. I think, in a way, it is more of a rediscovery than anything else. Either way, I’m still not able to provide short-cut answers (“I want to be a writer.” or “I want to write a novel.”) or very clear answers at all. My…truths are not easy for me to casually explain. They are still a little muddled, like water that is only now settling after its surface has been disturbed by multiple ricochets. So these…truths come in unusual ways : in musical scores and vocal tremors in songs, very precise bits of writing, insignificant words, wispy feelings, moods and other such nameless things. It is nothing quite concrete, but is still so overwhelmingly potent just for existing. The few moments I can catch are such delights to have, so crisp they are, so startlingly clear.
At this point, if someone asks me who I am, I will just point to a song that speaks to my soul and say : “That is what I am.”. I’m not ashamed of it : I have caught with quite slippery hands the bits and pieces that I am now holding onto. But really, it was easy. Once I let go of the overthinking, the truth rose from the silence and I followed it to the things that matter most.
But who am I kidding, overthinking is the hardest thing at first. Overthinking is a storm in your mind that leaves debris in its wake. It is a man-made disaster, the number one mind-polluter : it turns the place inside out, enshrouds any markers that could guide you back to the places you’ve been before. But not overthinking is also hard in a world that always leaves you guessing whether you are doing things right. Simplicity is not easy. When sophistication is dangled like a bait in front of you, you start asking yourself what is wrong with you for not wanting it. If everyone else is fighting for it, why am I not ?
I used to think simplicity was boring, like it was just the beginning stages of a painting. A bare canvas waiting to be doused in colour. Simplicity is monochrome in a world of splashing colours. It is empty, lacking substance. I only thought that because I never imagined simplicity could come from sophistication. I thought simplicity was plain, unadorned, that blank spaces didn’t belong on a canvas. But that’s not true. Simplicity is focused, calm where overthinking is excessive or scattered. If simplicity is monochrome, then overthinking is like mixing colours : you keep adding touches and dashes of this and that shade, and in the end all you’re left with is a pool of muddled black. Simplicity knows what it is and what is out there and still chooses to be itself.
I’ve learned to do the same. I’m still learning, still struggling to keep it simple and keep it real. At first, overthinking feels almost intelligent, like : “Oh, look at me, my thoughts have thoughts.”.
It feels right because you are weighing in all your options, learning as much as you can about them, double, triple-checking…At one point though, you just turn into a hoarder. You stockpile thoughts and hide behind them like a dragon sleeping under a mountain of gold coins.
Your thoughts have thoughts. Cool, but is any one of them doing anything for you? Or do they all just look pretty in your head ? Simplicity in thought is having a thousand choices and going through the effort of keeping only the right one. Or, at the very least, the one or two that feel the most right of them all.
With some of the debris cleaned up, my journey inward can now be resumed, its paths unclogged, unobstructed. I can begin again to uncover all the wonderful things that give meaning to life, for me.
And again, it’s the simple, not always quiet things. It’s music by people whose artistry I adore. Loud laughter. Fearing nothing but fear itself.
Note : This is an entry for NaNoWriMo Day 2. Also, I realise some parts of this may sound harsh, but I’m mostly talking to myself when I write down things like these, so…
“See, not all thoughts are flowers, not all thoughts bloom. Some thoughts grow tough and gnarly— they are bad ideas, self-destructive seeds that some other voice planted in your brain. “
Not all thoughts are good, I’ve been thinking.
Thoughts may just be like a horse’s hooves, if you don’t trim them, they hurt. If you leave them be, they grow so much that every step is pain until, eventually, all movement stops.
It’s important to look after your thoughts, to groom them as they grow. Some people may say that you are cutting off a part of yourself, but that’s not true. Sometimes, being yourself requires upkeep. See, not all thoughts are flowers, not all thoughts bloom. Some thoughts grow tough and gnarly— they are bad ideas, self-destructive seeds that some other voice planted in your brain. These kinds of thoughts are toxic and demand constant attention. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but if there are many saplings in a single patch of land, then they will all fight to reach the sun. The tougher ones will close in on the tenderer sprouts, suffocating them and burying them alive while they drink up the sun and thrive and thrive and thrive. The same happens to thoughts. So they must be pruned and sheared so that the softer, vulnerable thoughts have a chance to grow.
Weeds will always grow in any garden, whether that be in the one behind your house or the one you keep in your head. But you need only pluck them out and let these tender thoughts breathe again.