Some days thoughts gurgle in my head the way a not-quite-right meal does in my stomach. Bits and pieces in are there and they’re not playing well together. Yeah, I could take something. But the best remedy is just to wait. Wait. Things eventually settle. I just have to endure the discomfort.
When this happens, it’s usually because I have a great many factors present and all affecting each other. Also, these factors are behaving badly – more like unruly kindergarteners than like the well-mannered jigsaw puzzle pieces I’d prefer. “Get organized now, everyone, and put yourselves together! I need to be able to see the picture you’re making. I can’t make sense of it while you’re all running around, willy-nilly like that!” Of course, they don’t listen. They continue to rumble around inside me and create discomfort.
So it happens that I’m out of sorts. Sometimes depressed. Most often, tired. All I want to do is close my eyes and bypass the discomfort with unconsciousness. Blessed sleep. I don’t talk to people. If I did, I’d blurt out a lot of random puzzle pieces that make no sense to anyone, let alone to me. And then I’m embarrassed by the gobbledygook I just spewed on my friend or family member. (My sisters get this a lot, poor things.) I try to tuck away somewhere private and endure.
I do take some comfort from the knowledge that I’m about to put something big together. The advantage of having lived this long is that with some simple self-observation, I’m getting to recognize certain repetitive phenomena. And I recognize this one. Lots of stuff, rumbling around, creating mental indigestion. Ugh, that hurts. But what to DO?
“Right”, I tell myself. “Wait. Remember, wait. Things will eventually settle.”
This has been one of those days.
Luckily, I had the ability to step out of work, go home and retreat to my bed. In my fortress of comfort, I tried to sleep, generally felt shitty, and wished I could fall asleep. I KNEW there was rumbling. “Okay”, I told myself, “It’s just that thing that happens. There’s nothing wrong. It’s just doing what it does. Ride it out, ya big baby!” Unfortunately, when this process is going on, my conscious mind is of absolutely no help. All it can do is pick up individual thoughts and examine them like the puzzle pieces they are. It turns them this way and that. Surely this one fits with that one over there? Or if I switch these two around and remove this one, it will make something, yes? Right? Conscious mind keeps at it, over and over. Oh, and feels shitty that it can’t figure out what to do with the damned things. If I let it, it will go on like this endlessly. To no avail. My conscious, rational mind is entirely incapable of doing anything productive with puzzle pieces.
But all is not lost! Turns out there’s another part of me that’s a tried and true puzzle master (though sometimes I forget to ask it for help): my subconscious. How did it become so adept? I have no idea. It doesn’t talk to me. All kinds of interesting stuff must go on down there. Collecting, observing, sifting, constructing. Hell, it’s probably built an entire automobile, for all I know. And if I want to get anywhere — if I want to ease the current pain — there’s only one course of action. First, slap conscious mind’s grubby paws away from those unruly, rumbling thoughts. “Put those down! No touch!” Next, distract the conscious mind with something new and shiny. “Look! Pretty landscape! A movie! Some friends making you laugh!” Then, sweep pesky thoughts to the side while conscious mind is distracted and hope like hell that my subconscious picks them up. “Help me, Obi-wan Subconscious. You’re my only hope!”
Unable to sleep and feeling like complete shit, I drag myself out of bed two hours later. I grouse about how annoying winter is — as I’ve got far fewer opportunities to walk the dogs. Shorter days. Less light. And they need to walk. I need to walk too, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s easy to ignore my needs when I feel like shit. Not so easy to ignore the needs of those good natured, ever-loving-of-me, furry housemates. So up I get. Shoes, fleece, hat, leashes. And we head out.
I blink at the annoyingly bright sun, low on the horizon. At this hour, I didn’t expect to want sunglasses. Oh well. I trudge on. I’m lucky to have such amazing open space nearby. The dogs run, sniff, chase rabbits, pull cholla spines out of their feet. (Well, one can do it. The other is hopeless and looks at me with panic every time he steps on a goathead. I don’t often take him out for the longer, free-range walks. He’s older and frankly, not very smart. But here I am, talking about my dogs. I digress.)
I’m walking, walking, walking. I’m looking at stuff. I’m thinking about my shins. I’m noticing the low sunlight on millions of curly-cue gamma grass heads. I keep an eye out for mountain bikes so my off-leash nutter of a rescue dog doesn’t bark at and scare an unsuspecting rider. Walk, walk, walk. Then, out of nowhere, I realize the projector inside my head has been playing a film. I refocus my attention to the internal screen. Its a film about what the hell’s been going on. Here are the characters. Here is the plot. This is how they all come together and here’s the story. It really does have a theme. And everything is related in just this way. Get it? See it yet?
What? Wait a minute!
YES! Obi-wan Subconscious has caught the ball and run with it! Subconscious mind pulls off another incredible feat of insight! 2 – 4 – 6 – 8… who do I appreciate? Subconscious! Subconscious! Yaaaaaaay, subconscious!
Whew! I feel better now. Must remember to call on Obi-wan rather than sleep next time I’m feeling this kind of discomfort. Well, maybe Obi-wan AND sleep. I love sleep.