We may have more work to do?…
Of course this year the Holiday Season was going to be different. At the same time, much of the up’s and down’s were familiar, an almost encoded mantra of melancholy-ness. It has occurred to me that most of the holiday seasons I have had for the last twenty years have been similarly spent. Yet, with the responsibilities diminished, the expectations not compounding, this year’s mental “program” was much easier, as well as baffling to witness. The funky-ness began a few weeks ago, and even with my best thinking cannot find where it began, or why? I know I’m not alone in this, it is happening almost across the board in one way or another to a lot of folks, we talk about it. I just happened to get a present that I didn’t plan on when it took off again this year. Some insights into why my best thinking wasn’t connecting, and why it seems so obvious to me now, as compared to before.
I was speaking with my Mother a few weeks ago, it was one of the few times I actually went inside her little house to talk to her since this all started in March. Looking around at the place with my mask still on, It was, like our place, decked out for Christmas. The tree was up, the ornaments were out, and as we were talking it occurred to us that Christmas Eve was in one week. It didn’t feel like it though, none of us have been shopping, knowing that we aren’t going anywhere. Our places were set up though, and I told her that we set ours up because it was like a place marker. Without that display of lights, trees, and ornaments, the year wasn’t complete, it needed to be there for familiarity if nothing else. She somewhat agreed, and it probably meant a lot more than that for her. I saw her 89 year old face light up when I told her about my wife’s stocking, which was my re-used childhood home made stocking that my late sister had put her name on. Yes, it was more to her than just a passing of a year, but of the years. In talking with my brother later on, the same time effect had set in. My mother had said something about time not meaning the same thing anymore, it was just a passing comment. That comment stuck though, and while I found myself agreeing, I also saw that disconnect in a lot of areas of my life, and in a number of people I communicate with.
Trying to practice a better way of life that includes that better way of thinking; It isn’t easily accomplished and the behaviors in thinking that need the most help, also need the most prodding, the most review, and the most updating. Practicing that better thinking leads to a wealth of questions, and a limited supply of answers, but they are there. One of the thought/emotional snags that I saw first was the reason these holidays are so difficult to get through at times. I had had a magical childhood, and those holidays were truly as amazing as the family that created them were. Although we were not a monied family, we made the most out of what we had. In growing older, the realization of what those days meant, and what my parents and family went through to bring it to me became more apparent. That melancholy feeling of wanting those feelings of those perfect holidays was definitely an instigator. The complexities of life set in soon after that wistful glance in the rear view mirror. I could understand that those were the origins of the funk that comes every year, something that I can change if it sets in again. I miss people, family, friends, and those that are not with us any longer, that is also a driver of growing emotionalism. The letting the holiday be what it is going to be thinking has already helped much of that crunchiness. But there was still a question of time, and why it feels so different this time around?
In getting into the patterns and cycles that I myself go through, I am allowed to witness a number of similarities to what others were going through at times. The thinking that we use isn’t always so obvious, it doesn’t tell us that we are being defensive, or shutting off, or it’s actions bring out too much of ourselves. We humans are a fearful species, and as much in life, the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. So our defensive tools are honed to defend against anxieties, and fears, even joys, and desires. In looking into some of these so called defensive mechanisms I have found many that have offensive characteristics. It’s when sometimes combining the two aspects over each other that the pictures become very vivid. The defense mechanisms that come pre-installed, or develop without our understanding are as diverse as the people we are, and the problems we have arise. There is also a number of aspects of personality that come into play here as well, as well as trauma responses, something I think belongs here too. In this collection of tools for better thinking, it is sometimes best to bring along the whole toolbox just in case.
Of course the rabbit holes of self and psychology are difficult areas to work with, and self diagnosis is not something that is exactly healthy. Yet, knowing what you are, how you may react, how it all adds up in your own life is worth a good examination on a fairly regular basis. Good advice, self knowledge, and practices that allow productive changes, are not self diagnosing, but simply awareness. In Freudian psychology there are many defensive mechanisms we develop and use, consciously and not-consciously, which I have said before is very different than the sub-conscious. What does all of this have to do with time, and it being different? Well in short, it is different, and our brains are busy protecting us. How that happens though is the longer trail the insights have led to. The program and practicing call for constant change, to not rest on our laurels, and here is another opportunity to open up the door a bit. Because as much as what we have going for us, we also have a bunch of things that guide us in this life road trip that we may not even know is doing the work.
Our psychology, the manner in which the brain works, is not an exact and open book. It works too fast, too diversely, too covertly, and altogether too much to try to record its clicks and whistles. Without going into the trappings of the reality of time, I will say that the mind can, and does do with it what it pleases. In looking back at my own construction with the tools I have today, I tend to believe more along the lines that the mind and our thinking takes note’s of “hits” traumatic, emotional, joyous, and altering. The “time” the mind goes through is more along the lines of healing and repair. Whether or not the trauma continued, whether or not it included pain, whether physical or existential. Were there periods of healing joy? Was there a sense of security returned to that physical or existential damage? Was there a time of growth, either bodily or mentally? What changes were brought about by these good, bad, indifferent, happenings? Life in chunks, life in a fine mist, life under a rock. That is the type of “time” that the mind goes through. I can tell you from memories, dreams, thoughts, and especially my own bad thinking, that time is just another piece that gets pushed around when it’s trying to make sense of the world. In that I found out a little bit of why it feels so different this time around.
The mind is not a clock. It will manipulate and move anything around it needs to in protecting itself, yourself. It operates under one principle conclusion, make sense of things. To do that making sense, or simply the illusion of it all making sense, it will work overtime, overtly; With so many players and pieces that this modern computer wouldn’t be able to handle all the necessary connections. In times such as these, with society itself taking on new dimensions that time that we programmed ourselves to obey has taken a backseat to the sense making. When I sobered up, when I applied the basic principles of better thinking, the practices of the program, and learned about all the minute thoughts I didn’t need to use at all anymore, I was lost. I remember saying as much to my sponsor. I was lost in the freedom of having the serenity of not thinking, and the room to examine the whole collection. The inputs and outputs that were on full blast for decades had stopped pressing my buttons; It stopped trying to manipulate an expected result. In that same vein is the problem we are experiencing with time, we are not bound by all of the tiny threads, the must do deeds, the fears of deadlines and responsibilities, and in that we are lost. At the same time, the Christmas trees, and decorations, the continued anxieties about being productive, the patternicity of our lives, are still concerned with losing that agenda that brought comfort and sensibility to our daily lives. Just as I was lost in the freedom of a clearer mind, it is being lost in a very primary function that has many folks feeling stuck, lost. The head is asking the constant questions of “Are we going back to that old structure soon?” And “What is the new structure?” It is almost like a cell phone when you are out camping, it will drain its own batteries quickly as it constantly looks for a signal. While many have found the airplane mode, the questions are still being asked.
This rambling road trip into this thought took its own share of time. In researching it more it opened up a number of insights about areas I like to wander into. It showed me areas of introspect that I have the freedom to ponder about. In large part because this adapting to time as it is in the brain has been going on a bit longer for me, I am not as lost as some others. But I do understand that we are collectively going through a change that may prove greater than our efforts to understand it. Society, the pace of life, and the importance of those things in folks own worlds is being fundamentally changed. I hope that the tools to comprehend that change become more apparent and accepted. Life itself is being reminded that it’s not about a time clock, a numbered hour work week, the next self important thing. I don’t think we know it’s ok to change this, to adapt a new pattern, to change the world while the world changes. Simply by minding time…