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What, Me Worry?

Fri, Aug 03, 2001 01:18PM -0600

I really, really, really should go outside, but I feel like I have regressed just a bit as of late emotionally , and I kind of wonder if it's the aspartame that I have been imbibing quite liberally as of late.

I thought about it this morning (a crappy stale gray morning, with the look and feel of the warm insides of a used shoe), while enduring a caffeine hangover and suffering from the general lack of sleep: For some reason I can't seem to sustain contentment. After no more than a week, I get all walled up again. I stop believing in things that would make me content, or even happy. And I wonder if it's true.

<out-of-my-ass> They say there's a gene found in humans that makes people more alert than usual. Apparently this was quite useful back in the days of living in caves and having to stay out of the way of huge predators. This gene had obvious implications on the survival of human populations. Unfortunately, it also rendered the individual carrier of this gene insomniac, anxious, and generally unfit to live a normal life.</out-of-my-ass>

So at times like this I wonder. Let's just dub the gene the Worrier gene just for the sake of simplicity. I admit it. I am a worrier. My mother is a worrier, and my sister is a worrier, and I wouldn't be surprised if one of my maternal grandparents was a worrier too.

The symptoms: If something is not for certain, if it is not set in stone, then I fret. I imagine worst-case scenarios. I try not to get wrapped up in best-case scenarios. Expect the worst. Be prepared. That sort of madness. Hence my all-or-nothing type of personality. Either it's true or it ain't. If I don't know, then I will gnaw away at it until I do know. Even if there's really no way I could ever know. My mind is not very good at coping with maybes and perhapses.

Ironically, I did not turn into a Type-A personality. Since my freshman year in college, I have tried to internalize the idea of the Tao, which just happens to go hand in hand with a lot of theoretical physics. Just going with the flow of an inherently uncertain universe seems like the best course of action most of the time. (God, I'm a lazy worrier. How unfortunately paradoxic.) So at times I feel like I'm waging an internal war with myself, worrying but then having to stop myself from worrying, being anxious but fighting to stay calm, emotionally swinging wildly in bipolar directions but realizing that I have to achieve balance.

But this is the reason why I can't stay happy or even content for very long. My doubts multiply at a very rapid clip, and it's hard to keep my self-confidence up. At times like this it seems like my only choices are to go mad or to give up. And despite my proclamations of insanity, I really would prefer not to be crazy.

But there again is that artificial dichotomy thing: this or that, mania or depression, insanity or surrender. Intellectually, I know that extremes do not exist in reality. In normal reality (i.e., not in the vacuum of space, or anything physically weird like that), there is no such thing as absolutely hot or absolutely cold, only things that are hotter than most things, and things that are colder than most things. There is no such thing as absolute beauty nor absolute ugliness. No absolute good nor absolute evil. It's all relative to whatever point of reference you choose, because in reality, everything is mostly homogenous, but human beings can't think that way without going crazy. We've been built to notice the minute differences and to exaggerate them so we can navigate in our world. But I think the Tao got it all right. Light contains darkness, darkness bears light. Dichotomies do not exist for anything. It's all about spectra, a smooth transition from one state to another, and in reality they're really just one state.

Then again, it's easy to intellectually understand something, but quite another to feel it, and as much as I hate to admit it, physiology and neuroscience have taught me that emotions are a better barometer of perception than any cerebral rationalization. Unless you've got some kind of brain lesion, if you're feeling some emotion, there's probably some reason for it, rational or not, and you've got to deal with whatever that reason is, no matter how trifling.

So here I am, having rationalized my way into another infinite circle, with too much time to think, but not enough time to live life. I've got to get away from dichotomous thinking and I've got to stop listening to the shadows that creep in the darkness, whispering doubts into my ears as I sleep, and I've got to truly feel that the universe is as it should be, more or less, and I'll I really need to do is just find my proper path through it.

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