Pleasure, pain, laughter, tears, enthusiasm, boredom, anxiety, disgust, satisfaction, frustration, thirst, nausea, resentment, relief, heartbreak, gratitude, shame, empathy, regret, affection, suspicion, hope, lust, and grief.
It’s impossible to imagine life without such things… so much so that we take them all for granted… in the worst way… by never questioning how or why they consume our time and energy each and every day… for better or worse.
And so I reflect on a lifetime of thought-feelings and feeling-thoughts and I make three illuminating discoveries:
- I don’t seem to choose my thoughts and feelings. They seem to choose me… and take me along for the ride. In other words, I don’t have thoughts and feelings… I am thoughts and feelings.
- There seem to be so many more negative emotions than positive emotions. urthermore, it is so much easier to succumb to the negative than to embrace the positive. Anger and fear, in particular, can be so all-consuming that they seem like the only reality… at the exclusion of all other realities… truth and love included.
- My mind includes a vast and mysterious realm beyond the reach of language and logic. In times of peace, a potential source of hidden wisdom… but in times of danger, real or imagined, a potential source of falsehood, exaggeration, deceit, fabrication, and turmoil… with a seemingly absolute power to take my body, mind, and spirit to places they’d rather not go.
All that said, is there a way to keep my thinkings and feelings honest?
No small task for an organism that gets hungry, scared, sick, tired, and horny… for an organism trapped in a vortex of moods, thoughts, habits, and states of health that conspire as inseparable causes and effects of each other… for an organism that is simply trying to survive the day in a confused and dangerous world.
That sobering reality check aside, I remain hopeful… encouraged by an ineffable something about me… something remarkable… the capacity to question myself… and therefore to know myself… the angel and devil both… and the capacity to love myself enough to want to be better… to want to be more… more than a bundle of animal instincts and conditioned responses… more than a victim of circumstance.
And so, I commit myself to the process of becoming.
How else can I make any claim to freedom and dignity?