There may seem a contradiction between the title of this post and the lead picture. Or perhaps not. I look at this picture and see this steady trek across the fields, hugging the small ravine in places only to leave it for a gentler slope up the hill; a wondrous result of meeting the day which doesn’t reveal the deeper effort to not believe my thoughts. It was our first snow shoe trek of the season; in truth, it was our first snow shoe together in years. The day, the sunshine, the acres of crusty snow was a finger-snap, breaking through the trance of anxious misery over a continuously mentally failing mother, ailing cats, and life’s other vagaries. The outcome of that trance has been a heaviness in the seat of both body and mind.
While the heaviness in my seat is a health consideration, I must admit the mental torpor in its cognitive manifestation is what causes me grief. For the most part, my days are filled with assessing situations, negotiating, shifting gears, and trying to stay out of the mind of others. It’s fast-paced, unrelenting, and not for the risk-averse. In contrast and I don’t know if it is cause or effect, in matters of my own well being, I am far more likely to take the slothful path. I could bring that analytic mind to bear on the conundrum of wasting the 2 hours scheduled each day, every day for 15 years to get to the gym. There is a clear predictive equation between my nastiness factor and the sugar content of a morning snack that would benefit from my wisdom about highly processed carbohydrates. The luxury of a meditation room attached to the general offices seems far less seductive that the mantric clicks on Facebook.
I should be clear (making an effort at arousing the analytic mind here) that it’s not about fuzzy thinking. It’s about the unwillingness to consider the alternative to “Meh.” Call it resistance, tentativeness, captive of past and future, it amounts to the same thing. There is a sedating seductiveness to not rising up and taking charge of the direction of our mental life. And the consequences are as debilitating as any physical disease that comes from not dealing with the fat-ladened arteries or the bulging belly.
When we aren’t willing to rouse ourselves to stop the downward or outward spirals of self-defeating thinking or self-abuse, we open the gateways to superstitious thinking. If perceiving reality isn’t likely to soothe our fears, then magic will, says our deluded mind. Unrelated events take on great significance, skies are filled with portents of success or failure, and our actions (which are our only belongings) become caricatures of rituals to keep bad things from happening. Ironically, in the shackled mind the world becomes a scary place – a galaxy far, far scarier than the fear of taking charge of how we think.
Sloth and torpor. Not for the mentally faint of heart.