I know I’m in trouble when I start staring into midspace. When the contradictions in my mind halt me in the physical environment. Like when I was making my lunch this morning, contemplating why I am the way I am. My tuna sandwich sat flopped open and half made as I gazed into the countertop, not looking, but searching for existential answers.
On some level, I know there are none to be found, especially when one goes looking. But intuitively it’s my only hope at restoring equinimity. There’s a tantalizing prototruth balancing on the next string of logic if I could only trace the thread–or so my desperate efforts would imply.
But in order to find answers the question must be clear. Why am I the way I am is not only a vague proposition, but also a risky concept to unpack. Articulating such a thing may be a mere exercise in confabulation and the resulting story will bear the odor of my present mood. I’m not sure how that aids my orientation, but I press on anyways.
Ultimately, I wish there was no intention to query such things. And I think it’s no coincidence that I mostly do this when the cold tendrils of depression bind me in place: when the darkness seeps in and challenges my core values and the careful narratives that instantiate them.
It’s true that the question why am I the way I am can be rewritten as why do I feel the way I feel without losing a scrap of its lustre. And although it poses a new angle from which to contemplate, it does not narrow the search by any margin at all.
The dark irony is this: the closer one is to questions like these, the further one is from answering them. In fact, the mere intention to state such abstractions is a symptom of the problem one endeavors to solve. Here salvation is reductive. Its semblance evades the moment and can only be realized in retrospect once one has acted well enough for long enough. Yet despite these metacognitive meditations, here I stand, entranced by the countertop.
In these moments of eternity, there is no place to go. The mind keeps sputtering but the system has stalled. The beloved stories that explain my existence lay in pieces before me. Worse still is that their disassembly claimed every scrap of willpower I had. Now I’m less with less to work with.
Where to go from here?
A wise man once said: it’s easier to act your way to better thinking than think your way to better acting. At times like these it seems acting is all I have left. A silent acceptance for what I do next is the only path to unity, and to the death of dissonance. Until, of course, I draft new narratives and forge new virtues on the basis of those actions to appease the ego that drives me. And so the cycle begins again.