My unquiet mind

I’ve been alone and discontent this weekend. The book I carried around town and read in coffeehouses and cafes wasn’t sufficiently engaging, or the activity itself wasn’t satisfying. It’s hard to explain why I sometimes can’t pull together enough energy to do something new or productive. And why every accomplishment happens in fits and starts—even writing a blog entry. A short answer is that I think too much. I perceive too many complications and too much danger in the possibilities of life, and they freeze me into place. Instead of keeping my focus straight ahead, I’ll let myself be distracted by anything nearby that might be temporarily fulfilling. I have a terrible aversion to stepping forward unless I know exactly where my foot is going to land. Even on a short, safe path, I want to make sure that my travel goes smoothly. Perfectly, in fact.

This is too much pressure. Frequently I need to step off the path, if only for a moment, to let my perceptions and thoughts drift away. During the shortest of meditations I can feel an emotional release and see life with a greater clarity. The truth that comes back, again and again, is that I can do well only if I stop expecting so much of myself. There’s nothing wrong with striving toward ideals, and having high expectations under some circumstances, but to do so constantly is more harmful than beneficial. In my case it means nearly constant self-criticism and second guessing. If I could take that mental activity down a notch, there would be room for so much more: seeing, accepting, knowing, and enjoying. Energy always comes flowing back in, sooner or later. There is nothing I can’t do with it.

I don’t know if I’ll have enough time to give myself a rest this week, but I will push onward to Friday, when my vacation starts. I’ll be basking in the Central California coast for a few days.

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