One of my biggest challenges in life is navigating fickle moods and anxieties that feel more like sickness than emotion. Fear takes me like a fever and my reality distorts.
Speaking of reality distortion: It seems that peak stress (such as not sleeping much, working long days) and creative expression (jamming, writing, performing) take me interestingly close to a psychedelic state. Something about the lights; something about the way disparate ideas connect; things shift and swirl beneath my feet.
(Perhaps this is why my psychedelic adventures have been sparse and cautiously done, and that a small amount goes a very long way. I’m already very nearly there.)
If I were able to better harness this abstract mind of mine, and calm the anxiety that hides beneath the surface, I could experience much more peace and satisfaction. But isn’t that true of everyone? Isn’t peace just around the corner? Isn’t conflict constant? Once you solve a problem, another one is around the corner, waiting. And it’s probably a bigger one. A juicier one. And I love problems, don’t we all love problems? What else would life be? A code to crack, a push to grow, an accomplishment and deep satisfaction when the problem is confronted. No problems would be like no gravity. Our muscles would waste away and we’d be flimsy and shapeless.
So at the same time, I resent anything that takes me away from the immediacy of my life. “If only I were less anxious…”, “If only I were more peaceful…”, these are true statements, and I want to grow in that direction, but these thoughts come dangerously close to making me resent where I am in the moment. If only makes things seem much worse than they really are. Because right now, things are pretty good. Great, even. Ups and downs are all a part of it. Sure, I’m working on being less anxious. But I’ve come a long way from the panic attacks of fifteen years ago, and everything really is okay.
It reminds me of how quickly we tend to acclimate to our reality, and then we want more. When I was younger, I lived in a cricket-infested small apartment, but it was good. Rent was cheap, I didn’t have to work much, and I was able to live creatively. But then – but then – I wanted a house. So my friends and I rented a house. And that was good. So much space! How fun to be with friends! But then, but then – turf wars, hostility, passive-agressiveness. I wanted to be alone. And on and on the journey went.
Now I live in a townhouse in a nice, new neighborhood. The rental price is one I couldn’t have afforded even a few years ago, especially on my own. It’s small, but nicely spaced between three floors. I can escape to do work without disrupting anyone. I can sing loudly, because I only have one neighbor who works during the day, and the soundproofing is great. My landlord is awesome. I’ve been here nearly two years, and I’ve had moments of deep pride at being able to make living here work.
Still, still, still. I think, wouldn’t it be nice to have a house? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a real office? Wouldn’t it be nice for my daughter to have more space? A yard? Or maybe it would be nicer living in a condo in a larger city. Wouldn’t it be nice to live that life and have those experiences instead? Wouldn’t it be nice to be somewhere that isn’t here?
And that nice home that I might’ve only dreamed of years ago, it becomes less satisfying. Suddenly I want more. It’s not enough. What if, what if.
Things could always be better. But things are good. If I stop averting my gaze from what’s right in front of me – family, friends, space, freedom, meaningful work, this bustling Sunday afternoon coffee shop – if I stop drifting to supposedly better futures – then, THEN, it’s all okay, it was always okay.
Yes, that’s where peace lives. That’s where it has always been.