** The following words are the ramblings of a fool. Please take it with a grain of salt or in this case a bucket full of it.*****
Of all the things I wish I could predict, Stock prices, oil prices, the direction of the night will go if I’m out on a date and if I should stick or bail early and cut my losses. Unfortunately, none of them are even remotely in the realm of my predictive capabilities. Trust me, I have tried. It’s a lesson I learned the hard way. But there’s one thing I can predict, and that is my old friend darkness will return. Just as a day turns to night, my fleeting moments of happiness eventually turns to misery and despair. Sometimes those brief moments stretch long enough that it could be a few days. Days when you naively think everything is ok and you’re on your way to achieving everything you ever dreamed of. Then it comes back. I call it a friend because if you have had anyone hang around long enough, they automatically become your friend. Like people you cross paths with randomly throughout your daily routines like the people you see on the bus every day or someone you regularly see in the supermarket or the people you see in the gym. You don’t really know them but given enough time they become part of your life. So much so that if you don’t run into them, you suddenly realize it. That to me is a friend. Not the person you went to class with who never once crosses your mind except for when you see their anti-vaccination campaigns, but the ones who you barely talk to yet have a connection somehow. That to me is this darkness. It can manifest in different ways in different people. Anger, resentment, jealousy, depression, crippling anxiety. But for some, like me, it’s like a heavy blanket that blocks the sunshine, that is life. A load you carry with. It’s not always there. You never know when it appears. Somedays are great. The sun is shining until it isn’t. And then suddenly you feel that heaviness on you. Darkness where there’s supposed to be light. Butterflies in your stomach for no apparent reason. You never know when it will appear. Always lurking around the corner.
Over a long enough time, you’ll end up becoming friends with your darkness. Popping a pill to make it disappear is what a lot of people resort to, but in my opinion, it’s too nearsighted. What happens when it comes back for a different reason? How many pills will you pop then? Artificially inducing conditions that should be earned or worked hard for can never be a long term solution. Like people who win the lottery or become skinny by stapling their stomach. These results never last.
If you want to overcome it, you need to fully understand it. What makes it come back. What are the underlying issues? Recognize the problem and not the symptom. And then attack it. Is it your career? Is it success? Money? Or lack thereof. Is it your relationships? Is it your mother who uses you as her therapist.
Somehow, on some level, way we are all someone’s therapist, except we don’t get paid for it.
You can only get to the deep end of it when you befriend your darkness. Understand what makes it rise. Is there a pattern to when it rises? And if you look deep enough like I have or am trying to, you’ll come to your own conclusions on your darkness. How you can keep it away. Things that you can do to avoid or at least reduce its effects. Most people run away from deep introspection, and for a good reason, It’s uncomfortable being uncomfortable. And that’s what it is, being in a tricky uncomfortable situation that is difficult to get out of. Like being knee deep in quicksand.
I’ve spent the last year really digging deep and trying to get to the bottom of my own darkness. A few things that I have realized that has helped me move from darkness to light.
I’m not always successful at it but it’s a good start. I’ve realized it’s not the external outcomes but rather internal actions that keep the dark blanket away from me. I’ve always been focused on numbers. My rank, my GPA, my salary, my savings, my assets, my gadgets, etc. Those people who focus on figures such as the money in their bank or the number of houses they own as a measure of being happy will undoubtedly fail. In the end, no amount is big enough. There will always be someone with a more significant number and it will instantly make you feel small. But, if you can find some activity in your day that makes you lose your self in the act rather than in the millions of random useless thoughts we have each day, then for a brief period we can be happy. The mere act of getting lost in the activity, call it focus, call it being in flow, but just the act of putting in the work and losing yourself from distractions and dedicating all your cognitive abilities to a single task is a small step towards the light. You don’t have to love it, but you need to enjoy it enough to be able to dedicate some time to it. Just enough to challenge yourself a little more each time. It can be a hobby, a passion, your career or a job but giving even just a few minutes of uninterrupted time with complete focus is key. The second-hand effect of focus is progress.
Focus leads to progress and Progress leads to growth.
In life, we grow or we die.
Unfortunately, most of us are walking zombies.
Even if you hate your job, on days when you fully dedicate your mind to it, we often come up with creative ways to improve certain tasks. Ideas on improving the way things work just automatically arise but, of course, we don’t act on it cos well we have convinced ourselves that we hate our jobs and we want to all become vloggers, but often, focus leads to creative outbursts.
Put yourself in a position where you perform those sets of activities that make you lost in thought like, working out, writing, coding, dancing, singing, learning a new skill, or even hanging out with a friend without being distracted by Twitter. Well, it could be anything, even working your boring dead-end job but with complete presence of mind and focus, and the darkness dissipates a little bit at a time. The moment your mind realizes you’re making progress and you’re heading somewhere, there’s instant sunshine. The day is always bright. You wake up with a beat. Your HRV monitor can’t figure out what’s going on and why your readiness level is high even though you had less REM sleep.
Looking back at this year, it feels amazing that I could get myself to a point where I can recognize precisely what I need to do to become fully engaged in tasks whether it’s my job, my hobbies, and passions. Work on projects that actually make me lost in thought. Even if it means not going out or socializing as much as I should. Anytime a few days go by where I can’t focus or work on things I want to or am too distracted by life and other things going on to fully commit to these activities, I know the darkness will return. I know I will have a bad day if I don’t make a change soon enough.
I hope you find your way towards the light.
Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.