A brain at rest stays at rest.
A brain in motion stays in motion
unless acted upon by an outside force.
I’ve had a lot on my mind, of late. Problems at work, serious illness in the family, seeking a new job, the question of a career change, the question of additional training in my current career, another (possible) illness in the family, plus the self-imposed pressures about writing and book releases. In all, it’s kept my brain in motion pretty much all the time.
Normally, a brain in motion is a good thing. A brain in motion is a thinking brain, a learning brain. When all is calm, a brain in motion sails happily along. It thinks during the day, it dreams at night. But when placed under stress, it loses equilibrium. Sleep is disturbed. Patterns are disrupted. It cannot focus. It cannot concentrate.
At such times, I used to think that my brain was speeding out of control and, simplistically, I used to apply a single, “opposing force” in an attempt to stop it. Through such attempts I learned:
- No amount of alcohol can slow the “brain in motion.”
- Sedatives can bring sleep, but they cannot bring rest.
- Denying facts on the ground simply makes more problems.
But then I realized something. I was thinking of my brain as something that was traveling in a straight line, as if all these worries and problems were simply adding velocity to my brain’s motion. They were not. A better metaphor is that all these issues and concerns are other forces that are affecting my brain, coming in and smacking it from different directions, making my poor head pinball around, flipping it in one direction and then < bumper > and off it goes in a different direction. So, naturally, being a problem-solving-male, I tried to counter each force with an equal and opposite force.
The problem here is that you just can’t see this stuff coming at you. It sneaks in under the radar. It gets lobbed in from orbit. It hits you when you least expect it. By trying to counter this chaos, by trying to “assert calm” upon my mind, I was inadvertently exacerbating the situation. I was adding my own outside forces to the equation, and instead of achieving equilibrium, was whipping myself into a froth.
Okay. New tactic.
It is cliché, but it’s also true:
- There are just some things I can’t do anything about, so I mustn’t try to change them.
- I mustn’t add to the froth; there’s already enough noise in the signal.
- I’m imperfect, so I just need to be satisfied with what I can do.
So, I’m going to drop some balls, and I’m going to miss some cues, and I’m going to fail at some of the many things I need to do. If I stop trying to change direction I’m thrown and instead just work on what I can while headed in that direction, I’ll get more done and be less frustrated.
The brain will stay in motion, but I will survive the trip.