Life wobbles and flows, like some child's toy. There are the highlights - the sitting in the sunlight with a dear friend, talking, making plans, getting excited about the coming days - then the mistakes and the hitches when I act in ways I'm not proud of and feel the stabs of guilt and shame, and feel like throwing myself in the water in my frustration at not being perfect. There are the days waking up when it hurts to even think about getting out of bed, but there's no choice, then the successes at work where I feel the elation of doing something well. There are the lonely nights and the distinctly not-lonely ones. There are the extended periods of joy when I try not to worry about the dark cloud coming back. There are the moments of realizing that, in that moment, I'm happy, and feeling stunned that that's the case, as well as worried, wondering if that joy is too dependent on someone else's place in my life. There's the crabbiness, the pettiness, the disliking someone for no apparent reason, and then the bouts of compassion, kindness, and liking someone for no known reason, either. The moments when the most subtle shift of moods happen, where it's clear that the other side of the coin of irritation is an amused acceptance, the other side of the coin of a schoolgirl crush is the moment when I see the crush for who he is: a maddeningly imperfect human.
It's getting harder and harder for me to pretend or to expect that life will ever offer anything constant, certain, or trustworthy. And at 40, finally understanding, or beginning to understand this anyway, is really sort of frightening. It's scary to know that I can't trust my own mind. The difference between the moments of joy and the moments of pain are so staggering that it's like I experience them as two distinctly different people. How on earth can we humans handle this, hosting this ghost in our heads that tell us things that aren't true, and feeling, in the moment, that those emotions are the truest experiences in the world?
But the flip side is that as I get more and more frustrated at my inability to foresee the troughs and peaks of the waves, there's part of me that is giving up trying to foresee them, and I suspect that this is the key: giving up the expectation of anything ever staying consistent is the way to stop the suffering at this unchangeable fact. But the core longing for something I can count on, absolutely count on, is so strong that giving up that hope seems impossible, like letting go of my arm, or just choosing to stop breathing forever. You can't let go of or stop something that is so intrinsic to you. I think if I learn enough from my mistakes, that i won't keep making them, or if I just discover that one hidden secret that will unlock the universe, I will no longer have bouts of depression, anxiety, sadness, and loneliness. Or that if I can fit the right key into the right lock, I'll be guaranteed success in everything: relationships, work, enlightenment, family life, I'll even become more attractive and people will like me more.
What is it about the human brain that thinks there's an answer out there, anyway?