From the moment my recent chemo treatment began, months ago, I had one thought in mind: Once this is done, I want to travel. I had my sights on Tashkent, and Samarkand, and Amritsar. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know, it’s like something is waiting there for me. No matter, it won’t happen: The virus happened, and I am grounded. I know, my timing sucks!
When will it end? No one knows. I no longer consume virus news. And while I do not mean to litter our collective mindscape with more virus food, I will. Because if I don’t speak out now, it may be too late.
Our response to the virus worries me. Not for our 3-6 month future, because we know that will be painful. But for how life will be in 3-5 years and beyond.
There are unrecognizable lives ahead of us: a healthcare disaster; economic collapse; retail, and airlines, and hotel industries going down; geopolitical games with China; the environmental rebound that nature engineered, that we have incapable of designing in over 30 years.
But I will focus on only one:
And I did: I explored everything. The magic of therapists, and of mind-bending gurus; Medications; And meditations, kirtans, retreats, temples in Indian valley villages, I needed help. I did everything by the book: Sat through deep breathing exercises, trying to let my thoughts come and go without engaging them, without judging, passively staying in the one breath.
“You can do anything for one breath”, they said. “Your mind will be constantly buzzing, just let it be”; “try slow-eating a raisin for 5 minutes”. The problem was the mind, the mind, the mind. “We need to silence the mind”. Everybody was convinced that therein laid the root of human suffering.
I was a just little girl.
That evening, I was playing on the floor next to my father’s armchair, when I accidentally knocked over his cigarette holder. His cigarettes all spilled out. He got fuming mad. He demanded that I pick them up and replace them in the holder. He yelled at me to apologize. I refused to do either. I froze as this went on for a couple of hours. I cried, but never apologized.
It was downhill from there. As a teenager, he imposed a 9 pm curfew. If I showed up at 9:05, there would be punishment. Delivered with a belt with a buckle, on the front steps of the house, no discussion. I remember the day that the rage in me became a distinct object that lived in my throat: I had just gotten t my hands on my first Beatles record, when he pulled it from the player and smashed it on his knee — because he did not like the lyrics. I was devastated.
For decades, I carried that fury around. It seeped into everything in my life. I remained stubborn, I couldn’t trust anyone, I had authority issues.
No one teaches us how to ask Questions. Everyone is constantly focused on our answers.
My brain seems to be going a million miles an hour, every hour. It is constantly busy. I cannot find peace, it bothers me.
Is there a way to stop this? Is it any good anyway?
The good news is, the answer is yes. There is a way. The bad news is that it takes work. Effort. Until you make it a habit (See here about habits).
A useful brain is a disciplined brain. The other kind is just torture.