, , , ,

One of the online journals I follow, Satellites & Planes, shared an interesting post which I had to bookmark. It’s actually a post regarding another blogger’s comment on a prior entry she wrote about the New Year.

I’d like to highlight below the meat of the comment:

The more one tries to focus/ruminate on a particular thought, the more he seems to lose clarity. It gets hazy to the point where the individual ends up doubting the authenticity of the particular thought itself. Eventually we are back to square one.

You can read the comment within its context here, but the abovementioned lines were the ones I extracted because to me, they best encapsulated the situation I am in.

I have always been prone to overthinking. It’s a result of my insistent desire to have things within my control, to have the world explained to me. Before I approach any situation, I tend to have theories already laid out in my head, most of which consider worst-case scenarios. When something happens, I want it within my grasp, impossibly boxed within my own context, and interpreted according to my own meanings. This is good if you’re pragmatic and you always want to be prepared, and if you’re someone who enjoys asking questions. However, it can be unnerving and disconcerting when you’re constantly living in your head attached to theories, possibilities, and peculiarities instead of present realities; asking questions with answers that don’t always stay the same, or even exist.

I’d like to think that to be able to think and live well, a certain amount of detachment is necessary – detachment from the past, detachment from useless anxiety, or detachment even from people. And this is where the quoted words above play out. Things are clearer at a certain distance. It’s like when you’re reading a newspaper or book. Myopia aside, the more one zooms in at what he or she is reading, the more the lines, the words, the sentences are blurred to the point it really doesn’t make sense. They just turn out to be points connected by lines blurred out in paper. Sometimes, being at the outside of things and not exactly fully immersed in it, affords the best vantage point. Sometimes, not being in control, is the better option.

A good friend of mine shared his thoughts on the comment by quoting another quote:

Before I began studying Zen, I saw mountains as mountains, rivers as rivers. When I learned some Zen, mountains ceased to be mountains, rivers to be rivers. But now, when I have understood Zen, I am in accord with myself and again I see mountains as mountains, rivers as rivers.

– Saisho, as quoted by Charles Wright in his introduction to Best American Poetry 2008.

I might be stretching matters here when I say that the quotes I shared also appeal to the human tendency to need an explanation for everything, especially science. Science is good and necessary. Science is amazing. And so is technology. But I think that man, who by nature is limited, hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface of explaining everything. The cliché points it out too, right? The more one knows the more he realizes doesn’t know. Many things, I supposed, will remained unexplained by infinite possibilities. That’s how the universe should work. It’s supposed to be an endlessness. Something we aren’t. Something we shouldn’t worry about. Something we shouldn’t get so worked about trying to understand.