Sunday, August 21, 2022

Weekly Inspiration: Non-Stop Thoughts and Peace

It has been a LONG time since I've written a new Weekly Inspiration post! Sorry about that. It used to be my Sunday morning routine, and somehow, I can't seem to find the time now. Which is what today's post is about.

I was struck by a quote from a book I enjoyed this spring, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu. As you can probably tell by the title, it was a unique, quirky sort of novel, but it was about time travel, which I love to read about. The main character, also named Charles Yu, is traveling through time and space as he works as a time machine repair man, helping time travelers who've gotten stuck or used their machines improperly. But Charles has a greater mission: to find his father, who helped to invent time travel and then disappeared. You can read more about the novel in my review on my book blog.

In this scene, Charles is in a Buddhist temple, experiencing the silence and emptiness and peace of it, after his frantic years of rushing around the universe.

"My thoughts, normally bunched together, wrapped in gauze, insistent, urgent, impatient, one moment to the next, living in what I now realize is, in essence, a constant state of emergency (as if my evolutionary instincts of fight or flight have gone haywire, leading me to spend every morning, noon, and evening in a low-grade but absolutely never-ceasing form of panic), those rushed and ragged thoughts are now falling away, one by one, revealing themselves for what they are: the same thought over and over again. And once revealed for what they are, these hollow thoughts, imposters, non-thoughts masquerading as thoughts, memes, viruses, signals fired off, white noise generated by my brain, they are gone."

            - Excerpt from How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu

This passage struck me--and I added it to my Quotes Journal--because it describes exactly how my own thoughts feel most of the time!  I think it is a common state in our modern world, with too much input constantly assaulting our brains. In my case, it is that but also that I know I am trying to do too much. Somehow, my goals and to-do list just keep growing, and I am barely keeping up with maintenance tasks--not only my blogs and videos but also maintaining our house and yard and caring for myself. Which means I have little time left over for the things I really want to do, like spend time with friends, work on some new writing projects, or just relax and have fun. Despite being chronically ill and spending a lot of time every day resting, my life still feels like Yu describes above. My brain is constantly running like ... well, exactly like he says in that passage!

The character in the novel found peace and vanquished that constant urgency in the Buddhist temple. For me, that kind of peace often comes only when I am outdoors. I've noticed that when we are camping, and I am "off-grid," it still takes me a little time to calm down that barrage of thoughts. But when I finally do, it's a wonderful sense of peace and tranquility, to stop worrying about everything and constantly planning and calculating what to do. It's such a relief to just be, to sit and stare at the campfire or read a book in the middle of the day!

My happy place: Our favorite campsite

I don't need to go away to experience that peace. Sometimes, I can feel that way at home, but it takes a purposeful effort. Occasionally--not often enough--my husband and I will declare a day off or even a brief "respite," when we both pledge to set everything aside and just relax. We'll order takeout on a Saturday night, watch a movie, and then I am able to let go, too. 

I enjoyed a nice day off on my birthday last month. It was horrendously hot outside, so we went to a morning matinee at the movie theater. We hadn't been in over a year, but at 10 am on a Saturday, the theater was almost empty! We watched Where the Crawdads Sing, which is based on a novel I loved, and we just completely escaped into the beautiful world of the film. After my nap that day, I had an amazing surprise: my childhood best friend came to visit, the first time we'd seen each other in over ten years! It was a full, fun day with none of the usual pressures or "white noise generated by my brain."

Do you relate to this quote at all?

Do you have trouble turning off your brain and truly relaxing?

What brings you peace?

No comments: