I do some of my best thinking when my brain is acting up. And when I’m depressed. I write some of my best poetry when darkness descends, something that annoys me a little; it’s such a trite and expected thing.
I get philosophical when my brain is acting up. I get contemplative. I search for a purpose.
It’s all very deep.
I also do bad thinking when my brain is acting up. And when I’m depressed. The patterns are skewed and the conclusions are off.
And let’s not talk about the plans I make, assuming I can motivate myself enough to make any.
They’re often disastrous.
I once ran away from home. I was twenty and dancing close to a breakdown. I decided an escape was needed. I would be better, I would be fixed if I was somewhere else.
I packed everything I owned into my Honda Civic station wagon and headed south. I didn’t stop until I hit Oregon and pulled myself out of the insanity. Unfortunately, I then found myself decompensating twelve hours from home and help.
You have to learn to separate the wheat ideas from the chaff.
Don’t automatically agree with the things you think. Examining our thoughts is important. Our thoughts aren’t wonderful and perfect just because we’re having them.
I tend to sit for long periods when my brain is acting up. Sometimes, I sit and read. Sometimes, I sit and journal. Sometimes, I sit and think. Thinking is a necessary precondition for thoughts, good, bad, or indifferent.
I like thinking about things “not me”. Neuroses encourage navel-gazing. They keep you focused on the self.
It gets boring.
Luckily, there are a great many interesting things to think about.
Sometimes I think about the nature of the universe. Contemplating that will keep you occupied for decades. I engage in fits and starts.
Thinking about space, time, and gravity hurts my head.
There’s also neoliberal economic theory. Debates about domestic economic growth and the health of corporations are currently all the rage.
Thinking about popular economic theories hurts my heart.
Sometimes I think about less serious matters. There’s no shortage of topics there either. How do ant societies work? What are the philosophical underpinnings of anarchism? Will Meredith get Alzheimer’s on Grey’s Anatomy? Should I start collecting tins again? All require contemplation.
I feel guilty answering “thinking” when people ask how I’m spending my time. I feel especially guilty if I’m doing it and I’m not depressed. I feel apologetic, like I’m not doing a real thing. It’s probably why I do good thinking when I’m depressed – my brain stores ideas up, waiting for the space to let the thoughts rise to the surface. The space shows up when the depression slows me down.
And yet, I like thinking. I like researching, pondering, and writing. In days of old, I’d have picked “philosopher” or “scholar” as a profession and been well-thought-of.
Children are good thinkers. They have interesting ideas that cover a wide range of subjects. They want to know how the plumbing works and why don’t ants have pools. They’re full of questions and curiosity and not afraid to admit they don’t know.
Luckily, we train that behaviour out.
We aren’t growing as many philosophers.
Our societies are feeling the lack.
This, then, is an upside to my depression.
When I’m depressed, I don’t justify the time I spend in thought. In fact, sitting in an apparently aimless fashion is expected. Engaging in contemplation and reflection is even encouraged. I’m expected to figure myself out so I can get back on track and get back to being of the world. Giving me time for contemplation is something to feel grateful to depression for.
Almost nothing is wholly bad. It’s all perspective; you find light in the strangest of places.
That’s something to sit and think about.
Do you like to spend time in contemplation? Do you contemplate and meditate? Or, if you meditate, do you try and use the time to create peace and emptiness?