I had the thought a few minutes ago that, given fifty-five years or so of mental illness, I should pay no attention to what my mind tells me. What the fuck does it know? What the fuck good has it ever done me?
Ok, my mind has done some good things for me, but generally no more than a competent high school counselor might have. (For that matter, I wish I’d grown up in a time when high school counselors recognized an illness as common as depression.) Most of the major decisions in my life I have made for poor reasons, and the results have reflected that: garbage in, garbage out.
(I wouldn’t call my marriage garbage, as such, but that was a decision made out of need. Yes, I got two amazing sons from that “bad” decisions, not to mention four beautiful grandchildren, but the point: I used poor judgment to make a huge decision, and the end result was a marriage that didn’t even last eight years.)
The Buddha would not tell me to ignore my mind, I think, but he would tell me to keep a close eye on it. It’s a tricky little bastard and can’t be trusted.
Here’s the compelling story of my revelation. Chock-a-block with thrills and intrigue. Hang on!
I woke up at 6:30 and felt pretty good. I made a cup of tea, and then watched YouTube for over an hour-and-a-half. I went back to the kitchen to clean up and make another cup of tea, maybe some breakfast. I finished the dishes, then sat at the counter. I had no inclination of what to do next.
I tried to see what magazines were available from the library via the app they use, but, of course, the app wasn’t working. (My iPod is ancient and it barely works.)
I sat some more.
I listened to the end of a podcast I’d started the other day.
I realized: My brain had nothing to offer, no suggestions, no help. My brain had already thrown in the towel for the day. And I realized: This is how my brain, controlled by depression, ruins my life, day after wasted, useless, unbearable day. My brain is certifiably broken, and yet I let it run my life?
So yes, I am as stupid as I am ill.
The remedy came to me at almost the same moment as the understanding of the problem: I need to go through my day without paying attention to what my mind is trying to tell me.
I’m sure you see the problems inherent in that “solution”.
However, it worked – at that moment. I cannot report on how it worked this afternoon or tomorrow. But for now, I made that cup of tea and decided to write about my revelation. That was good enough: plan for the next half-hour of my life. That was it. Tea and write.
Which is a large part of how the Buddha wanted people to use their minds: What can you do now? Too late to undo the past, and the future will suck if I don’t get the present right. And here I am, this piece nearly done, the tea nearly gone, and I know I’ll need to make more decisions soon.
The skill I need to learn: How to make those decisions without my fucked-up brain screwing things up.