If you’ve been following my recent posts, you won’t be surprised that my photography often ends up prompting me to write about a subject that has been commanding much of my attention. I have to laugh at how my subconscious works and slaps me, in a good-natured way, to wake up. This often happens with dreams (I sometimes keep a dream journal), but now it’s happening more frequently with my art and photography, as demonstrated by the thought bubble photo above.
A thought bubble is fine, now and then.
Yes, thinking is necessary to living and taking care of oneself. But when it becomes so habitual and so domineering, a person can get trapped in its interpretations of the world. Seeing thus often becomes distorted, and limited.
This is what I have learned about myself. When I took this photo, I thought I was being opportunistically clever. Only later, when I was studying it did I realize it was an indictment of how I’ve moved through much of my life.
Stories about life can be wonderful. They also can become a prison.
I know this only too well from personal experience. I always have loved stories and fables as a way to speak about the unexplainable nature of living. For me, they’re best when held lightly and not used to control and encapsulate life in a nice, tidy package. But, when the stories become an ever-present thought bubble, that’s when they hinder rather than help.
Well, I’ve found they can end up obscuring life and blocking a fuller appreciation of life as it is unfolding. For instance, my giant thought bubble about moving to Italy, and the life I’d find here, was a doozy. I thought I had it all figured out and I was certain how the adventure would play out. And then, life happened. My thought bubble about Jed’s life in Italy ended up being about 20% accurate. Many times, when my life in Italy veered into an unforeseen direction, I remained petulantly fixed in my thought bubble. A few times I had internal, emotional temper tantrums. Like a lot of people, I simply wanted to have MY way.
Big life changes are not best traveled in a thought bubble.
I now reside in this understanding. It took a couple of years of exhausting myself with incessant thinking and story-telling (aka judgment) before I really started letting go. The thought bubble kept trying to lure me back inside with threats of the uncertainty and danger if I didn’t stay within its protective force field. But, the more I practiced surrender and trust in letting life unfold, and without needing to judge, to label, and to create a story about everything, I felt lighter and freer. Yes, it’s been scary to jettison a lifetime of conditioning and it’s daunting to flex new muscles, but I know, now more than ever, that real living doesn’t happen in a distorted thought bubble.
Not everything requires an explanation or a reason.
I say this because I’ve gotten into so much trouble trying to attach a reason to everything. Playing God is dangerous. I’ve also exhausted myself doing so. If anything, life seems to be reminding me, again and again, that I really don’t and can’t know anything for certain, as hard as I try. And when I hear people attempt to explain the messes and tragedies of the world, I now remain mostly mute. Who really knows anyway?
Sometimes life just IS.
Ahhhh. What a relief to surrender to what is vs. the stories about how I want things to be. It’s too much of an emotional roller-coaster chasing after only what I perceive is good, according to my narrow little thought bubble.
I will continue to create stories through writing, photography and through my art. But, I pray to hold those creations lightly and not to use them to create another thought bubble in which I find myself in yet another prison, cleverly constructed with new decorations.
“Over-thinking ruins you. Ruins the situation, twists things around, makes you worry and just makes everything much worse than it actually is.” www.spirituallythink.blogspot.com