wandering

There’s the saying not all those who wander are lost. I just re-read it while reading lord of the rings. I am reading lord of the rings right now while doing a bit of wandering on my own. In a land I do not know. In a language I roughly know. Wandering.

I have done my fair share of wandering this year. Some of which has been “successful,” but a lot of which has felt aimless. Like I am lost in a forest not sure where to step. Not sure what to do next. What flight to hop on. Or not to hop on. Which essay to write. Or not to write. Each step feels uncertain. I am not brand new to this type of wandering. I have explored aimlessly before. But it has been a minute. And by minute I mean years. Years since I really had this level of freedom to truly wander.

Wandering takes place at the physical level. Yes. With my steps and movements. And activities I decide to do versus not to do.

But it also takes place at a mental level. With my mind. Sometimes I feel the urge to add structure. To my thoughts. To what I am thinking about. I sometimes want to bottle up the monkey mind and make sure he’s occupied.

There are other times though where I want to not being doing that. Where I want to make room for wandering. Where I want to encourage an aimlessness of sorts.

Is this bad? Perhaps the old me would think of this as regression. As steps backwards.

But the new me perhaps has a new appreciation for this idea that more is not always more. That how you use a thing or how you do a thing matters. That forward progress is not always actually forward. That a step in an even globally accepted good direction is not obviously a positive step.

It depends.

Depends on so many factors. Factors that words would not do justice. The complexity of life that is what I am referring to.

Anyways, don’t want to enter that rabbit hole more than I already have.

This is a case for wandering. And as you have seen with this essay. I am wandering. My brain is all over the place.

So the question I think about is whether or not to resist. Or rather to let it go. To let it wander. This is a tension many are familiar with. I have been, for a long while, too.

It is also described by a famous message around the the yin and yang. I did yin yoga for the first time yesterday. The instructor talked about this balance between yin and yang. The breath being a good demonstrator of this tension. The same types of tensions I find my life, I find in my breath. Dependent on one another — breathing in and breathing out — but also so different in so many ways.

We often want to simplify life to just one of the two being better. Yin versus yang. But that is not the message. The message is of compliments. Of both.

When you are doing yoga, a lot of the time I have this desire to want to focus. That fails nearly all the time. Like trying to focus. Read alan watts on wisdom of insecurity where he talks about the law of reverse effort or whatever he calls it. Trying hard to sleep does not put you to sleep. In the same way this law of reversed effort applies here.

And so my mind wants to wander. That is it’s job often. To come up with ideas and explore and wander.

So much of me wants to resist, especially during yoga. When I really want to focus and be present. And not be distracted by the ideas running through my brain. And if you know me you know these tend to really consume me. Rather quickly I can go from chill to obsessed with particular thoughts. Not very productive, especially when trying to meditate of sorts.

Or so I thought.

But what has helped me most in these times is not telling myself: “dont think about it dont think about it dont think about it.”

For obvious reasons, this approach has not worked.

What has, though, is just letting the thoughts happen.

Letting the wandering happen.

When I run, a similar thing happens.

When I start to think about not being tired or about my legs not hurting, things start to hurt. But when I just let them hit me. Things feel okay. They pass through me.

Accepting the pain. Running towards it. Just letting it happen without overbracing for impact or over correcting in any particular direction.

That is perhaps the key with this exercise.

Letting your mind wander.

It is a fairly simple thing. And yet I am probably materially worse at the practice than I was when I was 4 years old.

Weird how that works.

Like I have seen so much of the world. I have so many more resources. So much more knowledge.

And yet.

I am materially worse at what seems to be an important thing.

Giving my mind space.

It’s almost as if all these things. That we accumulate throughout our lives. Yes they provide some quantum of meaning. Yes they provide stuff for us.

But what if they are all motion?

Like if I cannot even sit still in a room for 30 minutes and let my mind peacefully wander — then what have I become? What sort of robot am I? One that is glued to a screen. Or ten screens. Or think he’s been walking forward but in reality has just fallen deeper into a hole. A hole with no bottom.

Like it is surely possible that I fairly easily could spend the rest of my life trapped like this.

And perhaps this is the status quo. Like there’s a world where I just go on like this. Without confronting the reality.

Without accepting the reality really. Confrontation sounds like a battle or fight is about to ensue. But in reality it’s the lamest fight ever. It’s just putting down the weapons. It’s just accepting the simple and obvious. The easy but hard. The clear.

Put the ring down they told Frodo. But it’s shiny! It’s gold.

Who cares.

Put it down.

Accept the pain. It’s just a feeling. On the other side of acceptance, is presence.


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