Sometimes, I get overwhelmed by life. I'll feel like I've got four hundred things to do, but only time for four of them. Or perhaps I'm trying to figure out some complicated thing, and feel utterly lost, unsure where to even begin.
When this happens, I don't just think these things, I feel them in my body. My heart pounds. My stomach grows cold, and clenches. It's not pleasant.
It's familiar though. It feels a lot like crawling up the steep upward climb of a Rollercoaster.
Often when this happens, I'll feel like I'm riding that Rollercoaster alone. How can Coworker X be laughing, and swapping meatloaf recipes with Coworker Y, while I'm crawling upward to my inevitable doom? Can't they see I'm panicking here? I'll feel momentarily angry at the world, convinced that it's stepping on me, and only me. Somehow this unique, special torment is reserved only for me, for some karmic reason I don't know or understand.
It's a lie though. Actually, it's several lies, that we tell ourselves.
The first lie we tell ourselves is that we know exactly what's coming up.
When we get to the top of the coaster, and descend, it's going to be frightening, we're going to fly out of the car over the safety bar to our death, or at least we're going to just completely hate the experience.
Maybe. Maybe not.
The second lie we tell ourselves is that this fear is ours, and ours alone. No one else can known or understand this fear and pain.
That one is tricky, because while it's true that pain is intimate, everyone does experience it. WHAT we find painful is unique. THAT we experience pain altogether is universal.
Ok, so what? Who cares? I do, and so do you, because of the third lie.
The third lie we tell ourselves is that our pain is wrong, needless, unnecessary, or yet worse a punishment. Either it's completely random and pointless, or Someone Really Hates Us.
In a word, bullshit. The philosopher Alan Watts says that you are a function of the whole universe, in the same way that a wave is a function of the whole ocean. Each wave is shaped by, and shapes every other wave. Each wave is necessary.
This is absolutely true. I just had a shared experience that drove it home to me.
This morning I was working on a very challenging technical problem at work. It wasn't going well, either. I felt totally lost.
I caught myself panicking, stuck in that "I can't do it, all hope is lost" style attack. I realized I was psyching myself out.
I took a deep breath, and emptied my mind. I allowed my racing thoughts to sputter out, and die. Then I started again, reducing the problem to simple steps.
About 30 minutes later, I solved it. Just before my victory, I got texted by a friend.
We had this exchange:
I'm not dead. Was asked to do 100 tickets in 2 hours, at a meeting. (Started with 50. Then a TL said, "well, if we're asking the impossible, why not shoot for the stars?") I normally do 50-100 tickets IN A DAY.
Did I do it? Of course. I'm the Impossible Girl.
...belated panic attack commencing.
Hugs. Similarly, I'm untangling a big tech problem. Similar feelings of drowning in thoughts/actions.
Empty the mind.
We helped each other. We shared our necessity of experience. My suffering and move through it, eased hers.
I'm so grateful we're on the same Rollercoaster. It makes the ride better.