I spend a lot of time in my head. It’s always pretty busy in there. Not always with relevant and important information (umm…where are my keys, again? What time does my morning rehearsal start tomorrow?) – but it’s always pretty full.
Don’t get me wrong, as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing. I value my intellect and my thoughtfulness and I appreciate my mind’s capacity for thought and analysis and creativity. I like that my mind is busy. I like that it has the capacity to take me away from the day-to-day realities of my life. I enjoy conversations where I find myself traversing fertile intellectual ground; I need the stimulus that intellectual challenge gives me.
In short, I’m a nerd. I’m good with that.
The problem with that, though (other than the obvious: if you lose your keys because your mind was simply too full of interesting thoughts to note where you put them, the keys are still inconveniently lost) is that I tend too far towards what one spiritual director only sort-of-jokingly called “head stuff” at the expense of other things that make me human. It’s all intellectual. I’m learning to be a bit more balanced, but while I value my intellect I’m also aware of a defect: too much head stuff leaves no room for heart stuff. No room for soul stuff. No room for emotion.
And that is a problem for me. Partly, of course, I think it’s important to be a balanced, whole person: brain and body, intellectualism and soul. But also because the moment I stop – the moment my ever-whirring mind stills itself within my skull – I become aware of just how much emotion there is that thought crowds out. Psychic shrapnel working its way to the surface. Or, to use a slightly less eloquent phrase, ten years’ worth of shit waiting for me to deal with it. Waiting for me to feel it. Highly inconvenient, really.
My mind is an incredibly strong organ. I’ve had a lot of practise in not thinking about things – to say nothing of the better part of ten years spent in survival mode, not feeling the things that were happening to me. The further out of that war-zone I am, the more the memories are rising – inconvenient and intrusive and demanding, and always painful – and the more emotion comes with it. Sometimes, when I stop, I find tears spilling from my eyes seemingly unconnected to the contents of my head. Which is pretty much why I don’t stop very often.
And that’s a problem. I realise this. I do realise I need to be brave enough to deal with this emotion, to uphold its value in my life, to become a more balanced person. A person who feels as well as thinks. A person who is courageous enough to do that.
Maybe after Christmas. It’s all a bit busy at the moment.