What If What If What If What If What If (It’s a Trap)

The weird sporadic breakdowns, I’ve come to expect them. Paralysis with fear—my effing pulse going so quick and hard it feels like the blood is going to break free and start leaking from my eyes and ears and fingernails. At 30, my ebb and flow has become predictable. At least I have realized that nothing in this universe where we live now is permanent.

So just wait.

Almost a year ago, I became aware of the danger in fear. Fear is a trap that exists in our own minds. It keeps us from doing the things that we deeply want to do. The caveat is that it’s an evolutionary mechanism that originally worked in terms of survival, but the way it works now is convoluted. This is what I mean: a monkey is eating a banana on the forest floor, hears a rustle in the bushes and feels afraid that it can’t see what made the sound, climbs a tree. Instead of dying, the monkey’s instinct that told him to be afraid, to climb the tree, meant that a jaguar did not attack and eat him. Survival. What happens now is more complicated. The massive input that is fed into our bodies and our brains telling us things in order to synthetically create a sense of fear as a means to an end (to buy something, to believe something, etc.) is not decipherable as clearly. Our instincts have faded behind all the noise of everything we’re being fed. This is what I’m talking about, fear as a danger. Who can we trust to tell us when something is fucked up? When we’re being irrational? When we’re being tricked? When we are afraid, is it pure, or is it a response to all the garbage pumped into the world for us to mindlessly absorb? It’s even hard to trust ourselves, knowing some of the garbage might have seeped in.

Last night, the research I was doing about how to become a legal Spanish resident started to drown me. What if I can’t do it? What if I do everything right and they still say no? What if I get a big red stamp in my passport that bans me from the EU for 5 years? It’s all about money. So then the panic began. What if nothing I am working on is successful? What if I’m a huge disappointment to my family, to humanity? What if I don’t create anything beautiful? What if what if what if what if. That’s the kind of thinking we’re trained to do: we’re trained to worry, to fear, so that we take the easy route and follow the pack. Get a stable job, that’ll keep us from worrying. At least we won’t end up with nothing. But for me, I will end up with nothing because I will be empty inside. I don’t know what made me this way, but the idea of being a day-in-day-out slave to a boss, to operate by their whims, to have to be told when I have to wake up in the morning, when I can go home, when I can take a trip, that’s not the life for me. I’d rather be poor. I’d rather eat rice on a bamboo mat in a shack under a palm tree for the rest of my life.

And really, let me get existential for a minute, because every day that goes by, the more of an existentialist I become. What we’re doing with the moments of our lives is it.  That’s all there is. Everything we’re told that matters, it only matters if it fills us up with the beautiful energy of the universe. You decide what matters, and you do it, because that’s it. This existence we’re experiencing, it’s a speck. The paralyzing fear I felt last night, I recognized that it was a result of the bullshit. It was fake. The real thing: I was in the cloud of a bed that I made for myself. I could feel my dog’s warm breath on my thigh where her chin was resting. I was drinking cheap Spanish Rioja from a cheap Ikea glass under the fairy lights I hung on my ceiling. Yes, I will have to deal with the Visa rigmarole, but there’s nothing to be afraid of. Fear will only make it feel impossible to deal with. Just do it if I want to do it, and if I don’t, well then I won’t.

I knew what I was experiencing was the bullshit fear. At least there’s that. (What came to mind was the mantra I learned almost a year ago from Earl Nightingale: We are what we think about. It’s true.) So, the fear didn’t go away immediately, but the panicky urge to hyperventilate and self-destruct and give up went. And today, muchoooo mejor. In my experience so far, time is the only way that feelings pass. When I am overwhelmed by fear, or happiness, or despair, excitement, it’s all passing through. We are not our feelings; our feelings pass through us like food. Even when we fall in love with someone, marry them, the emotions that occur are not static. I promise to love you forever is a commitment more than it is an expression of a stable, unchanging emotional state.

At least I have realized that nothing in this universe where we live now is permanent.

So just wait.

Did you know, you are free? Do you now?

 

 

P.S. I wonder if there is a different kind of permanence that doesn’t appear until we leave this universe we’re in now.