Problems. Issues. Tribulations. Opportunities (for growth or what? who came up with that crap?). Whatever the label, they are what they are: the friction and flat tires along the road of life. Or something equally cheesy sounding.
We all have to push through it. Curve balls and all. And we all have our own little ways of overcoming our obstacles. Testicular cancer, allergies, that asshole bus driver who keeps skipping your stop, heroin addiction, misfiled IRS returns, mullets, and fears of being eaten alive by rabid bears. It’s all there, it’s always there, and we’re always finding ways to cope. Standard ways involve the location/construction of some sort of vent. That vent may be:
Finger Pointing: THEY are doing this to me!
Artistic Expression: I’ll paint this situation out of me.
Poorly Devised Action: Iraq has me all confused, so I’ll just bomb that bitch.
The Coping Bender: Emotional problems? Fuck it, get obliterated.
Get Litigious: Money problems? Sue the innocent to make things right.
This is a woefully incomplete list of coping methods, but you get the picture. None of them actually solve a damn thing. Vents are a stop-gap measure. They are designed, specifically, to skirt the real issue in favor of a diversion. We’re all well aware that the only honest way to solve an issue is to define it, entirely, and then bust your ass to work up a solution set (complete with alternate plans). One of my favorite professors from University once told me:
Craig, there is only one true cure for anxiety, and that’s action.
At the time, I ignored the HUGE gap within his advice. While very helpful, that little motto ignores the difficulty in defining what it is that is causing the anxiety to begin with. It assumes that an individual only has ONE source of potential stress.
One source? Who the fuck is that lucky bastard? Whose life is so goddamned simple that they can easily point to one single snag?
I mean, shit. Seriously, what a load.
Problems travel in packs. Not that they literally roll together, but the human mind can do some impressive ignoring of mounting issues, up until a trigger gets pulled. Then the queued problems form a thunderhead and shit-storm down on their victim like so many dark horsemen. That’s the nature of the things.
And that’s when anxiety busts into your psyche like a bull in a china shop, mixing up the issues and wiping a nasty petroleum jelly haze over everything, making it virtually impossible to separate yourself from it all. Once that happens, my professors advice just sounds like a worthless cliché. Sure, action would be nice. It would be greeeeeaaaat. But the confused queue of issues needs to be reorganized first. (Perhaps that is what he meant by ‘action’?) You have to be able to build a priority set before you can begin to tackle anything with ‘action’.
A re-set, if you will. Re-boot. Screw it, call it what it is: a throw-the-hands-up-and-say-what-the-fuck?-moment.
Then, you’ll need something to knock out that mental log-jam, cemented with rampant anxiety. You’ll need to prep for true problem solving with a good ‘pre-cope’, as I like to call it.
Well, sometimes the best way to pre-cope is raw anger. Break some shit. Go on a tear. Go ape-shit and set something important on fire. That’s when you know you’ve hit rock-bottom. That’s when you can honestly say to yourself:
Self, there is no lower point to which I can possibly sink. Here lies the bottom of us. The subterranean subconscious lives here, and we’re looking to settle a score. There is no where to go but up. Up and out of this shit hole.
Now I’m not recommending that anyone literally destroy anything. Believe you: me, that will just lead to an altogether new and (possibly worse) problem set. This destruction should occur neatly, and only within the confines of your mind. Your brain is already at DEFCON 5, so fuck it. Torch that motherfucker. Burn your petty little anxiety to the ground, rendering it incapable of skewing the issues which brought it to your doorstep in the first place. Don’t let the anxiety become a problem in itself, because it is certainly NOT a problem on its own. It is a byproduct, a symptom, an evil little monkey which chatters away while riding the shoulder of the 800 pound gorilla who is piggy-backing your confused ass. Punching that monkey in the face will be the most difficult part of this whole process. The punch is the flame. The flame is your intent.
So: Burn. It. Down.
Then sort through the ashes. The real issues will remain. What truly matters to you will still be there, even after the mental apocalypse. If you have any capabilities whatsoever to wrangle your own thoughts, then this will be the easy part. After you’ve managed to beat your own problems out of their state of complete chaos, then they can be properly prioritized and dealt with accordingly. Some will continue on in the background, as they may not be readily solvable. Others will get immediate attention to get them out of the way. And the ones in the pack which are truly causing the majority of the mental hold-up will be pulled apart. Lessons will be learned, documented, and implemented. Progress will be made as a result. And the tougher the burn: the stronger the lesson and the better the progress. I’ve lived this to be true, and I often times have to remind myself of that fact.
These words are what it looks like when I burn it down. When I have decided to re-queue the wild issues of my time here. The feral issues of my mind. Of my current life. To distill it down to what it is that I am actually after, and what about me stands between. I hope for clarity. I hope for re-construction. I hope for progress.