Friday, May 21, 2021

Our Minds

Image: When the creek rose in 2019.

At the beginning of the week, I wanted to show someone a contract signed by myself and management regarding the TNR (trap, neuter, release) program for the small group of cats I care for. I couldn't find it. HOW CAN I NOT FIND IT? It's supposed to be filed in the TNR folder. I am supposed to file every piece of paper in the correct place. I caught my old sabotaging inner voice saying... "If you filed this one in the wrong place, what else did you file in the wrong place? What if you file something else in the wrong place?"

The next thing I knew, I was pulling out file folders, one at a time, one day at a time, looking through them, and asking... "Why am I keeping this? And this? And that?" And I started a pile of all the pieces of paper I no longer needed along with manilla filing folders I didn't need to reuse. Many of these pieces of paper only had one line underlined (think travel and finance). 

The next thought that popped into my head was Google Docs! Google Sheets! I can create documents with all this information instead of saving all this paper. In addition to all the Google Docs I already had, I created one for all my travel information and history. Yes, I had saved all my airline and amtrak tickets as well as itineraries, notes, and articles.

Just like I obsessively work on a jigsaw puzzle until two in the morning until every last piece is in its place, I found myself going through every sheet of paper... in my whole filing cabinet. But I must tell you that I recently completed a volunteer project that included doing the same thing for four crates of file folders full of paper. You could say I got hooked... although I still haven't located the piece of paper I was searching for. 😞

I got to a folder with writing projects. I found two pages from a journal I kept when I was a teenager... that included poetry I was writing. I had published most of my poetry in my two poetry books, but I evidently missed these. 

Our Minds. I was 17 when I asked all these questions. I am now 65. I can't comprehend being 17... before I read all the books I have read... listened to all the webinars and videos I listened to... took all the classes I took... discovered all the wise souls I discovered on social media... met all the people I have met and gotten to know... to know to ask the questions I asked to begin with. And all these years, I have been seeking the answers to them all. 

(I originally wrote the following in multiple lines as poetry vs the prose it is here.)

Our Minds

A young mind is as changeable as the weather, as fluttered as a bird learning to fly, as open as the air, as deep as the sea. What does a young mind become in days gone by? Does it become weary with age, hardened by time, or frozen in its ways? Were we made to understand or to accept, listen or be heard, sacrifice or save? What is in a young mind? Is it young forever? What lives in a young heart? Were we meant to be taught or to learn, fight or surrender, come together or apart? What do we do with our love, with loneliness and hate? When do we reach the top of the mountain so we can start down again and be happy with what we’ve found? When is it too late?

No wonder I didn't have any friends. I couldn't find anyone who could connect to my thoughts. I didn't know anyone I could share philosophical ideas with. I was a 65-year-old 17-year-old. Imagine what life could have been like if I found a community of poets back then. I've met many young poets who have minds like I did... and still do. 

I am going to attempt to answer my own 17-year-old questions... as if I am talking to my younger self. 

What does a young mind become in days gone by? Does it become weary with age, hardened by time, or frozen in its ways? I don't know. I am the age I am and every age I ever was. There were times when my mind was weary due to illness, brain cells destroyed by prescription medications, times when my mind was hardened due to difficult experiences, and the part that froze were based on conclusions I made that I eventually found out weren't necessarily true... which led to my challenging those conclusions. Question everything. Keep a journal.

Were we made to understand or to accept, listen or be heard, sacrifice or save? All of these. Life gets complicated. I wish I was taught these concepts when I was in school instead of history, science, and geography.

What is in a young mind? Is it young forever? It is apparently ever-changing depending on the people we spend time with and the stages of life we are in. My mother is now 90... childlike with dementia. I pray I don't end up that way. And then I question... if I pray I don't end up that way, am I making judgments about how she is? I haven't been able to see her as my mother since this happened to her ten years ago. She is a sweet, very young child.... one who can also have tantrums when she is tired or hungry. She has people taking care of her. I doubt anyone would be taking care of me. The health care agency I have now is already short-handed. The media published recent articles on elder abuse and neglect awareness. So to ramble on, this points out to me that I have a fear of being alone and isolated when I am old. I've already survived many years of being alone and isolated so I know what that is like. I never want to experience that again. And like many other people, fear of the unknown can get to you. OK. Back to the present moment.

What lives in a young heart? Were we meant to be taught or to learn, I wasn't interested in being taught what I wasn't interested in learning. I enjoyed seeking out what I was curious about and learning at my own pace. I wish I had been home-schooled and didn't have to deal with the discomfort of public school. 

fight or surrender, Sadly, I surrendered. I didn't know I had the right to fight. I didn't know how to fight. I internalized my need to fight which resulted in autoimmune reactions. I am learning to be assertive... but it takes an adrenaline rush of fight or flight each time I take assertive action. I want some kind of magic to have the ability to just plain be assertive without the fear and adrenaline rush. Or otherwise... I want a personal bodyguard to do this for me.

come together or apart? Another complicated question to answer. Sadly, with each attempt at coming together, I mostly came apart... although life has been much more stable for the last few years. I have since learned about introverts vs extroverts (extroverts like to come together and introverts prefer to stay apart), Myers-Briggs personality types (some personality types love to be around people and some don't), DISC personality types (same as the one before), being an empath (I was unknowingly coming together with everyone I was surrounded with as well as everyone they were surrounded with and had to learn the art of recognizing when this was happening, centering, and coming back into myself... separate from everyone else. Apart.)

What do we do with our love, with loneliness and hate? I have read a lot of books on this subject. I sought love in all the wrong places... outside of myself... instead of looking within... which resulted in loneliness because no one outside of you can make you feel loved if you don't love yourself... and the hate is a natural consequence of feeling abandoned and abused by others who weren't capable of loving you because they don't love themselves. 

When do we reach the top of the mountain so we can start down again and be happy with what we’ve found? I don't know about you, but there was always another mountain to climb. Happiness was fleeting... a sense of excitement about a new discovery... only to fade away until I found the next treasure, person, or situation that would make me happy. Of course, now I have learned this is normal for my personality type.

When is it too late? Mmmm... maybe it is never too late. This is a topic for lots of philosophical discussions. There are moments I wish I could go back in time and say or do something different. What would have happened if I did? Would my life have taken a completely different path? In some cases, when I thought it was too late, I was surprised to find out it was not... so it depends on the situation... like growing lots of new brain cells after I thought they were permanently damaged and gone... and being able to walk again after five years of not... and watching the plants I thought had died coming back to life in the spring. What if "too late" is just an illusion? It's all in OUR MINDS.

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