When we strip away everything we own, what is left? When we have nothing to do, nothing to look at, no distractions?
We have our own thoughts.
And as anyone who’s been awake at 3:30am before will know, our thoughts can often be incredibly unwelcome.
Experimenting with quiet, with no devices, screens, stuff or sounds to distract me, my mind starts to wander into dangerous territory. I start worrying about things I should have done but haven’t. I worry about my children, my parenting skills, my work skills, my unfulfilled goals, my clients, my marriage, my health, my appearance. I think of the times I spoke tactlessly before thinking, or re-live those times I was humiliated in public or bullied at high school. You name it, it will pop up.
I want to run away from those thoughts. I want to hide from them with Instagram or a word game. With Netflix or chocolate. With going through my stationery draw and reorganising it. With buying a new pair of shoes. With reading a blog.
What if you consider the idea that you might be collecting or keeping stuff to protect you from these worries – that you may busy yourself shopping, tidying or organising so that you aren’t alone with your thoughts?
What if you consider the idea that you fill your schedule with busy-ness, spend time staring at your phone and volunteer to do stuff for others, so that you aren’t worrying about your life?
I don’t have the antidote to worrying – I’m doing it myself and am wondering how to turn it off. But I do know that hiding from it doesn’t help. The thoughts are still there, no matter what we do to try to cover them up.
Maybe, if we strip everything away and we sit with all that remains, we can find another way to quiet our mind that doesn’t involve running away from it.