The Something of Doing Nothing

I’ve come to a point in my life where I am not as creative nor am I as in tune with my own thoughts and feelings as I used to be. This has greatly increased my anxiety and depression as well as made it painfully difficult at times to deal with everyday situations. Writing has been, for most of my life, the main outlet for my thoughts and emotions. I have often said that I don’t know what I really think or feel about something until I’ve written about it. Since I’ve had more and more to occupy my time and have opened my journal less and less, I feel like I have lost something, I feel like I am barely holding together even though many things in my life are going well. Even when I sit down and try to write, try to unblock those rivers, my mind is cloudy and I can’t really focus; I can’t really get much more than a few drops out. I’ve realized (I’ve known all along, really) that one of the main things holding me back is the fact that I am always doing, even when I’m just relaxing. I’m always doing school work or running errands or reading something or watching videos or listening to podcasts or making plans or organizing or researching or spending time with people, etcetera. None of these things are bad, it’s just that there is something very important that I’ve stopped doing: nothing. I’ve stopped staring out of the window and letting my mind wander. I’ve stopped moving my pen aimlessly, drawing unidentifiable shapes as I explore my own thoughts and memories. I’ve stopped sitting down to write about nothing in particular, just to get it out. I’ve stopped laying on the floor and praying about anything and everything that comes to mind. These are the things that used to keep me sane. These are the things that helped me to reflect and to understand what was really going on in my head. These are the things that kept my creative juices flowing and my fictional characters breathing and my head on relatively straight. I somehow adopted the idea that it would be a waste of time to do such things, that if I was going to just sit and relax, I might as well be watching, reading, or listening to something, or I should be going somewhere. I forgot that I have to stop to really think – even if I’m afraid of what I might discover. Many, if not all, great writers and thinkers take time to do nothing, to just stare, to just think. Great minds understand the importance of spending quality time alone with themselves. I think many of us focus so much on the importance of community and of spending time with others and the importance of productivity that we forget that it is equally important to spend time in our own minds, even if only for a few minutes in our busy schedules.

PS – I have been trying to write about this for a while now, but have had trouble writing it just the way I want it. Then I saw this video talking about pretty much the same thing and figured I should just get it out, no matter how much I disapprove of the way I wrote it. Anyway, I thought I’d also share said video. Though the writer of it is not of my worldview, I agree with most of what is expressed there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lz-qrVUecE

Questions of Identity

Recently, I was working on a trial-run-basis for a small business as a receptionist. I worked for them for about a week and a half (I didn’t end up getting hired, but I’m not going to go into that because that is not what this post is about). While I worked there, I worked full-time almost every day of the week. Since I was spending so much of my time working there and it was so different from how I had previously been spending my time, I noticed that I started to feel…different. And not in the way that I would have expected. I started to see myself differently – not better, not worse, just different. I felt like I was a different person, but only just. Like my identity was somehow shifted because I spent a good amount of my time being a receptionist rather than, say, a writer, or a cook, etc. And I started to feel a bit strange. I started asking questions of myself that I didn’t really have time to answer, nor even really think about. The main question was this: Am I really defined by what I do? By how I spend my time? If I am spending my time doing something different, does my identity change? (okay I guess that is more than one question…but hey, teachers do that all the time…).
After I found out that I didn’t have the job, I started to think seriously about what I really want to do with my time. Should I really push to do something that I have a passion for, or should I simply find something that I am qualified to do that helps me pay the bills? Should I save my passions for the things that I do outside of the workforce? I don’t really think there is an easy answer for those questions.
Is my identity defined by what I do or by how I do them? Or, perhaps I should ask: How is identity defined? What is my identity, really? As a Christian, there are some easy answers: I am a created being made in the image of the Creator; I am a child of God, chosen and saved by grace; I am a part of the church, the bride of Christ; and so on and so forth. Then there are the relational answers: I am a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin, a friend, an acquaintance, a stranger, a subordinate. Or the general: I am a human, a female, a 22-year-old, an American of European decent, a college graduate, an introvert, a redhead. But we know that there is more to a person than these things. God is complex and creative and  He made us complex and distinctive. So what else is it that defines us? How do we really say who a person is? And, moreover, does it really matter? It feels like it matters, but that doesn’t mean that it does.

…I realize that this post is very unsatisfying and is basically one gigantic question-mark… but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I’d love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to post a comment or communicate with me by any other means. I am especially interested in any scripture references that might speak to this topic.

Perceptions

I have recently read the book Paper Towns (by John Green) and, not only did I thoroughly enjoy the story, I leaned from it. The book is ultimately about perceptions and how we imagine each other. I have two things to talk about considering these things.

1. At one point in the book, one of the characters talks about expectations. He basically said that we should not be mad at other people for not being the way we think they should be. For example, if someone is late to things all the time, we shouldn’t be mad that they aren’t on time, like we expect they should be, because being late is just part of who they are. And we should accept that and remember that there are other reasons to like that person, and our opinion of them shouldn’t be based on their flaws. This made me re-think a lot of things regarding some of my friends and family, and even myself. I realized that I was getting upset at people for not being like me. And it also occurred to me that they were looking at me in the same way. It’s really interesting if you think about it. This could also be helpful in dealing with the people around you.

2. The second point is similar: People often do not see other people as they really are, no matter how well they know them. We imagine each other a certain way and are normally very wrong about our imaginings. People may not be who we think they are, and maybe we should be careful how quickly and easily we draw conclusions. The pictures you have painted of the people in your life may be completely inaccurate.

Does Mind=Soul?

Today, in my psychology class, my professor talked bout the relationship between mind and body(more specifically, mind and brain). He introduced to us the two main views of this subject: Mind-Body Dualism and Psychophysical Monism. Mind-Body Dualism is the view that the mind and the brain are separate, that mind is not physical. Psychophysical Monism is the view that the mind and brain function are one and the same, “all mental events are physical.” 
Psychophysical is the more accepted view as far as science today goes. I think this is because most scientists today do not believe that we have souls(or at least infer that we don’t).
I personally believe that humans, in fact, do have souls. So naturally I lean more toward the Mind-Body Dualism view. These ideas really fascinated me and I pretty much spent the rest of the class time thinking about it. I was thinking that maybe the mind is the soul. Or maybe the mind is part of the soul. But my professor brought up an interesting point: physical events seem to effect the mind(mental processes). For example, drugs change mental processes and the way your mind perceives things. So does that prove the mind to be physical? Or perhaps physical events can, in fact, effect the soul. Maybe different physical experiences simply change our minds, and the way we think because of how we feel… maybe?

Comments? I’d love to hear what you have to say about this. 

I wonder if the Bible has any insights on this. If you know of any scripture that talks about this, let me know.

A Few Things

There are a few things that have come to my attention recently and have been at the forefront of my mind lately. 

#1: I’ve noticed that I am more judgmental and prideful than I thought I was. I just cringed a little bit as I typed that sentence, because those are character flaws that I really hate admitting that I posses. Well, judgement and pride aren’t always something I consider to be flaws, but when they are taken too far, they are horrible. I’ve realized that often I cannot tell the difference between pre-judging and reasonable logic. I have been having expectations due to conclusions I came to with what I thought was analytical reasoning, but was actually just prejudice (and for those of you who don’t understand that prejudice does not always pertain to race, well…I’m not talking about race haha). I have been very prideful in thinking that I already knew details of situations, because of “clues” I picked up on. Ugh, so basically I am ridiculous. And I apologize if you have been subject to this. Seriously, next time you see that I am doing this, CALL ME OUT ON IT! I need to be put in my place sometimes. 

#2: I have been noticing how extremely hard it is for most people to shut their mouths and just listen. One of my friends (she knows who she is) is having a difficult time because many people are not listening to her, they simply have formed their own opinions about a certain matter and will not even let her make a point. They don’t listen to her objectively. They have their mind set, and will not shake from it. I have also been subject to such subjective listening. Sometimes people just don’t take the time to hear the whole story. So I urge you, next time a friend is talking to you about something, shut your mouth, fix your eyes on them and just listen. And while they are talking, don’t focus on your own opinions that are floating around in your head, be a blank slate and try to see where they are coming from. Seriously it’s not that hard. 

#3: Lately I have realized how completely different everything is in my life now compared to last year. Many of you know of all the changes that have occurred, losing my mom, graduating high school, gaining many more responsibilities, fending for myself a bit more…well I won’t go in to much detail because those things really aren’t the point of this paragraph. What has really amazed me is how my way of thinking and some of my opinions have changed. I think what has happened is I started to think for myself more instead of letting authority figures and people I look up to form my thoughts and opinions. I guess it is fitting that this is also the year I will be voting for the first time haha. It is very refreshing and re-assuring to be looking at things differently. There are things that I never would have imagined questioning that I now disagree with. If someone would have told me that I would change my views on such matters I would have laughed in their face. Well, I probably wouldn’t do that, but what I mean, of course, is I would not believe them. But yeah, I just found that to be interesting. And that’s all I really have to say about that for now.

If you read all of that, thanks. I didn’t even want to read over it myself haha

Oh, the silence.

Lately I have not really been upset about losing my mother, I haven’t been missing her as much as I did when it all happened. Today I realized why that was. I have been surrounding myself with noise. I have been subconsciously guarding myself from thinking about her by never letting it get quiet. I always have music playing, or the television on in the background, or I have friends over, etc. Today I decided to not turn on anything for a while, thinking it might be relaxing. But I came to realize that the silence causes me to feel and think the things I was trying to suppress. I keep tearing up because suddenly my mother is all that I can really think about. Suddenly I miss her more deeply than I have before. 
All that noise is ruining me. I have shut myself off to who I really am and what I really feel and think.
Today I just feel…odd. Things are not the way they should be, and they haven’t been for quite some time, but I haven’t allowed myself to stop and think about it, so I didn’t realize it until now.

I guess I need to remember how sobering silence is and take the time to shut things off and realize where I am and what I am doing.