The Mind and its Master

When I’m on the treadmill, I can escape my thoughts. It’s not that I outrun them, it’s actually the opposite, I’m full of thoughts — it’s more like my thoughts become one with my body, my movements. Each footfall and breath are in synch with the neurons firing through my mind. A peaceful rhythm happens sometime after two miles… I escape my thoughts by becoming one with them. Like defeating an enemy by making them your friend.

Fear can chase you right out of your shoes. Just sitting there at your desk in the middle of the day. Fear can sneak up on you and crawl up your pants and hide itself in your pocket. You don’t notice until you’re at the shop ordering a sandwich and you pull out a receipt, or some note you left for yourself, (Get milk tonight) and all the corrupting memories and doubts instantly attack you, and you wonder how it is you get through the day without breaking down in tears at every red light or bathroom stall. You realize that Audrey Hepburn once radiated blinding youthful beauty but now she’s dead, decomposing underground, as you and I will be one day. You realize you carry around your regrets like a cell phone, and it’s always ringing.

My brain is constantly running. It makes a little whirring sound, like a laptop left on too long. The hamster won’t ever get off its wheel. It’s hard to sleep when your mind is rewinding the day and conducting stupid thought experiments and reliving conversations. (When she said, ‘I love you,’ You should have told her, ‘You’ve got a funny way to show it.’)

It’s almost like your mind is its own master, and you are its servant.

Life tends to kick you when you’re down. Your mother died, you lost your job, your best friend won’t return your calls, but it’s the paper cut at the end of the day that makes you lose it.

I cut my hand today opening a bag of Trader Joe’s Veracruz style Tilapia.  The end of the knife made a perfect little hole in my palm. The blood came out fresh and red as a stop sign. It looked so pure I daubed it with my fingertip and licked it off. It didn’t hurt, but I wanted to howl and wail, I wanted to weep salty buckets. I wanted somebody to take pity on me for my little booboo.

Still, I think the fish had the worst of it in this encounter.

I meditate. I read poetry. I share small jokes with good friends. I curse just enough, but not too much. I write short stories about humble people. I’m not trying to make a big deal out of it, but I’m a pretty good human being.

So why do I always feel so shitty about life?

Because life is suffering, repeating and colorful suffering. We’re born into this Karma cycle and the only way out is death (and nobody’s looking forward to that too much). It doesn’t matter how much money you make, or how many girls you have, or if you’ve never broken a bone in your body. The mind can make a rich man feel poor, a beautiful woman look at herself with disgust, a cowboy feel trapped by the range.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste, but an even worse thing to listen to sometimes.

Then again, these are just some thoughts my mind has cranked out at one o’clock in the morning instead of letting me fall asleep. I wouldn’t pay it any attention. It’s just trying to make itself known.

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