Fear, Panic, Identity and Anti-Focus (Day 2 of 30)

This is part two of a thirty day trial, during which I am going to write and publish a post every day. No refunds. Comments welcome and encouraged.

Hashtag NoFilter.
Hashbrown NoFilter.

I had a rough night. It happens, sometimes. It happens when I take risks, or worry about not taking risks. There’s often a fallout, after either of those actions.

Fear kicks back. Or whispers half-truths in my ear, in support of or against whatever decision or indecision is vulnerable to its hooks.

I think, quite often, about identity. Perhaps wrongly, I tie questions of identity to questions of focus — what should I be doing? Am I doing the right thing? What is The Answer? How do I find it?

Where can I find a steady source of peace?

But the irony of it is that I know the answer to this last question. And the whole issue is not — at least entirely — about focus.

Focus is a tricky concept, in an age of ever-present screens, of seemingly eternal streams of knowledge (and anti-knowledge) information, constantly battling for one the last remaining sources of dependable consumer revenue (our attention). Beyond this, I think, it’s only half the answer — that it’s tricky to even think clearly about focus — to questions of personal peace, and of related questions of identity that so many of us appear obsessed by in some way.

What’s been happening to me, sometimes, lately, is that I wake up panicked, in the middle of the night. Literally in the midst of a panic attack.

It’s scary, and always behind it, when it happens, I can hear the rushing tides of thoughts and anxieties that must have been rising to a flood while I slept.

I’ll be honest, I did go to bed last night with some conflict on my mind. But I did get to sleep without much trouble. All the questions of identity and focus, though, that I had been jostled by all day, I think they collapsed into each other and took my subconscious for a ride while my conscious self was recuperating from it all.

And that’s the issue, I think. It isn’t entirely about focus, about what we think about and what we do and why.

All the questioning and the pivoting and the strategizing and the testing in the world isn’t going to bring me, or anyone else, much peace of mind. Focus, action alone — these do not necessarily make for sweet-dreamed nights.

Peace of mind, rather, is just as much about intentionally losing focus. About letting go of it, and waiting, patiently, for god or chance to put us in front of where we’re meant to be, when we’re meant to be there.

No amount of flailing or thinking is going to change that. I know and believe this to be true.

But I am also entrenched in and enmeshed with worlds where it benefits those in power to keep us tired, confused, and dependent and obsessed with everything that has to be done, quickly and efficiently, without end.

For what reason? How important are all these things we fret over? More than that, how important are the current units of measure, as defined by the current elite? Identity isn’t formed by achievement. Achievement is won through struggle, by patience, as a result of choosing to engage with forces and in activities we don’t understand but need to chase.

It’s not measurable. It’s alchemical. Mysterious.

For all my internal flailing, the truth is I know who I am, what I’m meant to be doing right now, and how to do it. Like anyone else, I just get scared. And sometimes I get exhausted, in grappling with that fear.

Sometimes the fear pounces on me, when I’m vulnerable, in the middle of the night.

I can look at this another way, though, can’t I? Maybe that’s the only time all those old fears feel strong enough to gather forces for a chance at winning — temporarily, at least.

Because, fact is, I got through it (with help). I went back to sleep. I got some rest. And I woke to a bleary sight of the sun shining through a clear blue sky. I held that view for a moment, but didn’t focus on it. I didn’t think much about it, or the night before.

I just allowed myself to be here. I got up, made my tea, and here I am now still.

It’s a new day.



Writer and Filmmaker

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