It’s been a while since I’ve allowed myself to think. “Allowed?”. Yes, allowed. “But isn’t thinking involuntary?”. It is. A little like breathing in that sense, it goes on unnoticed until you stop and pay attention. Or you decide to just plain stop. To stop breathing, to hold back the air. The same way, you decide to stop thinking, to hold back certain thoughts. But then, like breathing, there’s only so long you can hold back, only so long you can tame the force, before the flood gates burst open with such fierceness it’s almost as if you’re flung out of your own body. A force more literal in the first case, but more overwhelming in the latter. “And what then, once the barrier has given way?”. After a near crippling shock to the body, the survival mechanism kicks in. You breathe. Short, rapid and involuntary at first, then gradually slower, deeper and more deliberate.
Sadly that’s where the similarity between thinking and breathing ends.
The body, better equipped to recover from such anomalies, steadies itself almost immediately, and very soon a familiar rhythm sets. The mind however, takes the hit, the blow of the barrage of suppressed thoughts, much harder. And the real reaction begins only once the water has steadied. “But why?”. Because the mind is notorious for the deathly calm after the storm, when the tempest has passed but the water still hasn’t cleared. It is in those turbid waters that the most connections are made, that you begin the see patterns where earlier there were none. Ironically it’s amidst this murkiness that the most glaring realizations dawn upon you.
And then you let yourself think.
You let yourself see all the things you’d convinced yourself would take care of themselves with time.
You let yourself see all the things you swept under the carpet, you let yourself see all the things you shoved into the closet.
You let yourself see that jigsaw puzzle with the vacant spot, you let yourself see your clenched fist with the missing piece.
There’s something frightening, near sinister about this unexpected and near instantaneous clarity. “Frightening?”. Yes, because it challenges the status quo, because it dares you to take charge, because it hints that you may have been a coward, because it suggests you’re settling for less, because it pulls you out of your comfort zone, because it rocks the boat.
At the same time, there’s also something uplifting about this daunting lucidity. Because it screams that you deserve better, because it makes you see you can rid yourself of that niggling annoyance, because it makes you realize you’re capable of more, because it shows you a stronger you, because it makes you believe in yourself.
The revelations, they can go either way. They can be enlightening (you realize your calling) or devastating (you realize a longstanding faith was completely unfounded); depending on what you’ve been keeping yourself from pondering upon. Neither is bad, neither is better, neither is avoidable, neither is unnecessary. And one way or another it can be one of those turning points, where you either take an action or change a perspective; and it has the potential, should you choose to let it, to define or redefine you.
But that’s the catch. You’re still in control. You’re still the one who makes that choice.
Whether to grab it by the horns or to get another closet to keep it out of sight.
Whether to swim to shore or to hang on to driftwood in the hope that one day it will take you there.
Whether to breathe or to hold it in for the next time.