September 12, 2014
The mind is a fickle beast. It renders life a matter of interpretation. It messes with facts the way a cat messes with a catnip mouse. Let's take an example of a fact and the way the mind can squeeze the texture of reality into the most paradoxical experiences.
Here's a fact: I pay $700 a month to live with my partner in a 38 foot motor home. That's for site rent, water, sewage and a generous stipend of electricity. Interpretation #1---we are poor white trash who can't afford a mortgage and are forced to live in a funky campground with people over whom we have no control.
Interpretation #2: Our overhead is so low that I can afford to work fifteen hours a week and devote the rest of my time to writing, photography and study.
Here is a fact and my mind has entertained both outcomes of this fact. Interpretation #1 hit me during May of this year when I plunged into a consuming depression. I felt like such a failure! A man at my age with no money, no property, few possessions and even fewer so-called "fans" of my artistic work. After all, EVERYTHING in my life has been about my artistic work. At sixty six, it's a little late to go back and study accounting.
Depression is no joke: it can kill you. This one was a dragon, and I was fighting for my life while it was able to breathe fire. When the smoke cleared I wanted to wrap its ashes in a little package and put it on the dashboard as a reminder that I'm not immune to savage and destructive thoughts.
Interpretation #2 is certainly just as true as #1 and far more comforting. So, dear audience? Which door should I open? Shout it out! #2! #2! Okay, okay. The problem is that the mind is like a feral donkey. It won't be cajoled; it won't be baited. It won't obey the commands of logic. It allows the nearest emotion to get on its back and then it goes crazy, it takes its rider (your Self) on a wild, bucking ride across a surreal landscape of irrational urge and desire. At last it tires and lets you (and your feelings) get off its heaving flanks and regain some composure. This is the reason that all studies of consciousness, from psychology to esoteric Buddhism, focus on the mind. The fickle beast of the mind is a problem second only to mortality itself.