I guess one of my “linguistic” influences is physics, because I realized today that I often visualize myself as a pendulum. When I am unsettled, overwhelmed, troubled, I watch myself swing back and forth, my emotions yo-yo-ing, my thoughts oscillating from one interpretation to another. (Apparently it’s a pendulum in multiple dimensions.)
The important thing, though, is that the system is damped, that the pendulum will eventually — and you can count on this — come to rest. That is, so long as you don’t drive it further. I’ve come to realize that my job, when I feel myself bouncing around like a pinball inside of my skin, is to get out of the way, to allow the natural damping of the system to take effect. Sometimes it feels like, when the pendulum is swinging to the right, you need to pull hard to the left, or vice-versa; but the truth is, this tends to just stir things up. The best approach seems to be to simply allow the pendulum to come to rest on its own*.
It’s very Buddhist, actually.
The classic text talks about the two arrows: The Buddha asks his disciples, “If you are struck by an arrow, does it hurt?” One of them says yes, it does. “And if you are struck by a second arrow,” the Buddha continues, “is that not even more painful?” The audience once again agrees, beginning to hope that this teaching is not going involve audience participation. “Well,” explains the Buddha, “the first arrow is the inevitable suffering that you will encounter simply by being alive. But the second arrow — this arrow is optional. It is the compounding of our suffering that results from our unhealthy preoccupation and engagement with it.”
So I guess I’m not being all that original.
… but I do enjoy my image.