Sunday, July 7, 2024

The Rehashing Mind

I'm easily confused, so I ponder and ponder until I've brewed up some insight. Even if it takes decades! I'll go to the ends of the earth to understand better when things don't make sense to me.

I've suddenly realized, after decades of gear-spinning, that this inclination is 100% normal. Everyone does this; they nurse their confusion points, unconsciously spin gears, and periodically rehash hot topics for reconsideration. But there's an essential difference in my case: I don't dramatize it.

Sit in the window of any urban coffee shop and watch pedestrians stroll by. They're palpably consumed with mental rehashing of sore points. Re-litigating old arguments, contriving more clever responses to That Horrible Thing That Person Said, and reexamining for the hundred thousandth time their waistline, their bank balance, and ten thousand familiar points of aggrieved confusion. And scant few of them exhibit any joy.

I do what they do, but (thanks to lots of meditation) without the angst. By opting out of self-triggering and stress, I enjoy some bandwidth - some peaceful spaciousness - to muse bemusedly. There's room for insight to gather and connections to be made as sundry flips and framings are tried on for size. La dee dah. And the insights bring joy.

I'm not desperately trying to seize the reins, straighten it all out, and make things go better. I dispassionately peer at knots, obstructions, and outcomes through a microscope, crisply decked out in my starched laboratory smock, while nearly everyone else screams and flails within a virtual reality helmet perma-strapped to their heads. They experience no distance; no remove.
Here's how they reach that point: at first, they pretended to enjoy fake drama - like seeking out rollercoasters and horror movies for momentary thrills. But having over-invested in the pretending, they lose cognizance that it was their choice to begin with. The world freezes into malignity as they forget that the whole proposition was - and remains - elective. They forget their freedom to reframe!
For most people, the tedious replaying of woeful mental tapes feels like torture. Nothing good ever pops out. No golden ticket! But the rehashing is not the problem. If you can relax into it, and toy with it, and dilate rather than constrict - like learning to steer into a skid! - it becomes contemplation, sparking epiphany and insight. It's a framing thing!

Summing up: The mind’s rehashing faculty can be used for contemplation as well as for the standard neurotic self-torture. In either case, we follow instinct, aiming to trigger an epiphany which might reframe the matter and put it to rest. But you can't force it. You can't squeeze it. You can't push a string! As in all sorts of learning, it's most effective to adopt a playful, childlike approach.

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