Letters From the Eastside – Letter Five

Dear Mother Directional,

It’s amazing to think about how crazy we can make ourselves. And it’s amazing to think about all the times we’ve wished that we could just be happier or that we can live better.
I have come to the realization that there is only so much that the mind can take. We have so much room in our hearts and whether we fill our hearts (or the mind) with happiness or grief, you can never exceed more than 100% of total capacity.

Take a movie theater for example. Let’s say the theater holds 250 seats. This means there is only so much room for people. But let’s say 200 people are there to complain or talk or carry on. This means that the other 50 seats will be filled by people who are influenced by their surroundings. This means 50 happy people will be overrun and become the minority.
The mind is very much like this.
We only have so much room and should we fill this with angry people – or should we fill this with people who look to react or distract everyone from what’s on the screen – this means there’s no room for anyone to sit and enjoy the big picture. 

It’s simple math. If we only have so much room in our life to be happy, then we have to give ourselves room to think, feel, or to be happy. Otherwise, we’ll reach capacity and be filled with resentment and contempt.

I don’t know if the glass is half-full or half-empty sometimes. I know that my direction of thinking can determine whether I am going to enjoy the day or not. I know that I tend to become the sum of my assumptions. I can be angry. I can fill my head with doubts and believe in everything that’s about to go wrong.
But this is when the theater in my mind becomes distracted or filled to capacity with standing room only. All the seats are occupied. I mean this figuratively, of course, but how is there room for anything else in my life if I have already filled my thoughts with doubt and disbelief?

I go back to that idea of the mind being like a theater. The big screen is really the big picture (AKA: Life) and should this theater become crowded with the wrong crowd and should this place become standing room only, there’s no way that I will be able to enjoy the show. Hence, I’ll be distracted and miss out on the life before my eyes.

It is easy to tell someone not to think or not to feel. But it’s not so easy to stop thinking or stop feeling. The idea to just stop is an idea that just doesn’t make sense.
If I could stop depression then depression wouldn’t exist. Or, if I could just snap my fingers, there would never be another panic or anxiety attack. But the truth is I can snap my fingers and I could tell myself that there is no such thing as depression, but either way, my belief system would know that this is a lie. 

I realize why I’ve quit before. I realize why I’ve lost faith in self-help programs. And I realize the reason we quit or the reasons we fail to follow through is because of our belief system.

I mean, why try if you don’t believe that you can succeed? Or why do something if you don’t believe the reward will be enough?
Why do people fail to quit drinking or why do people fail to stop overeating? I think about this.
I think about the point of diminishing returns and how we can lose our health to a habit. The truth is we all know this is bad for us. We all know that we need to stop or that we need to change our habits yet we seem to fail ourselves and dig our holes deeper. I have come to the understanding that this is because we have to address our belief system.

I think about Cousin Contagious and his drug habit. He said he wanted to stop. Then 10 minutes later, I found out that Cousin looked to make another escape. He ran out and found himself back at corners where he picked his poison. In one breath, Cousin said he wanted to quit and in another breath, Cousin went back to the street to buy the brands that would specifically kill him.
He said he wanted to stop. But the truth is Cousin never believed that he could. On top of that, I don’t believe Cousin truly wanted to stop because I don’t think Cousin believed that he could feel better without the escape of getting high.

And dig it –
I get this.

I get it because there are times when I find myself wrapped up in my own head. I can’t think clearly because all of the thoughts in my head which are talking at once; yet, there I am trying to watch the show and see the big picture. But once more, I miss the plot.
I need a way to calm down. I need a fix or something to at least placate the crowd for a while. Pills helped, but only so much. Eventually, the movies in my head were either tragedies or psychological thrillers that never seemed to end well.

The truth is I never believed in myself. So, therefore, if I never believed that good things could last or that I could be “The next best thing,” I would only understand the concepts of instant gratification.
Do you see what I mean? Why would I plan for the future if I never believed the future was possible?
I would never believe that good things come to those who wait. So then why wait at all?
All I would ever want was the quick fix. I would always want the thrust of instant gratification, by any means necessary, which means this would blur the lines of my healthy choices. This means I would sacrifice good values for a bad idea and a quick fix. 

I think Cousin Contagious goes through the same things as I do. I think he can relate. In fact, I know he can.
I heard from Cousin Courageous the other night. It amazes me how she faces her fears and never backs down. She is the bravest of them all, my Cousin Courageous.

She told me that this does not mean she is not afraid or that she doesn’t feel the pain. All she said was she feels the same as other people do. She has challenges. She has reasons to quit or give up. Yet, she still carries on with her special secret of endurance.
Mother, I think my Cousin is the greatest in the world. This is not because of her looks or because of her personality. No, I think she is the best in the world because she does not hesitate to expose her worst bouts. She does not back down from her demons at all. Instead, Cousin Courageous invites her demons to the center stage – and she points at them and shines the light on her darkest fears.

She told me nothing can be so dark if you shine a light on it. No fear can be so deep and no worry can be so big if we face them and trim them down to their truthful size, which is small but ah, those seats in our mental theater are small as well. I want to keep this room from filling to capacity. I want to stop this head space from keeping me from seeing the lights on the big screen.

My attention is not always what I want it to be. Maybe this is because I have too many movies playing at one time.
How am I going to understand the big picture when I have so many commercial interruptions that distract me from the plot?

I know that I have to stop the wheels of my thinking before they speed up too quickly. I know I have to do this before I lose control of the wheel. I know that I have to start practicing mindfulness. And I know that trusting you with these letters might be unsettling – I mean, this is strange to admit as it is but I have to leave this here with you. Otherwise, the results will be unfortunate.
These details are hard to address and these details are hard to admit. But either way, I admit to the depths of my dysfunctions. I admit to my shortcomings and my defects of character. These are the intruders of my mental movie theater. 

I have to have the usher be more careful with who he lets in my theater. And, if he (namely me) lets too many people in or if the usher loses control of the room, I’ll have to remind him that his job is crowd control. We let too many thoughts snowball into a haywire convention of too much shit happening at one time. Then we miss what’s going on. We miss the big picture. Or better yet, we miss the chance to be happy with what we see on the big screen. 

Mother, I lose focus sometimes and find myself becoming one of the unruly people who occupy a seat in that movie theater.

If I only have so much room in my head or in my heart, I want to start to fill it with ideas that help me to think better, feel better, and live better.
I need to do more quality control with my thought consumption. In short, I have to keep it simple. Life is complicated enough. I can’t run the dialogue anymore or keep the mental narrative going. Otherwise, I’ll start believing in my predictions. Unless my predictions are about being happy or successful, I have to stop giving in to the monologues in the brain that predict my misery. 

We are what we think. Well, for me to improve this, my guess is I will have to improve my thinking.

You think?

I love you, Mother.
Thanks for listening.

Love always,
Your son


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