Occasionally, there is a calm in the storm.
A bird’s eye view of bipolar:
It’s time away from the rawness of everything being too real. A time when I can reflect. When the extremes lead to insights that can be sorted, categorized, caricatured. Times like this I can hope that others, whatever the form of their experiences take, can relate in some way.
Today I feel more balanced than I have in some time. I remember my intelligence, while fully aware it may not make me better than anyone else: I attempt humility.
I know these cycles will continue turning the tides in my mind. I know there will be struggle again; riding the waves, treading water, floating, crashing to shore, having the urge to sink. But right now—I feel better.
I remember times I’ve told the truth while feeling lucid. I remember times I’ve told truths with something resembling vengeance, feeling righteous, only to be confronted with the stark disapproval of others, and later, to question whether my perception of those truths were valid. To question reality, perception, the mind, my mind, the mind of others, the collective mind of a group.
I remember the chances I’ve taken in life. I remember also the times my life and mind were shaken, sometimes one before the other, a chicken-and-egg paradox. The subsequent disintegration, the slow reconstructions.
I remember the uncertainties, the confusions, the clear messages and the mirages. The sense of loss that recurs and can’t be filled, the scorching effects of my emotions and reactions to events and revelations, felt deep in the body, to the point that the worst memories can be physically relived.
I wonder about the real meaning of strength and of weakness.
I remember the mind is part of the body. I remember the tepid swamp where I was cultivated, and the lotus that blooms from the muck. I also know it relies on that very environment for sustenance, and remains rooted there. I remember that all of us are born into a watery world, where there may be patterns and where there is certainly uncertainty.
I remember I’m part of this world and this process. But I know, at some point soon, I’ll feel somehow above or below this again. I’ll feel better than the world, a wise stranger, or an inept and confused traveler.
And I know, soon enough, I may resent the world again. I’ll lose patience with short-sightedness and blind ambition. I’ll be weary of life. I’ll ponder the seemingly absurd trends and behavior that seem at times to foretell the eventual demise and hopelessness of what we call progress.
I’ll remember far too vividly that life is not fair, even if my life is looking up.
I’ll be overwhelmed by circumstances I can’t control, by problems facing everyone and everything, astonished that life goes on, and, most likely, disappointed at the relentless forward march. I’ll be astounded that people in one place can go about life with blinders on, imagining they’re immune to misfortune.
I’ll assume I’m better, somehow, than those who don’t care to imagine themselves in the shoes of others. And then, stepping back, I’ll try to see through the eyes of those who don’t seem to care, or don’t seem to consider those alternate situations and realities, and try to understand why. I’ll be perplexed by apathy, knowing I could be saner succumbing to it.
I’ve been asked why I get upset about issues that don’t seem to directly affect me. But I see the world as a tepid pool in which anyone can come into contact with anything. Where everyone is faced with the consequences of the actions of everyone. Where thoughts, actions and intentions, like organisms, can develop, each contending with, growing within, and being contaminated by the very environment in which they are conceived and bred.
To presume that we are independent, that we exist without this turbid environment, seems ridiculous and illogical.
To think that something doesn’t affect me, when it may at any time, reeks of indifference. Ah, but this indifference might just be necessary for individual, emotional survival, or so I’ve been told.
For now, I embrace my clear-headedness.
All I can do is remember those conclusions my extreme shifts of mood have produced over a lifetime, and hope they’ve served some purpose or may make me useful, even if all they’ve done is given me a certain perspective.
None of us has ever had a unique thought, but we’ve incorporated those thoughts into who we are in arguably unique ways. The cynicism, the skepticism, the hope, the confidence, the self-loathing, the optimism and the belief in the power of focused action, and the sense of futility…all of these come together and form “me.”
I can only look forward to the elusive periods of relative lucidity, when the angst in my mind calms and compartmentalizes itself into neat packages I can sort, and perhaps work on.
I know I have the capacity to try to change the things I despise in the world.
I know that when the clouds in my mind shift and break apart, there remains someone who feels deeply and has a sense of purpose. I’ll always wonder about my brain chemistry and my mood swings, and whether they serve any purpose in helping me develop character and become the change I want to see in the world. I often fear the turbulent times are just an accident of nature which serve no purpose except to be obstacles with no reward. I often see life as a game I don’t care to learn to play.
Life goes on, and I try, as everyone should, to make sense of my inner turmoil, and try to grow within it, and work within the environment in which I was conceived and bred. I must attempt, for my own satisfaction, to cultivate myself and make some contribution to the world.
I’ll be angry, again, at man’s inhumanity, and the misconception that the universe is both the mining-ground and the playground of humanity. I’ll feel superior to others, ironically, who consider themselves superior, because I’ll assume that, at least, I recognize that trait and attempt humility.
And I’ll forget, for a bit, again, that I’m human.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Chiara Cremaschi/Flickr