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May 5th, 2021
The mind has a kind of weather. Drizzle, shower, lightning storms and hurricanes descend upon our mental experience, often in reaction to the trials and changes of life. For most, the experience is a one-to-one correlation with the weather: if the mental weather is bad, we aren’t well. But there’s a further question to ask: how do we experience the weather of our own mind? Are we that weather? Or is it possible to define ourselves and our experience as separate from the condition of our own mind?
Think of yourself as a ship within your own mind, and contemplate what Joseph Conrad has to say about ships:
“A ship is not a slave. You must make her easy in a seaway, you must never forget that you owe her the fullest share of your thought, of your skill, or your self-love. If you remember that obligation, naturally and without effort, as if it were an instinctive feeling of your inner life, she will sail, stay, run for you as long as she is able, or, like a sea-bird going to rest upon the angry waves, she will lay out the heaviest gale that ever made you doubt living long enough to see another sunrise.”
How many people treat themselves this way given the changing weather of their own mind? How few have this gentle touch with their own sense of experience? How many can rest themselves despite a tumult of angry emotion?
This is a skill to be developed and honed, like that of a sailor upon a boat with it’s intricate workings of lines, sheets, rope, sail and rudder. There is a system to the mind’s maintenance just as there’s a system to a ship’s maintenance and handling in all sorts of situations. But just as every boat is different, just as every boat has handles differently and even identically built ships have their own idiosyncrasies, every mind is different, and it’s handling is something to be learned, understood, and developed down to an art.
But, the current incarnation of culture is only slowly coming to the idea that the mind is something to learn about, and something about which we can train. For most, experience is at the whim and will of the mind’s weather, and so many are left to be tossed and pummelled and nearly drowned in the deluge of their own thought.
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