Nevs’s New Thing 491 #1
I’ve been wondering about posting this for the last few days, but I woke up this morning and realised the only reason I wouldn’t is that someone might not like what I’m saying, and that’s not very important, really, so:
After 30 years, I have finally learned how to get my brain to shut up.I realise that sounds odd, but after a few ‘Long Nights Of The Soul’ over the last year, I’ve realised that in all honesty, that has been my driving force life. Every toy, every comic, every job, every achievement, every column I’ve written, every drug, every game has all been pursued or written with the idea that ‘THIS thing, once I get THERE, I will be at peace, the storm in my head will cease and I will finally be able to relax.’
That was what I was after but for me, that isn’t how it works. None of these things are real. They’re nice. It’s nice to say I’ve written dozens of columns, that I’ve performed everywhere from Ealing Broadway to Egypt and back, but they weren’t the answer to the question I’d been searching for my whole life, which is ‘Why can’t I get some peace?’
Worse, I’d achieved it at some points in my life, which sounds amazing, and it is. When you finally know some serenity, when the noise of life just doesn’t bother you anymore, that is the peak feeling in the world, but then, much like the phrase ‘Chasing The Dragon’ , your mind becomes consumed with ‘Which 19 things did I do to get there? Okay, redid them. Now, why hasn’t that happened? Oh, wait, there’s a new Spider-Man crossover out. Maybe if I collect all of that. No. Maybe if I start drinking? Stop drinking? Anti-Depressants? Hmm, still, no.’
(This is where it possibly gets a bit meta-physical for 7am on a Thursday morning.)
The truth is, none of those things could be the solution, anymore than a bag of chips could work as a pair of shoes, because what I was searching for was something to cure the internal, and there is nothing in the external world that can solve that. You can’t buy Inner Peace. You can’t go out with someone and expect them to fix you. (A mistake I’ve made far too many times, and I apologise sincerely to everyone I’ve ever been out with for that and for using you as some kind of Peace Pit Stop. People aren’t living Prozac, and if that’s why you’re with someone, you’re wasting both your and their time.)
Truth is, laughable and pathetic as it is to say it, every time I’ve kicked off about anything, the root of it has been ‘This concept you’re presenting me with has the potential to fuck with my Serenity, man, and I don’t like it. I don’t know how to explain it to you, so I’m going to try and argue against it until you remove that concept from my reality.’ And I’m really embarassed to say that’s what it was.
So, what changed?
I’ve said before that quitting drinking was incredibly simple for me, much as I know that’s annoyed people who want it to be a big dirty struggle with romantic notions of facing the sunrise and feeling some degree of achievement for conquering The Big Bad, it was really just ‘Don’t ask for alcohol when you’re at the bar.You know things tend to go quite badly when you’ve been drinking, so just…don’t drink booze.Ask for a pint of Orange Juice every time. Then you can stay in the pub as long as you like and still enjoy yourself. You know you’re smart enough to dismiss anyone who tells you that “A Real Man Drinks.” or whatever.
Well, here’s the thing, most of my problems were either regretting what I’d done/being angry over what people had done to me, or fearing what would come if this person left me, I didn’t have a job, or how people would react if they knew what I’d done and because of that, I was never really here. Not here in the moment. My mind was a constant storm of anger, or fear, or elation for the future. But there are two things I’ve learned that have changed that process:
1) You are not your thoughts.
You are no more your thoughts than the M25 is a load of cars. Your brain has thoughts passing through it, but (And this is the key thing.) you don’t have to follow them. Any of them. ‘Oh man that guy and his four kids are taking up the pavement and why do I have to be stuck behind them bad mood.’. STOP.
You don’t have to follow that thought process at all, you don’t need to let those thoughts dictate your mood until something else impresses itself onto your mind. You don’t even have to think at all.
Again, and I know this runs counter-intuitive to everything in modern life, you don’t have to think at all. In the imagination there are an infinite amount of problems you can twist yourself up with, but…
2)..None of them are real, except the ones that directly affect you right now. What colour is reputation? What does resentment smell like? How much does achievement weigh? Chasing the intangible is literally madness. How many things are just ‘If this happens, people will say nice things, and THEN I’ll be justified.’
And once you let go of all that, you stop trying to drive a thought process that isn’t real in the first place towards a state of being that is by it’s nature impermeant…THEN Love happens. You realise you’ve never really slept well, that you should probably eat something, you’ve actually not seen your mates for three months and you can hang out with them, you don’t have to be around anyone who tries to make you feel bad, you can spend a day writing an essay or shagging or translating Virtua Pro Wrestling 2 from Japanese to English (Ahem.) because other people’s definitions of who you are and what you should be doing just aren’t real things.
So, in closing, all my wars are over, everyone is unblocked, I forgive everyone who’s wronged me and it doesn’t really matter if I’m forgiven by them or not. Remember, your thoughts are not you.
Shame is a fiction.
Love is Real.