Equanimity is in the depths
A thought came to me.
Yesterday, a thought came to me, and it was a shitty thought.
Thoughts come to me from time to time.
Perhaps they come to you the same way.
How they come
I might be sitting with “nothing on my mind,” and a thought comes to me. It could be about anything.
I might have my attention on a problem, and a thought about how to solve that problem comes to me.
Sometimes a useful thought comes.
Sometimes a useless thought comes.
Sometimes nothing comes.
How I write
Often I sit in front of my keyboard, perhaps to do my 750 words, and have no idea what I am going to write about.
Thoughts about what to write come to me.
If I accept one of those thoughts and turn my attention to it, my fingers start typing. The words and ideas that elaborate the thought come to me. This is the thought process and the process of writing.
Perhaps I sit in front of my keyboard, with a topic in mind. Thoughts about that topic come.
Sometimes I do things that seem to encourage some kinds of thoughts.
It seems to me that I do the things that encourage certain kinds of thoughts, but it does not seem to me that I make any specific thoughts appear.
They seem to arise by themselves.
If I ask myself a question, thoughts that answer the question arise. If I turn my attention in some direction, thoughts appropriate to that direction arise. I can prepare the field of consciousness in which thoughts arise.
But I don’t decide which thoughts arise.
The thoughts that arise might be the result of seeds that I planted some time before. But in the moment, the ideas come to me. The thoughts arise. I don’t do anything.
Yesterday’s shitty thought
As I said at the top of this essay, the thought that came to me yesterday was a shitty thought. It was an angry, annoyed, resentful thought.
I haven’t had thoughts like that in a while, so I was unprepared. For the last several weeks, my mind has been tranquil.
Other shitty thoughts followed the first one, including metashitty thoughts about the fact that my mind was being filled with shitty thoughts and metashitty thoughts about how shitty I was for not being able to get rid of them.
Then a memory arose: the first shitty thoughts had begun to appear the previous night, after many days of pleasant thoughts, tranquil thoughts, equanimous thoughts.
I’d had a day filled with frustrations. The code that I was working on didn’t work for mysterious reasons that seemed to go away only after I’d rebooted my computer.
Then it didn’t work for mysterious reasons that turned out to be a stupid mistake on my part.
Then my smartwatch disconnected itself from my phone and reinstalling and rebooting didn’t help.
Then some other shitty little first world problem.
By bedtime, agitation had replaced equanimity. I struggled to get to sleep, and finally, with the help of some chemicals, I got to sleep.
Next morning, more shit
In the morning, I woke up. I briefly looked forward to the day. Then more shitty thoughts arose.
I got crankier and crankier.
I tried to get rid of the shitty thoughts, but more appeared.
The disaster cascaded,
But finally realized this:
Thoughts arise. They appear. They go away,
I couldn’t control what thoughts arose. I might influence what thoughts arose, but I didn’t have control.
So what could I do?
I didn’t know.
A thought ecology
I tried to think ecologically: thoughts seem to arise in an environment that’s prepared for them. Once a thought arises, then like any life form, it may change the environment so that it’s hospitable for other, similar entities.
Perhaps a tranquil environment will attract tranquil thoughts, and an agitated environment invites agitation. A shitty environment invites shitty thoughts.
So what to do when too many shitty thoughts arise?
One thought was to mobilize an “army of tranquility.” But tranquility does not join armies. There can be no army of tranquility. Agitation and anxiety can join forces, but bringing in the tranquility reserve is not going to work.
Instead, I thought that the answer was something like this: to recognize that unlike agitation, which comes and goes, that equanimity is always there.
Equanimity is in the depths
Agitation is on the surface.
Equanimity is in the depths.
Why this might be true is uncertain.
Nor was it true that it is certain.
But those are the thoughts that arose.
Slowly the surface calmed. The storm blew by.
And tranquility reappeared.