Ten words that sum up the essential absurdity of life.
There we are, caught in some fraught tussle, all our thoughts and emotions “crowding together/in fevers of movement”, zealously dedicated to whatever dance we’re two-stepping through: an argument, a worry, some passionate pursuit, a novel, a webpage.
And then suddenly we’re off on the next thing. Because our minds are just not capable of focusing on multiple tasks (research suggests we can only really “task switch”). Before we know it, all our energies are in the next dance.
But what about the dance we’ve been so ardently involved in? We keep it as a memory, sometimes a tender spot, a loss. But most of it, even the incredible pain and joy ones, maybe thankfully, is dispersed.
And who calls ‘Next’? It is, as I suspect an arbitrary, environment-triggered stimulus? Are we back in Malcolm Mooney Land being “used” by language, by all the task-switching calls to our attention, yanking us this way and that, from one dance to the next?
A core component to any abiding mental health issue is the feeling of being “out of control”. Spiritual and psychotherapeutic traditions often work with this by encouraging people to try and befriend the topsy-turviness. But they also, paradoxically, emphasize other forms of containment, restraint, and administration. Meditation, deferred gratification, or paying a sum of money to someone to talk. All one.
This is because it soothes us this feeling of being in control, even if the control is from an objective standpoint wholly illusory.
Learning poetry is a way of attaining some sense of agency in language, if just for a minute or two. Here’s my minute, reciting Angus’s poem by heart: