Bret W. Lester

Messy Mind

Occasionally, perhaps at junctures in life, the mind cannot focus; it is directionless. Among the swirling soup of thoughts is uncertainty; uncertainty about how to proceed.

It can be observed on a graph of something like daily active users of a productivity app that consistent patterns exist. For example activity consistently slumps leading up to the new year then picks up again in the weeks following. Then something unexpected seems to occur where activity slumps again after the first few weeks of the new year. The first pattern makes sense because people are typically on vacation that time of year but the second pattern is not as easy to explain.

While I don’t know why the second pattern occurs, or know much of anything for that matter, I find it curious that it corresponds with my own struggles with a messy mind. So why not indulge the inferences to be made here?

The time leading up to the new year is a time of reflection. People have time away from their employed existence where they can think about the true nature of things, make plans to change things, get inspired. Then, the reality of employed life returns where their plans of change and growth are met with cold hard reality and after a few weeks, their shiny new perspectives and plans are widdled away to a shell of their former selves. From here the messy mind emerges where people are left reconciling the inclinations of their individual natures with the unyielding force of the broader culture.

Collectively, each incompatible mind finds something in common and the culture moves slightly. But it is relatively immovable compared to the mind of the individual. So the individual is left reeling; left to contend with a tumultuous mind.


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