At my core, there is a sense of dread, conflict, tension. On some fundamental level, I am not at peace. Some part of me needs something to happen or be that is not currently happening or being. It wants me to have more knowledge. It wants me to be wiser. It wants me to be a better writer. It wants to smoke more marijuana. It wants to smoke less marijuana. It wants to accomplish. It wants to not worry so much about accomplishing. And on and on.
I say “dread” first and foremost because what this knot of emotions and internal messaging is telling is that I’m not good enough. Something needs to change. Something’s not right. Something about me is wrong. There’s something I could and should do differently that would resolve this conflict inside me and lead me to a peaceful, meaningful life.
It follows me around everywhere I go. Sometimes at a roar. Sometimes at a whisper.
But this week, I noticed something. I was on vacation without a care in the world. I was with people I love. I didn’t need to work, or be productive in any way. I had no plans, nothing on my to-do list. I was free to do what I wanted. I could sit in the sun all day to my heart’s desire.
And that sense of tension in me was still there, gnawing at me. I had no tangible reason to feel unsettled, yet that feeling was still there, telling me that I need to do or be something different, that I wasn’t good enough. I couldn’t seem to get to a sense of peace even though there was nothing tangible that needed to be resolved. I spent much of the days in conflict with myself.
I started realizing that this knot inside me exists beyond any and all of the realities of the world around me. It’s not actually telling me anything about who I am now versus who I could or should be. Rather, it is a fixed disposition I’ve taken on regardless of what’s going on around me. Even if I accomplish my wildest dreams, this knot in me would find another hill to climb, another reason why I’m not good enough, another reason to feel unsettled, not at peace.
This tension inside me is not a product of my wants and needs. It is their cause, the thing that fuels them and gives them life.
I will never resolve this sense of dread by accomplishing anything in the external world. I can only resolve it by reckoning within myself, by consciously rewriting the rules I’ve taken on unconsciously.