There’s always something, some thought or problem that is using or draining my attention. That is one of the greatest addictions of my brain: to have a problem to solve. There are things that cannot be left without being understood or solved. These specific type of thoughts produce a feeling that is hard to describe, but basically, you are “engaged” with the thing. Is a drama that is somehow interesting, it requires attention. And so it stops being just a simple problem. A simple problem is a practical thing, is something that has a solution, something where my ego is not necessarily involved. A problem is a riddle in a magazine, is measuring pieces of wood to build a box, is making maths. That is a problem. But in these other things, there is a different quality to it, a different taste. The person is constantly thinking about it. Is being tormented by it. Is involved with it. There are emotions, frustration. Is that topic that repeats itself day after day. Is easy to notice in others because they are usually talking about that topic.
Once I have perceived a problem of that kind, I have to take care of it somehow and find it a solution. I assume this happens to most people with a different intensity. Maybe the outer shape of the problem changes but the way of handling it is, in essence, the same. Some people have problems related to their health, or relationships, or work. But the pattern is the same: Once I meet my prince charming, once I pick the right decision, once the thing I’m waiting for happens, my life is gonna be figured out. It doesn’t matter which ambit of life is it about, once I can solve that problem and find the perfect solution, everything is gonna be fine. How that salvation looks like on the outside it doesn’t matter.
I have the theory that gifted folks tend to stay stuck to the problems longer. This is just my idea, I have no clue if it is actually true. But I think that as soon as we see a problem, we tend to grab it and not let it go until is solved, until we can grasp it. It becomes an obsession very quickly. And in that moment is when the relationship changes: is no longer me trying to solve a problem, is the problem the one who is chasing me. That’s why I say it becomes an addiction, something I no longer have control over. I think about it all the time, which is exhausting. It makes me think about what the book “The Highly Sensitive Person” says: People with higher sensitivity is more vulnerable or sensitive to a certain stimulus, and after being exposed to them for longer periods they need to get away, even to isolate, to recover energies. I wonder what happens when the source of noise doesn’t come from outside but from within. What happens when the noise follows me wherever I go?
Feeling the attachment
I can’t let go of the problem unless I solve it. Which is highly ironic because I don’t like having this problem so it might seem that I want to get rid of it… but at the same time I don’t. I’m willing to release the problem only when I have solved it. Apparently, that’s the only way out, the only possible escape. But why does it feels like that?. Why is it an unpleasant feeling from which I want to escape from?. I believe that precisely that feeling of wanting to escape from my history shows how invested I’m in it. Why else would I want to escape?. If I wasn’t trapped by the problem, I wouldn’t have the desire to escape. In other words, if I weren’t so attached, if I wouldn’t allow the problem to take control over me, if I wouldn’t give it that power, then the feeling of wanting to escape wouldn’t emerge. You only want to escape from the places where you are trapped. If I would like to get out of this room, I would just need to stand up and walk out of the door. But that is not the case with this problems. You can just leave them!
Adyashanti describes this experience in a very nice way. He says that is simply like leaving the cinema. Is watching a movie and simply stop and walk away. When I’m watching a movie I don’t need to escape from it, I just need to stop watching it. There is no effort in the act of letting it go. I was actually making an effort to watch it. The same applies to this, somehow I’m making an effort to have a problem.
It sounds strange, but an easy way of noticing how I am attaching is by trying to leave the problem unsolved. Imagining I won’t ever gonna solve it: I’m never gonna get that dream job, or meet that perfect persona, whatever it is that I’m chasing is not gonna happen in my life. NEVER. By doing this I can feel, really psychically feel the emotion of attachment. I want to have that problem, I want to solve it. I can feel how I have attached to the feeling of searching, to the illusion of finding an answer. I have attached to that particular identity. If I try to let it go, I can feel a very clear and defined sensation of not knowing what is gonna happen in the future. I feel as if I were losing some control. If I stop trying to solve it, what do I do? what is gonna happen to me? Apparently, I’m not capable of letting go of the seeker. I’m not able to drop that problem and accept what is. What would happen if I stop searching?
Even from a practical point of view, if I want to solve a problem, being unable to let the rest of the problems unsolved is a weight that makes it harder to focus on a single thing and solve the darn problem. My mind is continuously talking: You should this, and that. You have gained weight. What are you gonna do with your future? What would happen if you get sick? I cannot focus, I’m dysfunctional.
The Cat and The Mouse
What I’m looking at is a very simple fact: I’m trying to solve a problem that I’m deciding to have in the first place. I’m imposing that problem to myself. When I have a problem, I have some drama in my life, something interesting, something that keeps me expectant: Am I gonna choose the right option? Is this gonna work out fine? Is it gonna fail? Am I gonna meet the right person? Am I gonna be successful? But if the drama is not there life is…. well, is just life. So, there’s something within oneself that, as weird as it sounds, prefers that drama over having a calm and boring life. I’m holding on to the problem and trying to get rid of it at the same time. I’m the victim and the victimizer. I’m the one trying to escape from a jail that I have created. I could say that some pressures or problems came from outside at some point, but now I’m the one who has decided to carry them still. I don’t know why this happens, but knowing that problems don’t come from outside gives me at least a direction where to look at.
The situation gets even more frustrating when my brain faces a problem that has no solution. I can’t, for example, achieve an absolute level of security that ensures me that I’m gonna be ok and safe in the future. I can make people like what I do or create. But my minds still tries. It refuses to accept reality and it tries to solve those situations too. Which is highly ridiculous, because I’m smart enough to see that I can’t solve or control certain things but I’m stubborn enough to not accept it. My mind keeps gnawing that bone thinking it will be able to solve it. Is sort of a stupid intelligence. Is like know I can lick my elbow but spend countless hours trying and refuse to give up on that until I achieve it.
I have my life figured out
Let’s assume I find that perfect job, or that perfect couple, or whatever my mind is looking for. From that moment on, in theory, I’m gonna have my life figured out and I won’t have anything else to worry about. Great!. From then on I’m gonna be at peace. But what happens with the time before that moment? Let’s pretend is true, that once I find that answer, I’m done. Not only that problem is gonna be solved, but apparently my whole life. No new problems are gonna arise after that. I know it might sound extreme, but there’s a part of me that actually believes that. Is looking for that sense of completeness in this problem. So, once I figure this thing out, then everything that comes after that is gonna be great. That period of my life, those years after finding that solution are solved. But what about life before that? What about this moment in which clearly I don’t -yet- have what I want? Do I really need to experience it as an agony? Isn’t there another option besides waiting? Because that’s what I’m doing: I’m living my life waiting.
And what if once that problem is solved, a new one appears and I get attached to that one? Based on the evidence, that is how my life has been. Once I finally passed that test in college that was so tiring, a new set of problems took its place. Once I got a nice job, another problem appeared. So the whole promise of this being the end of my problems is an illusion. As long as I’m in opposition to reality, as long as I perceive a separation, in any given way, that separation will keep manifesting itself over and over again. Maybe on the surface, they will look different, maybe the next problem is gonna be related to my health or my house and no longer with my job. Although, being honest, not even the outer shape of the problems seems to vary a lot, which is very frustrating. It looks like we tend to attach to problems that are very similar. In any case, today I’m gonna solve this thing but tomorrow a new imaginary problem will appear requiring my attention. So, if apparently I’m gonna continue having problems with reality for a while, wouldn’t be useful to learn how to go through this states in a way that is not so tiring? To find a peaceful way to live together with my problems. To give at least a bit of attention to that. Time will tell if I managed to solve this problem or not, but what about this other thing that remains throughout all of the problems? As a friend of mine once told me: Well, you are gonna continue being worried about this situation, why don’t you go and worry at the beach instead of staying home?. It might sound simple, but it shifts the focus of attention and now you are focused on something different, not in escaping.
This moment, exactly as it is, without having all the things you want to have, how are you gonna live it?