I am on a call list or twenty. It happens four times a day; the phone lights up, grabs my attention and discerns, “Scam Likely”, above a number I don’t recognize. I wish my brain offered the same provision about my thoughts. I can think my way into a hole. Do you do this? It’s been a life-long companion, sometimes as indiscriminate as my shadow and darkening. I framed a greeting card and put it above the bathroom sink that reads, you don’t give yourself enough credit. So far it hasn’t stopped the unwanted calls that try and sell me bad goods, but at least it’s in writing and the frame adds import. Such a small word, credit, but hard to hold.
In a week where a lot of news landed that wasn’t optimal, my phone and brain illuminated with unwanted chat. I’ve heard yoga teachers call it “monkey brain”, where you are attempting to settle your mind in meditation but instead it starts swinging from branches and hurling bananas. Honestly, monkeys sound harmless compared to the velociraptors in my head. And Instagram doesn’t help.
Evidence is gathered in one convenient, ever-replenishing app: other people are having more fun, more success, more sex, more fulfillment and are way better looking and younger than me. How handy that if I get too confident, I can always reach for my phone and have my inadequacy amalgamated for me in a filtered fun house of comparison shopping.
But I love it too. Anna and I send each other pictures of dachshunds and Lesley and I trade silly videos, pictures of babies, recipes and inspiration. I see internet postcards of loved ones in new places and snapshots of life events, victories and losses, that make me feel connected to strangers. It is aspirational and it does require a grain or a sea of salt, but it’s part of modern life and it’s not going away.
I worry though that my brain in 2018 is scammed; bombarded with images, information and contact. Device or not, my brain itself, like a bully, distracts me with comparison, surges for validation, derails creativity and ignores subtlety. Even my checklist of healthy habits - meditate, rest, have a glass of water, go for a walk, play with the dog, kiss Max, call a friend, bake a cake, exercise, write a post – doesn’t always redirect the tide of troubled thinking.
I wish in those moments, I could be an infant again, with a malleable head like a peach, that could be rocked and shushed into quiet. I’m sure back then my Mom imagined – holding my little head in her hand - I would use my good brain to feel and think, make decisions, play, change and become myself, not to harm myself. I am sure in those quiet moments where we were just mother and daughter, she thought I had the most beautiful little brain in the whole world – free of fault, inadequacy or comparison; perfect and proud, a credit to her and life.