Most of my waking hours I am speechless, and I know some friends of mine won’t understand what I just wrote there. But most of the time I’m not saying much.
Or just saying surface level canned statements. You know:
The weather is bad,
Wow was the traffic a mess today,
How ’bout them Cowboys?
However, much closer to the forefront of my mind are deep analytical, historical, emotional and socio-political ramifications of you asking me “so how’s it going?”
How’s it going?! Well, considering both of us just heard a little about maintaining good personal finances, here are my thoughts on the history of the Christian Monastic Community and the distribution of possessions, successful and failed attempts at communal living, and the complete horror of the pervasiveness of the American Dream within our culture.
That’s what I want to respond to “how’s it going.”
Because I mean let’s just get frank and cut the small talk.
A stranger’s face appeared—
They say he lost his mind
(Or too much found his mind?)
I hear it all the time
Too much found his mind?
I immediately resonated and searched the lyrics to see if others caught it. Sure enough, too much found his mind proved too good a line to go unnoticed. It reminds one person of Nietszche’s madman metaphor. To someone else, a possible reference of John The Baptist.
The metaphor of Nietzche’s Madman is about someone who is deeply perceiving a lot, too much, or perhaps all which needs to be perceived, in contrast to the masses asleep at their own wheels. I sense it is more about the person making connections with all which is finding their mind.
It speaks to a kind of ‘awareness’ of things. Awareness provides the opportunity to make pathways between seemingly unrelated items, a connection process of information more than a lack of perception of said items in isolation.
For example, John The Baptist was witness to the same information as anyone else of his time: socio-political movements, imperial occupations, and sacred scriptural promises of a coming liberating savior who will tidy everything up when the time is right. It’s just while others are giving their attention to individual portions, only a few pieces, or woefully unaware of anything not involving only themselves, John was preaching the way he was preaching because he was putting a few pieces together.
When I am looking to add to a conversation I often find myself wanting to take someone straight to the implications of what we are really talking about. How does this connect to events of the past? In what ways is our discussion more about selfish ambition versus growing yourself and challenging your own thoughts? How did you feel when that happened or this news came to you?
I began sharing a little more here and there to others in the above manner. Instead of maintaining surface level, I’d go where I am residing presently. Speaking directly of the things which I was constantly connecting and what I found worthy of actually sharing.
As if I had forgot or discredited what my grade school teachers would always say of me, a few individuals paused me in recent years because they saw the 10,000 foot view of what I was doing. In the middle of conversation they would say “wait, you’re reading all these books right now and connecting what’s in them?” Or “not everyone is still enough in a moment to capture the thought you’re expressing.”
These were long lost encouragements I had stuffed away or discarded entirely a long time ago. I was hearing them afresh from encouraging people.
Perhaps I was sharing more readily again because two things finally started kicking in.
One was leaning completely into what happens to me within certain environments. So much finds my mind just sitting at a coffee shop, looking out at the sunny day outside, wondering about the old man in the corner of the shop and his long contemplative look. I guess at his hopes and dreams, the life he has lived, and the regrets he has faced head on or is still running from. The next thing I know I have jotted down some lines of poetry without anticipation. Poetry helps condense volumes of things finding my mind into digestible portions. And it comes when I am surprisingly at rest.
The other helpful practice for me is discerning what continually rests on my mind. Daily journal practices of writing anything and everything that comes to mind is an excellent sifting exercise. Once on paper or on computer screen, we see what is taking up unneeded space.
We don’t ask for some of the things which find their way to our minds, but we can do a fantastic job of filtering down what matters most.
Too much on our minds can be made into a blessing.