Horses have blinders; I have wine.
The basic principle is the same, in any case. With eyes on the sides of their head like any prey, horses can so easily get distracted by the big, shiny, scary world around them. If you want them to focus on, say, running a race, you need to shut all that out and get them to see only what is ahead. So many possibilities narrowed down to just a few.
My eyes are forward facing, so ostensibly I’m a predator. But I still feel like the world is just way too big and complicated and difficult and scary to really comprehend. This can manifest as depression or anxiety or ADHD, but in any case the root cause is the same: there is an abyss around us, actually quite a few abysses.
Deep space, for one, is quite literally all around us. Under us are many dark layers of earth and fire. Within us are mysterious microbes and the ever-shrinking and unknowable worlds within our cells – which malfunction or break down with alarming frequency.
Even human society is too much to comprehend; all the suffering, all the precarious jobs held by desperate people, all the seeking for meaning and all the “should”’s that distract us.
Various random things remind me of these abysses. Empty hotel rooms, for one, make me a bit nauseous – who am I in this fabricated, temporary environment? Cubicles. Cities. Bare branches. Unscheduled time. Or just Tuesday night. Abysses might just be blah, or they might contain horrors that pop out at you. You just never know.
And so, I drink wine, which brings blissful fuzz to the edges of perception. Wine, and to some extent, coffee, help narrow the focus. They are the blinders to the world.
That said, there are healthier ways to get a bit of a blinder effect – or at least a perspective. Art gives shape to life, and it can also give it focus, literally. A photograph is nothing more or less than one person’s perspective, focused and cropped. A painting puts it a bit more into the mind’s eye, filtering the input subjectively. Music, too, can pinpoint feelings and moments. Reading and writing, of course, define and create our ideas. Definition is knowledge, and knowledge is power, after all.
Also there is the grounding of beautiful nature, children’s insights, and of course, the delight of yoga – all the things that float my boat pose. Just like a camera views the world through a very specific aperture, a manipulated hole for light, we too can find what we need to zero in on the good.
We are always on the cusp – of solid and liquid, macro and micro, animal instinct and enlightened morality. Of being painfully alone in our own brains and of being inextricably linked to all life around us.
If we struggle with that precarious balance, as we inevitably must, let’s help each other out. Share your little perspective and I’ll share mine, and hopefully we can navigate the abyss together.
More of my ramblings on these topics:
Finite’s Guide to the Infinite Part 1