Monday, October 20, 2014

on questions better left unasked

In one of the Hitchhiker books, Douglas Adams introduced the idea of "questions where, if you think about them too much, the answers will only drive you insane." One of the major advances I made after my 2011-2012 mental break was to adopt this concept and make it my own.

You see, I've always been a moper. I've been the kind of guy who will dwell on the negative and the difficult, often in a possibly fruitless search for a way to conquer a difficult or nigh-impossible obstacle. This is almost certainly rooted in my depression, yes. But it was not without its benefits. It made me tenacious and bull-headed in my quest to get in and through grad school, for instance.

Part of the problem, though, is that there are walls which one cannot push through, obstacles that, for whatever reason, cannot be overcome. My magnificent failure at the academic job market is a sterling example. I did everything I could do...yet I was crushed by the market regardless. My tenacity could not overcome the dwindling opportunities for scholars in general. And, as I was a dweller, I could not quit analyzing my lack of success...and consequently blaming myself. Being able to shove the whole thing into the "if you think about it, it will only drive you crazy" folder took a very long time, but I eventually learned to let some things go...and became a much happier and healthier person as a result.

But every so often, I have days. Today, on my way from the university to the hospital, I started to think those thoughts even though I knew they would drive me mad. I couldn't stop myself. I don't know if it was the last 4 days grading until 10pm, my current social isolation, or that I was listening on the drive to an album which was on regular rotation during the adjunct hell years. Maybe it was just one of depressive turns. I dunno.

Sometimes, I wish I could just cut certain things out of my brain. Maybe I should just listen to more pop music.

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