Have you ever tried to hold on to a thought? For me this process feels like I’m trapped in a riptide, white water rapids rushing me down the erupting river, and the idea appears as a small mossy stone. On the surface, it seems small, maybe enough to grab with one hand, but hidden beneath the chaos lies a massive body planted in the riverbed. As I get battered by the relentless flow, I reach out for the small surface with the intent to cling for dear life but, the moment my fingers graze it, I blink and I’m one hundred meters downstream.
Sometimes the river flows in a circle, and I see the same “thought rocks” repetitiously. I grasp at it every time I pass around, taking away a bit more each time. (Think lazy river, but instead of lazy, it’s aggressive. Aggressive river.) Sometimes the river flows in a straight line, sweeping me further away with each passing second, never to return to the same idea again.
I close my eyes, the darkness of the inside of my eyelids replaced by, what I’ve decided is, a visual representation of anxiety. I’m shown an overwhelming image, with too much going on to focus on one single thing. None of these objects represent anything, most of the time they appear as an extremely complex interwoven system of pipework, turning gears, or other machinery. This image is ever-flowing and changing, pipes extending, bending, and zig-zagging. All of this is happening at random, gears breaking or growing or shrinking, sometimes disappearing. With the pipes, there are so many that I can’t see where one starts or ends. Even if I could, I’d visualize it for a second before it morphs into something else entirely. These visualizations don’t want to exist in captivity; they want to act as they please. It’s almost like trying to quantify the results in some form of punishment. I don’t even try anymore.
When I try and represent my ideas and thoughts, I place myself as an outside observer, watching myself experience these things, but I’m also experiencing them. As I write this I’m hovering above the tumultuous river describing the events transpiring from a third-person perspective as I’m simultaneously experiencing them. I see a visual representation of me being boxed in by an ever-expanding complexly woven system of pipework all while feeling myself being overwhelmed and cramped.
I’ve never written about this or tried to describe these images before. Some days it’s worse than others, some days I can manage it. I hope trying to describe this helps me to process it differently. I still get frustrated with myself when I am unable to hold on to something, but I’ve gotten better at coming to terms with that.