We all live in our own realities, and the way we see things is just the way things are. I get that. But I have to wonder sometimes if the way I’m wired is different than other people. I don’t mean how I like the Yankees while everyone around me somehow has been taken in by the Red Sox. That’s just a matter of taste.
No, I mean the basic fundamentals of how our brains work.
The case in point today? Terrible thoughts of “what might happen.” I’ll be having a perfectly lovely time doing just about anything, and into my head will pop “Yes, you’re having fun doing this. But ________ might happen in the next two minutes.” Like this morning. I’m sitting there in my car, driving to my library meeting today and listening to music and having a pleasant ride, and then it hits me: I could get into a car wreck in the next minute. Or one of my children could die in an accident. Or my house could burn down.
It’s a bundle of negativity that comes out of nowhere, and it can’t help but put a damper on my feelings.
It’s not like that’s an isolated incident, either. It happens probably once or twice a day. Things are great, and then there’s this burst of “What if?” I’ve learned to pretty much live with it. Just accept the thought and then move past it. But as I was driving today, I wondered if other people have the same downer thoughts so regularly.
My gut says that they don’t. That there’s probably a continuum between never having those kinds of thoughts and always having them, and that the more you have them, the harder it is to just move past them. But it’s not like you can crawl inside someone else’s brain and really see what things are like.
I wonder how surprised we would be if we ever could really do that. Truly see how someone else thinks and what sort of struggles they go through. I imagine we’d be very surprised by both the things they don’t have any issues with (which we personally struggle with) and the things they can’t seem to overcome (which don’t make us bat an eye.)
CS Lewis has a wonderful quote on this that I think I’ll finish up with (from Mere Christianity):
If you are a nice person–if virtue comes easily to you–beware! Much is expected from those to whom much is given. If you mistake for your own merits what are really God’s gifts to you through nature, and if you are contented with simply being nice, you are still a rebel: and all those gifts will only make your fall more terrible, your corruption more complicated, your bad example more disastrous. The Devil was an archangel once; his natural gifts were as far above yours as yours are above those of a chimpanzee.
But if you are a poor creature – poisoned by a wretched upbringing in some house full of vulgar jealousies and senseless quarrels – saddled, by no choice of your own, with some loathsome sexual perversion – nagged day in and day out by an inferiority complex that makes you snap at your best friends – do not despair. He knows all about it. You are one of the poor whom He blessed. He knows what a wretched machine you are trying to drive. Keep on. Do what you can. One day (perhaps in another world, but perhaps far sooner than that) He will fling it on the scrap-heap and give you a new one. And then you may astonish us all, not least yourself. For you have learned your driving in a hard school. (Some of the last will be first and some of the first will be last).