Printed in the Conscious Creation Journal
April-May 2000, Issue 11
I Have A Theory: Details, Details, Details
by Kristen Fox
I made a decision the other day. I found myself falling down the spiral of frustration and anger once again in reaction to something in my immediate reality that I did not like. I had, once again, stepped right out of my center and my sense of well being, without even noticing at first. As I started to feel annoyed that I was feeling annoyed again, I just stopped myself and said, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” And then, stronger, “I absolutely refuse to go down this road again!”
Since then, I’ve been paying extreme attention to my attention. That is, I’ve been watching the triggers that seem to set me off into this spiral – each time it is an emotional re-action about something I don’t like. So why was I paying attention to things that I DON’T like and DON’T resonate with in the first place? I had a few ideas swimming around in my head, but early this morning I had a dream which explained things to me perfectly.
In my dream, I was feeling great, rollerblading through a mall. I was enjoying the sites and the people, and would occasionally stop and admire something. Then I saw a group of friends I’d known from college, just hanging out – they also had rollerblades on. I stopped for a brief, fun chat.
Then I noticed, off to the side, this pile of STUFF, which mostly involved small plastic dinosaur figurines. Suddenly, I was trying to figure out which ones were mine, which ones were duplicates, which ones were my friends, and also trying to figure out where I should put all of this stuff in all of the little zipper compartments of my backpack. I was aware that I had to get going and was feeling the urge to leave, but I just HAD to figure this all out – didn’t want to leave anything behind by mistake.
And when I woke up, I felt REALLY grumpy. That same kind of frustration and anger I feel when I go down that spiral of reaction. Then I remembered the dream – I had been rolling along just fine in my dream, very happily as a matter of fact, until…. the figurines. During this part of the dream I was focused EXCLUSIVELY on these little figures, trying to sort them and store them and label them. I was completely ignoring my own feelings and intuitions about wanting to leave, and instead I was THINKING THINKING THINKING about how to figure things out. Should I take this one? But what if it wasn’t mine? I could fit this one in this pocket, but then would I have to put the other ones in this other pocket? I was totally consumed, and effectively frozen, by all of the details in front of me. Not just the details of the figurines, but the details of my thoughts about them as well – there were thoughts that said, “One of the green ones is yours,” and “This one might fit into that pocket,” but then “This one might also fit in that OTHER pocket.” and “What if that isn’t YOUR green one?” Thoughts, contradictions, and me feeling completely unable to do a THING.
There’s a word for this kind of thing. OBSESSION – to obsess means to preoccupy the mind almost exclusively. PREOCCUPY means to occupy or take possession of in advance or before another. To me, this means that I got stuck in the thoughts about the experience – stopping there, before I got to the real FEELING of the experience. I was completely mired in the thoughts and details and thoughts ABOUT the details and had basically shut myself down.
And this is EXACTLY what had been happening each time I started to feel bad and go down that old spiral of reaction. It wasn’t that I was always physically aware of things that I didn’t like – the little dinosaurs figurines were actually cute – but then, I wasn’t really focusing on the figurines themselves, but trying to think about them, classify them, label them, store them – I was trying to “figure out” the “figurines.” And I wasn’t going to stop until I “figured out” what to do. And, how appropriate that the “figurines” were of dinosaurs – relics or representations of the past that were now extinct.
But there’s only one way to “figure out” what to do, and that had very little to do with the swamp of contradicting thoughts occupying my attention. The only way to resolve the situation so that it felt right and I felt right was to let GO of the details. Just STOP. Check with my feelings – did it feel GOOD to be doing this? No? Did you want to just LEAVE? Then good – go do that.
While I didn’t get any further in the dream, I knew that letting go was THE answer here. In a literal sense, I knew that if I had STEPPED BACK from the figurines, I would have automatically started seeing more of the big picture – like when you stop looking at puzzle pieces through a magnifying glass and start seeing how they relate to each other and what exactly the large picture is that you’re trying to fill in.
It’s not about completely IGNORING the details, but rather being AWARE of the details, including the contradictions, while also being AWARE of the larger picture, and being AWARE of your own feelings and your own movement within this larger picture, not about being OWNED or CONSUMED by the details.
As I write about this now, it seems rather obvious to me. But it’s been a long path to becoming aware of the larger picture, and then becoming aware of my own, perhaps compulsive, behavior within it. What was I trying to achieve by this focus? How and why had I learned to obsess about details? What occurs to me right now is that when I stopped listening to and trusting myself, THAT’S when I started to get lost in the details and the swamp of thoughts. After all, thoughts can present even MORE thoughts and ways to judge or “deal with” situations and details – which one is the right one? They all present valid perspectives and ideas – it was as if my whole basis for decision was blanked out or unavailable. The ME was lost amidst the plastic dinosaurs.
This can apply to any area of your life where you feel lost – because YOU probably ARE lost. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to stop trying so hard to figure things out and start FEELING your way through things, just like finding your way through a dark room. You can stand in the doorway and think thoughts about how to get to the other side of the room, the best way to start, what MIGHT be in there, etc., but that doesn’t shed a bit of light on your path. After you take a few scary steps in the dark, you’ll realize you suddenly CAN see, and that you’re bringing your OWN guiding light into the dark room with you.
©2000, Kristen Fox. Printed in the April-May 2000 Issue of the online Conscious Creation Journal. http://www.consciouscreation.com/ (Feel free to duplicate this column for personal use – please include this copyright notice.)