The noise inside (and outside) my head gets loud at times, threatens to drown everything out. Sometimes it feels like the only way to quiet it down is to anesthetize through music/TV/video games/movies/food, but none of that actually works in the long term; it just makes it worse when it inevitably comes back. The only way to calm the cacophony is to write. Whether fiction or nonfiction or just to-do lists, I literally have to empty my head to silence the thoughts. It’s a practice I learned from the book Getting Things Done by David Allen, but one I’ve proven to have difficulty keeping — partly due to the unstructured nature of my profession, partly due to laziness.
Social media only exacerbates this, of course, by filling my head not only with its own noise but everybody else’s as well. It’s empathy overload. Atlas may have had the world on his shoulders, but he was a lot bigger and there was a lot less world (civilization-speaking) when he first had to heft his burden. This goes back to themes I’ve explored in this blog before, of course, but it has a definite deleterious effect on my sanity.
Nothing causes anxiety like a crowd shouting at you from inside the confines of your own skull. Not in a James McAvoy Split kind of way, mind you. I don’t need other personalities to drive me mad; the one is enough. Feedback loops, frustrations, projections, unbidden memories, fantasias, random reminders — it’s a busy place up there. It gets in my way. I truly am my own worst enemy most of the time, letting myself drown in the swirl of doubts. It can be hard to hear myself over myself. This only gets worse when I get stressed, of course, and nothing kills productivity quite like telling yourself you need to be productive over and over again.
Creativity lies in the specific, I’ve learned, and in order to be specific you need to stop focusing on things that don’t matter. I tried doing that earlier this year, and it worked well; the only conclusion I can draw is that I need to get back to that. The sound of silence is sweet.