Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Obsessive Thinking, Part 2 - Running on the Gerbil Wheel is Not What Your Doctor meant by: "Get more exercise."

I've got a couple of shorthand ways to describe obsessing - "foxhunting" is one, and "on the gerbil wheel" is another. The latter came about when I was visiting a friend, whose kids had a gerbil, and while we talked, the gerbil was on the wheel in his cage, running for all he was worth. "Look at him," my friend commented - "he really thinks he's getting somewhere!"
I answered, "I can relate to that, I do the mental equivalent."
We grinned at each other, then said, in perfect unison: "Obsessing!"

When one is in public, and wants to share, without giving anyone in the immediate vicinity clues as to just what is being discussed, these little shorthand terms come in handy.
So we meet and ask each other, "What have you been up to?" and sometimes the reply is: "Foxhunting." Or, "Oh, not so good, I've been on the gerbil wheel, for 3 days straight!"

"Gerbilling" just seems such a perfect way to describe the process; all that mad exertion and energy expenditure, and when we climb off, finally, haggard, and gasping for breath, where are we? In the same damn place we were, when we first climbed on. What a colossal and futile time-waster "gerbilling" is: not to mention how it saps our morale, and poisons our moods.

We have a choice, we always have a choice, whether we see it or not. We choose to climb on in the first place, and when we're in full stride, we have nothing keeping us on it, but our own decision to stay there. I can see, in hindsight, that I used the gerbil wheel as a way to give myself the illusion that I was making progress, (just as the gerbil may believe that if he just ramps it up a notch, he may step off into a superior cage, maybe with a little girl gerbil, or some different seeds to eat.)

Unlike the gerbil, we've got opposable thumbs, we can climb down off the gerbil wheel, go over, open the cage door and walk out into freedom. Some days, freedom is just too alarming and overwhelming, when we are new to it. So we go back into the cage and pull the door to for a while longer, it's safe in there. Constricting, boring, but safe. We climb on the wheel and take ourselves for a manaical run at top speed, until we feel sufficiently wearied, and are willing to dismount and try some other form of cerebral exercise.

Such as working our program.

No comments:

Post a Comment