Born Restless

The only constant emotion that I can recall in my life is restlessness. Perhaps it’s a state more than it is an emotion. I don’t care. The net effect remains the same. There is little that I can leave untouched. I have an incessant need to unravel issues that plague myself or others. I can’t let sleeping dogs lie (all puns intended). There are too many dogs that pretend to be asleep and in so doing they lie through their fangs in their efforts to garner social acceptance or admiration. They’re dogs, regardless of their pretenses.

The heart of mental illnesses lies in society, and not in the brain. There is no chemical imbalance that can be righted in order for it to right the betrayals of society at large, and significant others at the least. So instead of contending with the elephant in the room, we’d much rather pretend that we have a mental illness to deal with. At times like this I feel mentally ill. The same restlessness creeps into every thought pattern and disrupts my focus leading to angsty drivel that aspires to become a meaningful post. But I know that this restlessness is not an illness. It’s simply the reality of my attempts to live consciously.

We’re all alone. No matter how big our social circles may appear, deep down inside only we understand the gravity of being who we are, and what we fear. The social circles are just a distraction from this reality, but in no way erases that loneliness. It’s all just a distraction, but it’s a very effective distraction which is why we’re amusing ourselves to death, only to realise too late that we were in fact distracting ourselves from life. It’s therefore no surprise that avenues like social networking and technical gadgetry are increasingly popular to all generations and not just the young ‘uns any longer. We all need the distractions equally.

The problem is not in the distractions, or how they’re being abused. Those are just symptoms. The true problem is in a society that sees the need for escape as being a mental illness. The problem lies in academics that lack any real life experiences but feel accomplished enough because of a piece of paper to pronounce their judgement on the mental state of others without even considering the reality of life. That’s why we have the ridiculously high levels of bipolar disorder that is diagnosed in all spectrums of society, let alone depression and so many other abused terms of mental illness.

In a dysfunctional society it’s next to impossible to find a healthy support structure to avoid the temptation of labelling our mental states. Support structures are not synonymous with support groups, but are in fact the family structures and community networks that talk to the village raising a kid, rather than the village raising an idiot. The collective responsibility of society has long been abandoned in favour of individual appeasement and selfish goals.

The restlessness I feel is born out of this same dysfunction. But according to many, I could successfully be diagnosed with a mental illness because I have an insatiable desire to see wholesome values and communal living that is morally grounded realised in my lifetime. Perhaps I am mad. Perhaps my restlessness is in fact insanity. Perhaps my desire for old school values is merely my distraction from a society that has evolved beyond such wholesomeness. Perhaps I am that sane man that is compared to an insane society, and because the mirror with which I reflect on my life is that insane society, it is entirely possible that I may appear insane. Worse than this is the innocent soul that lacks such a realisation and still seeks affirmation from that same insane society.

4 responses to “Born Restless”

  1. I have come to identify restlessness within myself as a state of being – far more permanent than any emotion (other than cognizance of God, compassion for mankind, and contempt for society) that I choose to remember. I lack the clarity that you project in knowing root causes for yours – for myself, I struggle with the nuances of trying to find a measure of peace in spite of (or maybe because of) my disconnect with popular belief (or rather ways that people live out their beliefs in compartmentalized confines of their lives), my utter frustration with everyday injustices that we are a silent majority to (and by that equally culpable), and absence of courage in my own self to pursue what is right and good and simple. I cannot throw a stone.

    So much of it is that we are caught in the cycle that you describe in your other post – we, as a larger society have such a monochronic view of time. Time, perhaps, is our creation – a way for us to make linear sense of a life that is anything but. So to keep pace with something that we have convinced ourselves is critical, we structure our lives around that concept – right time to pursue formal education, right time to get married, right time to have children, right time to be conforming…you catch my drift. In the end, we have little time left for musings, for wonder, for clarity and coherence, for individuality, for action. And little energy.

    I know – ramblings – ah well…

    • I agree with much of what you’re saying. But I find that too often people mistake secondary emotions for primary ones. Like restlessness, anger, and even happiness. Being restless is a good sign, for me anyway. It means I have yet to become complacent. Another state often confused with contentment. So the crux of it for me is that I need to avoid becoming complacently comfortable while assuming that I’m in fact contentedly accomplished. I suspect that that may just have prompted a vision of one or more individuals in your life that fit that description? 🙂

      • Touche! Have you heard the parable of the boiling frog? This happy little frog is placed is a pot of water that is slowly set to boil…as the water gets warmer, the frog feels uncomfortable but adjusts…and so that keeps happening till it reaches boiling point and the frog, unconsciously, has boiled away. You say complacency – comfortable rut, decay under delusion, plagues of the corporate world…name it as you will.

        Emotions, perhaps, are usually secondary. And for me, that would be secondary to purpose – I want not just a purposeful life but a life lead on purpose. Enjoy your day!

      • Interesting parable. I agree about being lead by purpose, but sometimes the search for purpose is in itself a distraction. 🙂 Thanks for engaging.

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