I was talking with a pal last night, and he mentioned he’s been feeling like he’s on autopilot lately. This reminded me of another pal who’s been going through a very similar thing recently, and it also reminded me of me.
The feeling of drifting, of existing rather than living, as though life is merely happening to you and not with you, is probably one of the most unsettling experiences I’ve ever been through. Much like how it would feel to be caught on the current of a river (there’s a reason the ‘up a creek without a paddle’ metaphor is a cliche), feeling caught on the current of existence makes us anxious and uncertain, because of the exact same reason: we don’t feel in control.
Humans like to feel as though they have some control over their destiny. We’re driven to seek shelter, not just because it makes sense in the short-term, but because having an enduring sense of safety, a secure base from which to explore the world, is necessary for our mental wellbeing.
When you feel like life is something that passively happens to you, you don’t know what it has planned for you — every bend in the river might be hiding a precipitous drop onto a bed of razor-sharp rocks, or space pirates, or a portal to another universe. If you hopped in a taxi and there was a kangaroo behind the wheel, that’s a lot more unnerving than being the kangaroo yourself. Knowing we have the ability to pump the breaks or swerve to avoid an oncoming juggernaut puts us in some kind of control, a control I’m not sure the kangaroo necessarily has. That’s not to belittle the kangaroo of course — I’m sure they’re doing their best.
While I’ve been an advocate of pushing towards your goals within an environment that is largely outside of your control (‘go with the flow, but be prepared to row’) for while now, I didn’t always feel like this. Pre-2017, I felt like I simply had no agency. This is something I’ll expand on again at another time, for now it’d be more a tangent than an expansion of the point I’m trying to make today. Suffice to say, I got out of it, and I changed my mindset.
What worked for me is unlikely to work for someone else (of course it might, but that’s provided we share a shopping list of proclivities and it’s just too specific to assume it’ll apply outside a very narrow type of character), but sometimes simply being aware that you’re adrift can be enough to make you want to push against the current and see what opportunities are within rowing distance. You will of course need to find yourself an oar first, but one thing at a time ey?
Have a bloody lovely day.
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About the curator - Matt Jenko
Hi my name is Matt, but my friends call me Matt. I’m on the wrong side of 29 (damn I hate it every time I have to update that number), definitely feeling my age, but never felt happier and more content than I do at this point in my life. I’ve been through some rocky patches (who hasn’t) and lived to tell the tale, and boy do I gots some stories.
When I’m not giving opinions absolutely nobody asked for, I’m doing a worldbuilding with my passion project, vivaellipsis. If you like offbeat nonsense delivered through immersive escapism, then go and get involved. Or don’t, I’m not telling you what to do. I’m not yer boss.
I’m a simple man with simple interests. I like Yorkshire tea, the sound of rain on the window, and a bloody good story.
9 August 2021
What today’s insight has granted me is the knowledge that if you don’t check in on yourself, you’ll lose touch with yourself. You’ll become unfamiliar with each other, and it feels very strange. I honestly think this is what it means to feel out of sorts.
27 May 2021
The cinematic score to your psychological journey with Matt Jenko. Featuring artists like: Bonobo • Yotto • Emancipator • CamelPhat • ODESZA • Carpenter Brut • Tinlicker • Four Tet • Jacques Greene • Tchami • RÜFÜS DU SOL