The other day I was perusing the depths of the internet. I was scrolling around and waiting for something to catch my eye like I always do. Then I came across this question in an "explain it like I am 5" forum.
"Why do we get the feeling that we want to jump down when we stand next to a cliff?"
As I read all the answers I kept nodding my head. Yes, I feel that. Yes, that's how my brain works. It was amazing. All these people who are way better with words than me were putting my jumbled brain into coherent thoughts. Now that I know these thoughts aren't one of a kind. Now that I know they aren't in my brain and no one elses I'm going to share so maybe some more people can understand what is happening in their own brain.
First off, these are the most popular thought processes:
Have you ever stood by a cliff and looked down and thought holy shit I could just jump right now. What? Why did you just think that? Don't jump! You press your legs down stiff and walk away. Wait why did I just think that? I'm not suicidal at all. I'd never jump.
You drive your car and notice there is no barrier between you and the oncoming traffic. I can drive into oncoming traffic at any time. One jerk of the wheel, that's all it would take.
If someone hands you something really expensive or a new born baby and you are holding it and you have to keep telling yourself do not drop this. Do not throw it. Be careful. Be careful. Wait, why am I so nervous to just hold something? What's going on here?
This is the one that happens to me most often and it's something I have never spoken out loud or told anyone about in any way. When I am having a one on one conversation with someone and we're standing a foot apart my brain will always jump to I could punch this person in the face right now. They wouldn't be able to stop it. There's nothing stopping me. How could it be that easy. Anyone could punch anyone in the face at anytime and it would never be expected. What is stopping me? I could punch them right in the face. Shut up, Jimmy! SHUT UP! I have never punched anyone in the face in my life. I don't ever plan on it but I can't stop having it pop into my mind.
According to studies seventy percent of people have never had any thoughts like these. So that means there are a good amount of people reading this thinking, jesus christ Jimmy is crazy. Is he okay? To you people, yeah, I'm okay. I'm just part of a small percentage of people who suffer from existential anxiety.
That is what it's called. Existential anxiety.
I've known about existential crises, as everyone has, but the crises usually come around in one heavy moment, crush you for an hour or a day and then pass. They are a big wave. This is different. Like the description says its a nagging feeling. It sticks around like a suckerfish on whale. Constantly in the back of your head.
The reason these thoughts come around is because we cannot fathom the freedom life allows us. We are free to jump. We are free to drive into traffic, to break something valuable, to punch anyone in the face. Why? The only thing that is stopping us is our concious and that is fucking nuts. We'll never be able to make sense of life but it's all we think about. We can't stop the intrusive thoughts that pop into our head. The reasurring thing is that we don't do these things. We understand how easily they can be done and it shakes us. I literally shake my head to get them to go away. In that way, it shows that we have a concious, that we have morals and that they are what stop us. That's why it's hard to write this, to tell people that these thoughts get thought up. Because like that study shows, seventy percent of people will read this and come out of it thinking, Jimmy said he gets the urge to jump when he's next to a cliff. He's suicidal. I'm not suicidal. I just don't understand why I'm not. I know I'm not because I don't jump and I get scared as fuck at how easy it would be and immediatly walk away. I also don't punch anyone in the face. I shake that shit out. So on a funny and honest note, if we are ever having a conversation and you see me shake my head real quick it's not because I have a twitch. It's because I just thought about how easy it would be to punch you in the face.
There is a book; The Ethics of Ambiquity by Simone de Beauvoir, the same writer who wrote The Second Sex. I will be reading it shortly to delve more into all of this. Maybe there is a way to deal with it. Although I don't think there's a way to deal with it besides just having the thoughts and shaking it off. I don't know. I was just happy to read about it and finally be able to pinpoint what was happening. It was comforting to read an entire thread of people sharing the same exact feelings that I thought I would never be able to share with anyone. By writing this maybe I did that for someone today. The brain is a wonderful and miserably complex thing. As is life.
I like the Yankees, watching TV shows and talking about stuff.
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