The (bi-)weekly time frame for this question has almost ended, so I really hope I can post this before the curtain falls. Not only because I'm finally back to publishing on Hive (yeah, I missed those weeks), but because this week's question is something I have been pondering about for many years: the balance between living with full consciousness, and keeping myself sane from the overwhelming abundance of things this world throws at us. That's right, even here a balance is needed. But let me start explaining from the beginning.
Savoring Each Experience to the Fullest
We were born into this world with a number of senses, active and ready to perceive whatever our surrounding offers us. Whether any of these senses may be particularly heightened, or in any way compromised, ultimately it doesn't matter, because the remaining ones will certainly compensate. What's important in the end, is that this world impacts us and we let it do so by perceiving it. Such a beautiful setup on the surface, but once we go a bit deeper, it gives way to endless magic and wonder. If we open our eyes - and more importantly our minds - the simplest things, such as watching the wind move the leaves of the trees, will be the most gorgeous sight. Listening to the sound of crickets, as if you had never heard it before, is likely to make you laugh, or cry. And feeling the grass under your bare feet will be a mind-blowing sensation. In a way, one would think this should be the only right way to go through life.
The Unpleasant is Just as Real
At first I used to revel in all the lovely things in the world enticing my senses, just as I would curse all the less comfortable sensations for ... well, not being so pleasant. But soon I realized, even though they happened not to please me in the same way, they were just as part of the world, and thus my own reality. One example for this was the insanely cold weather I got to know living in Buffalo, NY. While temperatures were already below zero (Celsius), and me covered in various layers of clothing, when the wind picked up, it drove an extra chill through my bones. Brrrrrr!!! Just the memory of it makes me shiver. Ironically, it was this cold that made me appreciate arriving to my warm apartment - or even work, which otherwise would be less something to look forward to. Once I realized that it was the discomfort of the cold that made me feel alive, I started truly appreciating it. In the same way I learned to enjoy tiredness, stress, worry, sadness, and even pain.
As nice as it may seem to maintain a childlike wonder at all times, this too is excessive, and if not handled well it can come back and bite you. At least, this is what I found so many times when everything around me was just so magical, while I needed to concentrate on one particular thing. It could have been something benign and insignificant, but still it's not nice to be distracted from what I consider more important at that moment, even by things I otherwise would consider most wonderful. So I had to learn to block out everything else, including thoughts that would pop up in my mind, if I wanted to truly focus on something. What a waste? Not really, if I chose well and directed my attention to something that was worth blocking out the rest of the impulses of the world. In a way, it would pay off having missed out on the rest of the stuff of the world. Clearly, I am not saying that either one was more worthy, or more important than the other, only that it was better for me to pay attention to one over the other. However, this worthy reason was not the only one for blocking out things around me.
In the last couple of years I have adopted certain practices to consciously block out all, or at least most of the impulses of life around me. When going out, I am covered in huge headphones, blocking out every sound, while hypnotizing me with the softest slow tunes I can get my hands on. My eyes are covered by large black sunglasses, making any eye-contact impossible, should I find myself in such a situation. The reason for blocking out the world from entering my mind, is that living in Mexico City I have found overly taxing on my mind. Any kind of interpersonal interaction tends to get on my nerves, causing frustration to turn into anger, not directed against anyone or anything, but shooting aimlessly around me. While I realize that this way I am certain to miss out on many good impressions as well, I have decided that it's worth it, since the bad tends to outshine the good, almost always.
Juggling the Combinations
In the end, looking back at all I've seen, heard, and felt, I realize that it was all good, and there is simply not enough of it. On the other hand, I cherish the peaceful moments just as much, when there are no impulses of any kind knocking on the door of my mind. I could not even imagine going with only one extreme or the other. Being constantly open to receiving impulses is just as bad as keeping myself shut off from the world at all times. Sometimes I love seeing, hearing, and feeling everything. Other times I enjoy not getting anything from outside, up to forgetting that a world outside my mind even exists... up to a point of course. After years and years of playing both extremes, I came to the realization that a combination of the two was the best way. And even there, you can spend a certain amount of time on each level, before moving on to the next. So even in this regard, I have come to embrace the balance between the two.