From the Pages: When thoughts defeat us helpless

The Schopenhauer Cure by Irvin Yalom

“Leaving the room did not clear the muck from Philip’s mind. He walked assailed by anxiety.

What had happened to his arsenal of self-soothing techniques? Everything that had for so long provided him structure and serenity was unraveling – his mental discipline, his cosmic perspective.

Struggling for equanimity, he instructed himself: Don’t struggle, don’t resist, clear your mind; do nothing but watch the passing show of your thoughts. Just let thoughts drift into consciousness and then drift away.

Things drifted in alright, but there was no drifting out. Instead, images unpacked their bags, hung up their clothes, and set up house-keeping in his mind. Pam’s face drifted into view … He remembered, too, lingering in her arms for much too long. It was for this precise reason he had regarded her as dangerous and had resolved on the spot not to see her again. She represented a threat to his freedom… He wanted freedom; he wanted to escape from bondage of desire in order to enter, however briefly, the true philosophers’ will-free clearing.

More fantasies came; his passion enveloped him and, with a great whoosh, sucked him from the philosophers’ distant observing grand-stand. He craved; he desired; he wanted. And more than anything, he wanted to hold Pam’s face in his hands. Tight orderly connections between thoughts loosened…

He shivered and buttoned his jacket. In the fading light of day, the cold Pacific wind streamed through the Golden Gate and rushed by him, just as the hours of his life would forever rush past without warmth or pleasure. The wind presaged the frost of endless days to come, arctic days of raising in the morning with no hope of home, love, touch, joy. His mansion of pure thought was unheated. How strange that he had never before noticed. He continued walking but with the glimmering knowledge that his house, his whole life, had been built on foundations flimsy and false.”

Image: Hartwig HKD (h.koppdelaney)

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