Ze Frank gets all Zen on us…

December 22, 2006

This is how I feel today, this is my baseline. That’s a trick. I learned it from an actor so it must not be full of shit. I asked her how she grounded herself, how she’d get rid of anxiety before she walked on stage. She said that there were certain things that are very difficult to control, and how she felt at that moment was one of them. For her it was less about getting rid of that anxiety. Less about subtraction and more about recalibration. She would pause for a moment to take what would seem to be her emotional temperature. A pause to feel the anxiety, the excitement, the sadness, whatever it was that day. She would try to do this without judgement, without separating out the bad things from the good things with an eye to change them, but rather taking them at face value. Instead she would recalibrate, the total for what she found would become her normal new baseline from which she would experience the world.

Certain emotions can feed on themselves. It’s easy to become anxious about being anxious, become more depressed about being depressed. The goal of the recalibration was to normalize these feelings, to make them things you didn’t have to apologize to yourself for, or worse, beat yourself up about.

I like this idea; this idea I stole from the actors. The idea that you’re constantly in flux. When I agree to do something in the future, not just one me is making that agreement, but many versions of me. Recognizing that helps me understand why routines can be so hard. You don’t always know who’s going to be showing up for the job. ‘A five mile run?! You’re out of your fucking mind! Who signed up for that?!’ ‘Healthy me. You didn’t get the memo?’

I don’t know if it’s accurate imagery, but I think of a lot of overlapping curves. For example, I’m on the bottom of a curve right now I call the problem curve. When I’m on the top of that curve I like to work on big, open-ended, creative problems. Unsolvable problems. But when I’m down here I like to work on smaller things. Problems I know that I can solve. It’s good for cleaning my room or knocking off e-mails, or programming little flash toys. Finding my baseline is like checking to see which version of me showed up. There’s some things that some of us aren’t so good at. But we’re good at other things. Restless me isn’t so good at sleeping, but he can read like a mother-fucker. Yelling at him isn’t going to get him to sleep any faster.

This is how I feel today, this is my baseline.

– Ze Frank, from Baseline

Man, this no-self stuff just keeps popping up. Ze Frank is pretty smart. I’m not too surprised to find it coming from him.

I’m on the bottom of the problem curve. I have been for most of break. But I think a lot of it is self-inflicted. Or is it?

Regardless: THE sine curve, anyone? :)


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