Indeed, we need to question things as we go through life so as not to be gulled or fooled, tricked or trampled upon. Yet, too much questioning, I believe, does weary the soul. From personal experience of life I have found that deep dark thoughts can haunt those who are of a more melancholy frame of mind. Like everything else in life we need balance in any of our habits or pursuits - be they physical, emotional, spiritual or moral.
Some insights I have picked up from reading over the years remain with me. During my school years I really enjoyed the poems of Patrick Kavanagh. Indeed I have never ceased to be a fan because his poems draw me in at a deep personal and spiritual level. Here is a quote from Paddy which is very ad rem, the last stanza in full in fact, from his beautifully moving poem Advent :
O after Christmas we'll have no need to go searching
For the difference that sets an old phrase burning-
We'll hear it in the whispered argument of a churning
Or in the streets where the village boys are lurching.
And we'll hear it among decent men too
Who barrow dung in gardens under trees,
Wherever life pours ordinary plenty.
Won't we be rich, my love and I, and
God we shall not ask for reason's payment,
The why of heart-breaking strangeness in dreeping hedges
Nor analyse God's breath in common statement.
We have thrown into the dust-bin the clay-minted wages
Of pleasure, knowledge and the conscious hour-
And Christ comes with a January flower.
You will excuse me for highlighting a few phrases in the above stanza. When we think and ponder too much - we set our minds racing, make them confused and disturbed. Sometimes we have to set the dark deep thinking aside and attempt to re-engage the flow as it were. Searchers can often be panic-stricken and over-fervent and push themselves too far. (Only yesterday on the Dart I had to attempt to comfort an elderly lady who was beginning to panic because she thought she had missed her train and who feared for the welfare of her grandchild who was awaiting her - Searchers are similar - they are prone to panic!) Hence when we go with the flow we will have "no need to go searching" for elusive answers to bothersome questions. Re-engaging the flow of life also means realising that day-to-day life and experiences can and do pour "ordinary plenty." Likewise, when we tap into the power and the innate celebration of life that is within us and is the heritage of all of us we will not have the temerity to "ask for reason's payment." Tapping into the flow of life brings us beyond an intellectual analysis into a state of appreciation for the little things as well as the big things of life - hence, we will have no need to "analyse God's breath in common statement."
In all of this I am conscious also of other lines of poems flying around in the background of my mind barely visible or audible but still there insinuating themselves now and again into consciousness. Such a line is one from Dry Salvages II of T.S. Eliot's wonderful Four Quartets which goes:
but the sudden illumination—
We had the experience but missed the meaning...
We all have myriads of experiences, but it is indeed somewhat sad to miss their significance or meaning for us. Again this is a Socratic piece of advice in the sense that the unexamined life is not worth living. Moreover, I am well aware that there is a corollary to this that goes: "the un-lived life is not worth examining." Again, I contend it is all a matter of balance, of getting things into perspective, of not going to extremes, of finding the mean as it were.
Then I have always found much wisdom in cartoons which help us laugh at ourselves. I remember an old Snoopy cartoon from the Peanuts comic strips by Charles M. Schulz - which had the following caption: "Sometimes I sits and I thinks. Other times I just sits!" I remember the cartoon well as our friendly doggie was sitting on a potty.
Anyway, too much of anything will be wearisome for the soul. I see from a random search of the Internet that at least one person believes that he/she suffers from a new syndrome called Too Much Thinking Syndrome or TMTS. What will we think of next?
Above I have uploaded yet another picture I took of the Carrowbeg River, Westport in March 2007.