It was in between waking and unconsciousness—that slow, inevitable descent into the inky pool of sleep—when a quiet epiphany encroached upon me. Long months of helplessness and lack of motivation, months of crises, months of living short of oxygen, suffocating inside my own bell jar. All because I wouldn’t allow myself to let go of the reins, to let my person be free.
The brutal truth is that I am the one who expects so much from myself, more than anyone has ever expected of me. I expect myself to be perfect in everything that I do. Of course I fall short every time. My standards have become far too high, even for myself. My hunger for perfection is insatiable: a beast of burden that I feed with my flesh.
Then last night, it came to me—the realization that it’s time to break free from this vicious cycle in which I have become entrapped.
I’m letting go of the proud perfectionist inside me.
I’m too small to house a black hole.
I am bound to fall, to fail, as I have, as I will. And I will accept myself for that. I will accept myself.
I am enough.
It’s a strange thing about the human mind that, despite its capacity and its abundant freedom, its default is to function in a repeating pattern. It watches the moon and the planets, the days and seasons, the cycle of life and death all going around in an endless loop, and unconsciously, believing itself to be nature, the mind echoes these cycles. Its thoughts go in loops, repeating patterns established so long ago we often can’t remember their origin, or why they ever made sense to us. And even when these loops fail over and over again to bring us to a desirable place, even while they entrap us, and make us feel anciently tired of ourselves, and we sense that sticking to their well-worn path means we’ll miss contact with the truth every single time, we still find it nearly impossible to resist them. We call these patterns of thought our “nature” and resign ourselves to being governed by them as if they are the result of a force outside of us, the way that the seas are governed — rather absurdly, when one thinks about it — by a distant and otherwise irrelevant moon.
—Nicole Krauss, on a letter to Vincent Van Gogh