I’m a reasonably smart person. I have a brain that constantly sifts through data and analyzes it endlessly, looking for connections and correlations. When combined with my curiosity over just about everything under the sun, I spend a lot of time in my head thinking about stuff.
I’ve never been one of those people who can empty my mind. Instead, I have multiple layers of thought flowing simultaneously through my brain. If you could step inside my head you would understand. It is a cacophony in there, with noisy thoughts piling up just waiting to come to the forefront of my attention.
That’s why, when I receive a new piece of information, I think about it. I have a tendency to intellectualize everything. My first instinct with each new concept I encounter is to try and understand it from a rational level. If I’m dealing with a mathematical or scientific concept, then it’s all well and good. As my brain picks it apart and puts it back together, I am more able to store the information for use at a later point.
When the concept is one that I need to feel to “get,” however, I struggle. There are many ideas I’ve desperately tried to intellectualize over the years that truly defy rational analysis and instead must resonate on some deeper intuitive level. My tendency to intellectualize and rationalize is the reason I’ve been all over the map about God, for instance. It is also why my belief in supernatural phenomena ranges so widely depending on how far out I am from the stimulus that sparked belief in the first place.
For me, it’s always been a dichotomy. My heart wants to embrace those things exceeding the bounds of physicality: the human soul, spirituality, the underlying interconnectedness of the universe. My head has other ideas. In the very moment I experience something larger than the physical with the potential to emotionally and spiritually transform my universe, I am the biggest believer on the planet. Some experiences are so crystalline and perfect, to embrace them as they occur feels as if I am truly floating in the arms of God and in that moment I have peeked under the universe’s skirt. I ride that high for a while. Then my brain kicks in with the intellectualizing, and slowly whatever sustenance I received in the moment slips away in the incessant chatter of an overly analytical mind.
I live amidst a battle between my head and my heart. Frequently, what I feel and what I think are at odds. Yet, I often struggle with a concept mightily in my mind for days, weeks, months, or years on end. And then, one day it will happen. I get out of my head for just a moment, and the concept with which I have been struggling suddenly settles into me as a knowing. It is as if, just for a moment, I’ve stepped out of my head and my heart has spoken.