Your mind is massive, gargantuan as a cityscape; let’s say it’s at least as big as New York City: each street is a neural path, each thought a vehicle, be it a pedestrian, a bike, or a car in transit. Now, normally as one individual in traffic, you can only be in one mode of movement; however as you move through your mind, you can follow any one individual thought; you can, say, enter a taxi that is “my dad is going to die someday”, then you follow that thought through all its twists and turns down logical avenues to its destination, which for me leads itself to anxiety: regret at the past, fear in the present, worry for the future.

Then, let's suppose, you are the mayor of the city, and you feel a responsibility to everything that moves throughout. You want the best for the city, and there’s no room in it for road rage. So you “try to stop" all the angry movers. The trouble is those movers tend to somehow still get around, and they stay in your city; maybe sometimes they come from a neighboring municipality, another time a native sneaks by, and you suddenly find yourself inside another taxi, perhaps “winning” an argument you lost earlier in the day. You slump over, defeated. But the traffic is an illusion and your responsibility to it is fabricated.

You are not the mayor of NYC; something more interesting and wonderful and overwhelming is true: you are the entirety of the city. You aren’t your thoughts; you aren’t even a collection of your thoughts over time; you are an observer, as attached or detached as you want to be. Even if you choose to be less indifferent than a city and you choose attachment, there are external forces beyond you, a hurricane hits or even just a fog rolls in; these I call moods, and there's a misconception you can "clean up" your moods and the emotions that spring up from them. You can only control so much as your free will allows, or maybe control is the illusion; perhaps you can only stand in the presence of a force of nature, something as big as a climate or small as a cloud, impossible to stop, manipulate, censor, ignore, evade; the only possibility is to exist within it, and let it be. When these things come and go like the ups and downs of a sine wave, you can either ride on that roller coaster or be beside it chanting "This too shall pass, this too shall pass."

Personally, I still very much enjoy the roller coaster ride. I enjoy fighting demons and kissing an angel because, I reason, I am not yet dead, or zen. I am indeed inside the city of New York; I am not yet the city underneath my body, experiencing as a city experiences, but am only my body as it experiences the city, and the continent, and the earth. You could be a witness to the whole universe; your consciousness could include not just your own but others'. The best place I've found to start is to sit still, to be quiet, to listen to your automatic & constant breath, and become the silence between your thoughts; after, when your eyes open, the universe will unfold in front of you.

You will awake to be simply that one body, in that still quiet, yet a witness to everythingness.

Adam Papes