There's more room in a broken heart, but less sense in a broken brain
Why you should never make decisions in the immediate aftermath of a breakup or a concussion
Thank you to Carly Simon for the first part of the title, from the brilliant song “Coming Around Again.” The second half is all mine.
Everyone has had breakups, and most people have had concussions, even if you don’t know it. If you’ve ever hit your head hard, had a black eye, or lost consciousness and seemed a little weird after, you’ve had a concussion.
I’ve had both, and here is what I’ve learned. It can be applied to any major change: the loss or a job or a job change, a move to a new place, the loss of a friend or a beloved pet, winning that dream job you always wanted, any massive shock to the system.
A shock may jolt you into being open to a new perspective. You may see things you haven’t before, consider possibilities you never did. Childhood dreams may resurface, or you may discover something you thought you loved to do simply bores you now. (Like golf. I know a lot of men who after a major life change gave up golf. You tell me, I’m not a golfer or a man.)
I had my biggest breakthrough in my Zen practice a few days after a concussion. Now you have to work with a teacher to consolidate any breakthrough, and I have, consistently, for years. But the concussion broke through that constant running of anxieties and to-do lists and people I’m supposed to please to give me the ability to for a moment see things in this very present moment.
For the record: I AM NOT RECOMMENDING CONCUSSIONS. Do not go bang your head and say April told me to do it. I did not! I do highly recommend Zen meditation though. It’s the very old-fashioned way to get there.
During this time of openness right after a major shock, you may have many ideas. Most of them will be bats**t crazy. You will get over them.
BUT! Write them down. Tell someone who won’t tell you to get over yourself. Or as one of my dearest friends once said, “You need to chill with your bad self!” Record them.
They are inspiration. You may not become an astronaut (do they even have those anymore?) but you may rekindle an interest in astronomy. You will not fly off into the sunset with the person you have a crush on now, but you might be more likely to notice someone similar if they flew into your orbit.
BUT! Do not make any decisions. Do not do anything. Do nothing. As I used to say when I led organizing campaigns and all the junior organizers would want to respond to the boss’ most recent anti-union leaflet, “Don’t just do something! Stand there!”
(Aside: I’ll write about how you never respond directly to the opposition soon. Remind me if I forget.)
Wait. Rest. Rest a lot. Do fun things. Take pictures of flowers. But do not act on any of your ideas.
Wait. Awhile. You’ll know when the stars align.
AHSOKA SPOILER ALERT!
When you’re ready, you’ll know.
And whatever you do, do not start a PhD. At least not on a fresh concussion. Getting a PhD. It’s a bad idea, right?