The naive believes everything, But the sensible man considers his steps.

Pro 14:15

All my life, whenever my mind was tickled, it actually answered with a storm of thoughts. For years, this was too much for me. All those sensations. So I turned off most of them.

I did not smell or taste any longer, excluded much of touch, and learned to shut out the world by not hearing if I did not want to. I loved minimalism before it was a buzzword to keep the sensations low at least in the environments I could control.

Much of this, obviously, did not happen consciously. It was unconscious self-defence.

It became worse when I gave my life to Jesus. Not the usual testimony, I guess. But going to church just added new sensations to my life: as an introvert, I struggle with crowds, where a crowd is anything with more than 2 people including myself – unless I am very familiar with those people. That raises the bar somewhat.

Church was loud, crowded, and most people want to have it cozy. Thus, the church building is all but minimalistic. Small-talk, byte-sized messages, pre-digested to be eupeptic. And as a leader and later pastor, everybody wanted a piece of me.

And still, the messages lit a firework in my brain, going for days each week. Nobody to talk to about this, as nobody wanted to dive too deep.

And for years, I got overwhelmed. But being a Christian leader, I wanted to conform to what was expected. Luckily, I still was working as a computer programmer and software architect, and projected much of my problem on that. My overthinking surely was because of the analytical nature of my job.

And even when IT grew stale and boring, risk free and same old same old all over again, I blamed work for my problems as it would not fulfil my need to think any longer. And I changed jobs at an ever more rapid pace.

But then, in 2016, I stopped. I was given back my ability to smell and taste, thank God, and sensorial overflow flashed me for about 6 months, and often still does. I literally disintegrated. I became a basket case with prostate cancer, at times not able to take the daylight, not standing crowds even more than before. But this time, I did not run.

I could have shut down my system again and gone back to a save place, A save place of fitting in and numbly living my life. But I decided to let disintegration happen. And boy, it did and still does.

What does disintegration look like for me? I take every action and ask myself whether I want to do that because I want to conform or whether I want to do that. Period. This way, I learn about my motivations, my personality, who I truly am.

I take my time reflecting, and often that is hours a day. While I physically recover, I have the privilege to have time to search.

For many, this looks like depression. And it well might be at times. Disintegration is not pretty. It is work that no-one sees.

Most people do not know. And that is just fine.

When I re-integrate, they will see me for who I am. And maybe love me.

When I think about something,
my thoughts explode.
When I develop a concept,
my head is in rage.
When I brainstorm a topic,
a storm it sure is.
When I imagine a field,
I am diving deep.

I had a network,
a worldview,
it broke.

I disintegrated,
I fell apart.

Rebuilding myself,
much time it takes.
The people that knew me
still think they do.
That is because little
thinking they do.
It baffles, astonishes me,
how little they know.

Rebuilding a network,
a worldview,
a slant.

Third factor, fifth level,
observing from yellow.
I re-integrated

Ralph Rickenbach, 18. 6. 2019