“23. The unwise man waketh all night,
thinking of this and that— tosses, sleepless,
and is tired at morn: nor lighter for that his load.”
— The Havamal, trans. Lee Hollander
Morbid rumination is always my curse. I know enough of the ways of mindfulness to try to still the obsessive thought that possess me like a song stuck in the head, but when the djinn serotonin runs rampant in the brain it is hard to free the mind from dwelling on what seems wrong or fearful. Fifteen years as a project manager, trained to envision the worst and plan for it–always imagining the light at the end of the tunnel is a train–has programmed me too well, and i could not have chosen a worse career for someone of my particular melancholy complaint.
This verse resonates powerfully with me, and I pray to Thor for strength to confront directly the real troubles of the world with a spirit of clear joy in my wyrd, as he took the jontun’s challenge and fished manfully for the world serpent of Midgard Jörmungandr, an expedition that could only end in failure or death. Thor’s final, fatal battle with the serpent is reserved for Ragnarok, the final battle, and the God did not slay the serpent on his fishing expedition but did bring home with whales and the cauldron of Hymir in which the mead of Asgard is brewed.
My lesson from this verse is that the morbid worries that posses me must be put out of my mind until the proper, allotted time for dealing with them, and to confront them when they trouble me–as Thor lustily fished and fought Jörmungandr–with a clear spirit until they can be cut loose and returned to the deeps of my mind.