My daughter and I have an interesting pastime. We take long walks in the evening, and talk about stuff. Just stuff. Some of it is trivial and silly. Other things are profound and deep.
In your world, do people walk on the roof? Or do trees hang out of the sky?
Of course, not.
Yet, if you study the way that images of various objects in your Universe are projected onto your eye, you’ll realize that’s exactly how they should appear.
Your brain does some nimble jujitsu – and flips the inverted image around… so that everything “makes sense”.
Now think of a kaleidoscope. Isn’t it amazing how just 3 carefully oriented mirrors can turn the same few grains of colored glass or sand into such a wide array of fascinating, unique patterns?
These are just a very tiny example of our brain’s enormous potential for “manipulating” data and arriving at conclusions. We may each process the same (or similar) inputs, but nurture widely divergent impressions that are derived from them.
Those perceptions are what, collectively, make up our ‘world view’ or belief systems.
The good (bad?) news is that YOU have the power to flip them around – just like you do with the image that falls upon your retina – to “make sense”.
Contrasting when I was in my thirties against being 40+ years old now, there’s a significant shift in my attitude, perspective and thinking.
Maybe it is similar for many others, too. (Including you?)
Typically, the first 3 decades of our life is spent growing up, and acquiring skills or knowledge. By the time we’re 30, it’s time to put it all into action.
If one word could describe how I felt around that age, it would be “hungry”.
Hungry for fame. Hungry for success. Hungry for wealth.
And for achievement, making dreams come true, and reaching for the stars.
Like a heavyweight boxer who knows every punch he lands in the ring carries the terrible impact of hundreds of hours of training, I knew that my actions will also pack a powerful punch. Behind that lies the force of all the learning and practice that went earlier.
And I was eager to get in as many as I could on target.
Turning forty added one significant shift. Knowing the power that’s available on tap, the question arose of whether or not to use it, and when.
The word that now took precedence over “hungry” was – “reflective“.
No, the ambitions didn’t weaken. The dream didn’t fade. The vision wasn’t growing dim.
But alongside it, another presence grew stronger – and it kept asking “Why?”
There was a time when I wouldn’t think twice about staying up all night working on something important, just to get it done. Today I wonder if that’s really necessary.
There were occasions where I would happily plot the downfall of someone – a competitior, a rival, a critic – who got in the way of my eager enthusiasm to work towards a challenging goal. These days, I don’t think it matters so much as getting things done in another way, bypassing him (or her).
There used to be circumstances when I’d place my fiery desire for a worthy result ahead of everything else in my life. Now, the passion still burns strong – but isn’t a constant, roaring, all-consuming flame.
I have grown reflective.
Because my philosophy has changed.
With wider experience, more reading, intimate interaction with more people, and a deeper empathy with cross-sections of humanity I’ve never known (or cared much for) earlier, there are many more and variegated threads in the rich tapestry of my life.
As I ponder these changes at the end of the first decade of a new century, I can’t help but wonder how much more will evolve at each succeeding landmark – fifty, sixty, seventy, and beyond.
I can’t wait to see!
(If you’re older – or even younger – and would care to give it a thought, tell me what YOUR word is for the decade that’s gone, and the one that is. Tweet me @drmani on Twitter!)
As I walked back home after dropping my daughter off at school – an enjoyable thing I’ve done off and on for 9 years – I had an interesting internal mini-conversation.
Now and again, tiny ripples appear on the surface. Or a disruption creates a small splash.
That’s us. The temporary disturbance in the permanent, everlasting stillness of a collective consciousness.