At each moment, I say to myself, suppose I were at the end of my life, and I were transported back to this moment, to be able to live my life again. I’m here, new, the first moment of my second chance. What do I do with it?
We always think of ourselves as at the end of a long history which we imagine is trapping us, defining us and our world; our mistakes, our successes. But if we thought of this moment as a fresh beginning, rather than the end of a history of events, we would see there are vast possibilities in our present moment now. We don’t have to keep doing what we’ve been doing. If we had a second chance, we could do anything, we have the whole wide world in front of us… would we just repeat our past patterns or joyously start fresh?
There’s no reason why, as adults, we have to restrict ourselves to our habits, our knee-jerk reactions, our comfort zone. We can start over, every fresh new moment, with all our knowledge and experience, but not constrained by it but simply informed by it. Simple yet it’s hard to even notice we’re treating our lives as a great big experiment in repetition and not paying attention.
Not paying attention, because: if we really were paying attention, we wouldn’t jump to conclusions quite so readily, we wouldn’t be so sure our story was true, was fact, was set in stone. We would be a little more open to the possibility that we don’t, in fact, know what our world is, what we are doing, and the limits of our world. If we had a moment to look at things new, with a little more doubt, we could see infinite spaces open up in between our judgements and thoughts, and perhaps we’d have a chance to flex ourselves in directions we didn’t even conceive of before.
The same goes for listening, reading, thinking … when we listen to something we’ve heard before, when we read something we’ve read before, or something like it, we tend not to actually think about it again, fresh, re-checking it, but instead we consult our memory and replace the fresh experience of the idea(s) with a memory of having encountered the thought before. We take the memory placeholder as a stand-in for the idea. But this is useless and harmful, for a number of reasons: the memory is itself embedded in habits and contexts which are no longer nearly as relevant now, by doing this, we fail to refresh and re-check the idea, so that it can be expanded beyond the confines of how it worked for us in the past, and we also deprive ourselves of the advantage of putting our minds through the process of thinking about the idea afresh, which is always the best way to “remember” anything — not by remembering it, but by recreating it from scratch. Don’t take that retread: the “memory” of an idea, which is mere propaganda. Every idea has a vast new possibility of application with each moment; evolution, expansion, even refutation. An idea, repeated, can be a gateway to a new insight, even if we’ve heard it or read it or thought it a thousand times before, by re-thinking it, recreating it as though we’d never heard it before. It’s only then we have the chance to see new dimensions of it, and to reapply it to our ever-changing and always unique presence with the world.permalink |