I was moving between two writing projects and I needed some sorbet for my brain. For some reason I had a curious craving for mathematics. I was combing my library for a couple of books when I stumbled upon one I remembered buying when I first lived in Australia. My girlfriend and I had a formidable library there, but we left it all behind and only took a few meaningful books when we moved back to Canada, and Gary Zukav’s The Dancing Wu Li Masters was one of the ones I took. Seeing it again triggered a distinct memory of something a previous me once thought.
I clearly recalled using a eucalyptus leaf for a bookmark at the beach one day. And I remember finding it still in the book when I was packing to move back to Canada. And I remembered putting it back in there and thinking to myself, maybe some day I’ll open that book and see that leaf and I’ll remember putting it in there. Bam.
That’s wild, eh? I was a kid. Not a single cell of the current me—or the me before that—was even around for that previous me. I ate a bunch of apples and potatoes and carrots and salmon and I lost some hair and shed a few layers of skin, and I flushed away various aspects of me etc. etc. to the point where the guy that put that leaf in the book was literally a different person from the guy that found the leaf in the book. And I mean that totally seriously.
This is where you’re missing how reality works and that’s why you suffer. So don’t just dismiss this as something complicated or silly or confusing. Yeah, if it was easy everyone would be enlightened. But it’s not hard either. It’s just that almost no one seriously tries. So just think about it. I am literally not the same person as the man who put the leaf into the book in the first place. I have much different beliefs, we have completely different cells in our bodies, and I have had experiences that he has not had. And yet we can interact through time with a connection as delicate as a thin, dry leaf.
I know what I believed back then. My experiences were much more limited so I could still believe untenable things. As I moved through life and had more and more experiences and as I heard about other people’s experiences, I came to realize that many of my views were effectively impossible. My mind opened as I understood more about different situations. And as my cells died and new ones were born, so too did ideas die and new ones arose. There is no place to measure from or to, but ultimately I became, over time, a completely new person who knows and understands the former me without actually being him.
You are constantly changing in a variety of ways. Never feel like your life cannot be reinvented. New ideas can create new opportunities which can invigorate any lifetime. So keep in mind that you will be several versions of yourself in your lifetime. But unless you choose to make those people consciously, that choice will always be by chance. Rather than creating it, you’ll simply recognize it after it happens. So the real question is, how soon will you start making that choice consciously? Because the sooner you do that the sooner you will own your life. And only then will it begin to vibrate with a deep and profound resonance that goes with having found your own path. Enjoy.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.