Imagine your life as a line of dashes: – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -. There’s no right or wrong place for this line to go, although some of you may choose various directions for various periods of your life. But even for those of you who are big on establishing a plan or direction—you too will have to change direction multiple times during your life as your perspective expands.
The gaps between the dashes are so infinitesimally small that you cannot ever hope to sense them, but—to use some terms from quantum mechanics—they represent the point where the wave of your potential future dashes becomes the dash-particle that you’ll experience as your present reality. That moment is where your salvation lays. That is the moment where you choose your future.
In each gap you choose your next thought-experience. So if you think a dreadful thought the next dash is a dreadful experience, and if you think a happy thought the next dash is a happy experience. The reason people struggle is that they’re focused on where their line is going relative to other people’s lines but that has nothing to do with happiness. The lines don’t go to happiness, the dashes are made of happiness. Those who are living in-the-moment aren’t dashing toward a good life. They are merely picking the best dash that’s currently available.
So let’s imagine the universe is a sheet of paper and that our lives are the lines we draw on that paper with our dashes. Because we’re limited in our thinking and we don’t have a God-like perspective, we cannot imagine the universe in all of its entirety, so as a way of making it comprehensible to us, we reduce it to an up and a down and a right and a left. This is really just so our dashed line can communicate to other dashed lines about our experience of moving around the sheet of paper that is the universe. That way we can say another line is to the left of us or above us, which means we’ve now made our position relative to someone else. Even though the paper itself has no up or down or right or left, we impose that idea on it so that we can talk to other dashes about our life position relative to theirs. That conversation between dashed lines is what we call one ego talking to another ego.
So what egos do is talk about where their line is, where other people’s lines are, and where we judge/think ours and their lines should be. This conversation of course is just drawing more dotted lines so in the end the ego is nothing more than a spin around oneself. It’s like a line circling in on itself in a downward spiral. The point in life isn’t to try to make the right choices that move your line up the paper, it’s to make the appropriate moment to moment choices that lead to the line itself being made up of as much joy and appreciation as possible.
In the end you can draw a line that stays right up near the top of the paper relative to other lines, but that won’t actually create a better life than the person who pays much more careful attention to only one choice: the choice involving the very next dash. This is called living in the moment and it is the most assured way of creating a beautiful life. Because where the line goes is not important at all because in the end we will eventually box ourselves in and we’ll run out of paper—at which time we die and are re-born onto a fresh, blank page. So since this all just ends anyway, stop worrying about where your line is relative to everyone else’s and instead just focus on your next dash. Focus on making the thought-choice that will lead to that dash being a rewarding experience and that will ultimately lead to the very best life possible.
Become more conscious of your thought choices. Spend less time thinking about your line and more time focused only on the very next dash. If your current dashes don’t feel good, then change the direction of your thinking. That’s the whole value in feelings. They’re a fantastic GPS system for our thoughts. They let you know right away which direction you’re headed so that if it’s not the direction you truly want, you can use that feedback to make the appropriate changes to the course of your thinking.
It’s really much easier than most people imagine. You just have to have the patience to watch your thinking over a long enough time that it starts to slow down, and thereby allows you to intervene and make the best possible choice for your next dash forward.
Here’s to an awesome moment, minute, hour, day, week, month and year. Every dash is a fresh opportunity. Enjoy your right to choose.
Following a childhood accident should have left him dead, Scott McPherson spent his life meditating on thought, consciousness, reality and the self. Seeing the emotional damage done by ego-based overthinking he began dedicating a part of his life to guiding students toward more peaceful and rewarding lives. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, Canada.