Boing. Maybe you even have one of these wobblers on your desk or dashboard. They remind me of people. When we’re younger we have an idea of our lives that is unperturbed. It’s starts as a straight line. We have a general direction and lots of energy and we see no reason why our crisp clean dreams won’t line up.
But dreams are a form of expectation. And when we’re young we tend to overvalue the happiness that will be derived from the achieving the expectation, which leads to unhealthy attachments. Simultaneously we undervalue our own internal peace.
Many of us can remember some early, less mature relationships that we took to be true love, when really those were just some of our first encounters with non-familial love. They felt intense due to a lack of comparatives.
We overreact because we don’t realize we don’t yet have the spectrum of experience necessary to balance those feelings in a larger context. Later, we know that there are many forms of love, and yet love is still special because none of the forms are the same.
Our young love is true then, in the sense that we see none of the person’s undesirable traits when we look at them. But when we have limited experience it’ll be highly conditional love based on the person meeting our expectations, which were based on our dreams.
But they can’t act out our dreams. They have a dream of their own that they expect us to be a part of. And when we both first feel that impact to our egocentric, thought-based dreams, it sends us reeling.
Our pendulum naturally swings hard to one side, which in turn generates a near-equal and immediate response and we all fly back in the opposite direction.
Because our dreams of our future depend on this person loving us, we are prepared to reach too far to bend ourselves into our dream. But the more we demand, the more the person insists on being themselves, and the more they move away from us.
The push and pull between our ego and spirit has us pendulum-ing back and forth for a while before we calm down. (As an example, think of how teens and parents push against each other’s wills.)
What we really want in our lives is love. But if we mistake the person for the love then we can end up wobbling strongly off our center in our attempt to connect to the wrong aspect of someone. We can end up worshiping a finger rather than noticing that it’s pointing at the moon.
We eventually surrender our dream as we realize we’ve miscast it. As we wobble our way out of those thoughts, our emotional swings are consistently less dramatic until life gets almost too still and too boring.
Over time we get sanguine about the impacts. As each hit comes and does the same thing, and as we see ourselves react, it’s not like our life is rocked less; it’s more that we accept the extreme motion as a natural result of the intensity of the original event.
Rather than making it worse by hurrying to calm it, we can learn to just ride it more like a seasoned circus performer whose act is to gracefully balance. They can do that because they stop focusing on the external motion and they focus instead on maintaining their internal center of balance.
With any event, the less we focus on the impact and the faster we focus on the way out, the better. But this means letting go of our attachments. And even after we’ve grown in wisdom, that’s not a painless process.
It’s worth remembering, need some sources of sorrow too. Otherwise we’d lose all of the beautiful relevant art as well as all of the empathetic experiences we share and connect through. If we don’t know sorrow, a lot of the world’s art fades in beauty.
We can allow ourselves to swing from side to side when we’ve taken a hit. It makes us human. But we should avoid making that emotional sway into our identity. We’re still the thinker of those thoughts, we’re not the thoughts themselves.
We get to choose our thoughts and our attitude about life. But our control over that will get interrupted by emotional extremes that make us wobble. But once you feel them, before we wobble into the world too hard, we take that as a signal to reset and calm our internal voices.
Over time, and by nature, the swings always reduce in intensity as we learn to let our internal arguments go. And by the time our life is too still, a part of us will be secretly conspiring to get some drama back. Because deep down our spirit likes that drama. We can tell because, when we stop to think about it, most of our wobbles actually originate with us.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.