It’s like nature has placed us all in the Dojo of a Great Sensei. Knowing our egos are created through patterns, our world has been shaken and our patterns have been broken.
Our normal lives involve us switching between our identity as a spouse, to one as a fellow transit rider, to one as a co-worker, and one as a boss, and as an underling, etc. etc.
We may also be a child, a parent, a cousin, a dear friend, a close friend and an acquaintance to many others. And there are countless other fellow dance, or sport, or club parents and in each of these situations we have slightly different identities that we exhibit.
People who live their thoughts –which is almost everyone– will ‘be’ lots of different people throughout their day. The most common examples of people who don’t do that are the fairly elderly.
In the case of the elderly, they’re past their working days, so there’s no more performances there. Before that, anyone beholden to anyone for their pay will always have to do at least some performing. As Bob Dylan said, “You gotta serve somebody.” (You win Nobel Prizes for literature by thinking to perform that song to celebrities. 🙂 ).
Older people also have tighter groups of friends, so in general they get to ‘be themselves’ more. That in turn means that their personalities won’t waver a lot during a day, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Even the women reading this who are over 45 or 50 will likely remember a time in their recent history where they remember suddenly realizing that they no longer cared about what others thought about their appearance. They started caring what they thought.
Isn’t that awesome? That drop in insecure self-narrative has a teeter-totter reaction and confidence suddenly rises. As it does, it snaps the last few restraints that had been woven around us like fashion, by marketing and the peer pressure it breeds. After that? Freedom.
It’s like cultural menopause. A change is happening. Just like a woman shifts her focus from children and back to herself, our cultures are no longer about what they have been about. They are now not about a duty or responsibility, but a shared objective.
Companies are cooperating to save lives. Governments and politicians too. Many things have to change and we don’t even know how yet. But most people are coming to accept that it is not going back to what it was before. And most of us have a much greater sense of mortality, and that’s not a bad thing.
With so many patterns broken from the outside,the sense of confusion and lost-ness that many describe, existss because we cannot enact our performance identities. And like the newly retired person, we’re not exactly sure who we are.
And therein is our opportunity. We might still be a spouse or parent, but under lock-down conditions we haven’t been enacting those roles in their normal sense. So everything’s been dislodged. That makes now a good time to make changes.
We will still have some old grooves that we will fall into occasionally. But if we set a new course now, we have an unusually good chance of having at least some of the changes stick. With so many people in the world doing this at the same time, the world will change too.
So how did we wish we were different before? What were our goals as a human having a life? Did we want to be bolder? Quieter? Kinder? Less needy? More confident? Whatever it is, imagine yourself now being that person. Your brain has no firm identity going. It’ll be weirdly easy to load in a new one.
The other us’s were just performances based on thought too. So now that nature gave us a pretty blank slate, think someone else into being. Live their life by thinking the thoughts that you would think after you became that person. Because you have, as soon as you believe you have.
In the end, the ‘thoughts’ and the ‘becoming’ are kind of chicken-and-eggy if you get what I mean. But it’s why a strong understanding, coupled with being conscious of, and skillful with, ‘thought’ is so important. All I really do is train people to get good at controlling it. It’s not unlike Martial Arts at all. But our opponent is our ego. Now that yours has been subdued, take some control. It’s in you to do.
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 over-thinking, 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 still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.