As we go through life – and this is doubly so when we are young, for it starts very early on – we hear things, see things, and learn things about the world and about living in it. Things that we ourselves are years away from having to actually live through or to deal with. Even in the cases where we experience some aspect(s) of it directly, like being a child of a parent, we are not on that end of it yet. It is still some other world that lives out there in our, potential, future.
But we’re still getting ready for it. Not deliberately… no, our minds are simply always vacuuming in all the data it can and vacuuming it in from everywhere. Some comes from directly observing those around us, some comes from hearing what they say and describe, some comes from education, and a surprising amount comes from the stories we hear. Just by the sheer amount and presence of media (be it books, movies, TV, etc) and, especially, due to the narrative structures they use to make it compelling, the stories we consume play a big role in what goes into our vacuum.
And like that our minds continue to pull it all in, cross-referencing, checking which ones agree with each other, bolstering those that are repeated, and all the while forming its model of the world. A model that turns out to be invisible to us and that is, to our day-in and day-out lived experience, simply reality. It’s how things are.
Until that one day when BAM! In an instant we cross that bridge and are now confronted with a whole ‘new’ situation. BAM, married. BAM, a parent. BAM, in the workforce. BAM, an adult. BAM, (fill in the blank here). All of a sudden, we’re thrust into it. We’ve never been there. We’ve never done this. We’ve never been in this position before. There’s nothing for our prediction engine to guide us on how to behave/be/act.
Except, of course, for those realities, all those things about the world and living in it that, for years, our mind has dutifully been storing and crafting. And so we immediately pull from it, and likewise immediately begin living it out. We perpetuate it. It becomes a self-fulfilling story. Even if the outcome may not be great or bring us or those around us joy, freedom, love, or peace of mind, it’s how it IS… we’ve even got all this evidence for it. How could we act or be in any other way? It’d be like breaking the laws of physics, right?
Not at all. No physics breaking required. Just being present, mindful, and remembering that many of the ways we experience things and many of the ways we be in life are not intentional on our part. We weren’t squeezed out of the womb with it. Rather, we are just repeating a pattern that we automatically cobbled together over time. And, most importantly, it doesn’t have to be that way, nor do we have to be that way. It is interruptable.
And with that we instantly gain a measure of freedom and choice. In that clearing, we can reorient ourselves towards new and glorious possibilities, possibilities that enliven us and all those around us.