Thursday, April 21, 2016

Finding The Way

What you see often depends on where you look. Seems obvious, doesn’t it? If you look in the forest, you’ll see trees. If you look in the ocean, you’ll see water. The thing is, it is both bigger and smaller than that at once. Clearly you can see more than just the large, obvious parts. You can even see more than the small, obvious parts like animals and fish. Keep looking and you will see the entire universe. It’s all there, in a single leaf or a single drop of water. It’s all there in a single life, but you won’t see it if you don’t look for it.

Most of my readers will be familiar with the tale of the blind men and the elephant, wherein a group of blind men try to describe and identify an elephant based only on the portion that each man can touch. One man grabs a tail, another feels a tusk, a third man feels an ear, and so on. Each man describes the part he has experienced, and each is convinced that the others are wrong when their descriptions do not match. Each man is, of course, entirely correct as far as his own experience goes, but his own experience is limited and incomplete. He is not “seeing” everything that is available, and is focusing exclusively on the one part that has come to his attention.

This is how we tend to live our lives. One part of an experience grabs our attention and becomes, in our minds, the entire experience. If you think about it, though, you know that the odds of truly grasping an entire experience - any entire experience - are slight. Our perceptions just don’t work that way. There are parts of any experience that are giant flashing neon signs, screaming for attention, and then there are other parts that are more difficult to see without actively trying to do so. Even further along, there are parts of any experience that may not be seen without special effort being applied, and there may be even more that will go entirely unnoticed unless someone else already aware brings that to our attention. To make matters so much more fun, there may also be parts of an experience that we simply are not capable of knowing about yet. Think about the discovery of the atom, and then take a moment to wonder about what discoveries are still in the future. There is probably more to every experience in your life than you are ever fully aware of.

When our world is rocked by any large experience, this truth becomes even more true, and even more important to remember. A large emotion, especially one that is a shock or surprise, is like that neon sign with the brightness turned up to its maximum setting. It takes center stage and makes it much more difficult to see anything else, but everything else is still there. It’s just behind the glare.

It’s easy to get stuck staring at the neon sign, but that’s not usually very helpful. The neon sign is there. It will continue to be there, it will probably even continue to dominate the landscape if you look at something else. That being the case, why not see what else is there?

If your neon sign is something positive - a new love, a new baby, a new job - make sure you continue to look around at the more mundane parts of your life. They’re still there and still need your attention, despite not being as attractive or attention-getting as your neon sign. You have to pay the bills, you have to cook dinner, you have to change clothes occasionally. Yes, I’ve seen people forget because they were too happy.

If your neon sign is something negative - loss, illness, pain - it can be even more necessary to remember to look around you at the other parts of your life. They too are still there and still need your attention. More importantly, though, you still need their attention. You need to remember that the neon sign is a part of your life, not the whole of your life. There is still hope in a blooming flower, joy in a child’s eyes, and peace in a summer rain. It can be difficult to find the happy things when your heart is broken, but they are still there. You just have to look.

There is no map with an X marking the spot of where each of these things reside. There is no key that says Here There Be Dragons and Here There Be Roses. The way through to your need is as simple as looking, and as complicated as looking. What are you looking at?

All experience is contained within every experience. The universe is the atom. The proportions appear to be different because of the perspective of the observer, but that perspective is constantly changing. The way out is within, and you already hold the key. It’s up to you to use it, though. It is up to you to look, and, as you look, you will begin to see.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date.

Follow Frequently Interrupted with Bloglovin