Exit The Circle

Mind Chatter

Mind Chatter

Jen came over today. She is taking a photography class and her assignment this week is to take pictures of people. She is working on mastering depth of field and introduced me to my favorite new term: circle of confusion (note: depth of field is also a great term but is less ominous!). I spent several minutes reading definitions for circle of confusion. This is the kind of stuff I encountered:

A lens cannot resolve a point exactly. Instead it creates a small circle of light called the ‘Circle of Confusion’ (from photoconnexion.com)

What does that mean? In my search for definitions of ‘circle of confusion’ I entered a circle of confusion! I kept digging and I learned that the term predates photography and originated in the study of optics. So, this is my stab at defining a circle of confusion for myself: my eye (or a camera lens) breaks an image into dots and the dots can never be completely focused. So, each dot is rimmed with a circle of light. In an image that appears to be completely focused, the light circle is very, very small so the dots are closer together and make a sharp image. In an image that appears unfocused, the light circle is large so the dots are farther apart, making a fuzzy image. This circle of light is called a circle of confusion, a blur circle, or a blur spot.

The greater the circle of light around the dot, the greater the potential for confusion. What a fantastic metaphor! The same concept applies to the imagination. I have friends who’ve always known what they wanted to become when they grew up. They had a sharp, clear picture of what they wanted to do with their lives. They imagined a clear, focused target-life. For instance, when I was in college, my best friend Roger knew that he wanted to direct plays and, more specifically, he wanted to direct plays at The Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts. Thirty years later, Roger has spent his career at PCPA directing plays. His actions were distinctly aimed at a very clear image-target. He did not spend much time wondering what he wanted to do with his life. Roger has lived with a smaller circle of confusion than most of us.

The metaphor could also be applied this way: If people were dots, the circle of light surrounding them would be their mind chatter. The greater the mind-chatter the greater the circle of light, the greater is the potential for confusion. Buck Busfield used to say of people with loud mind-chatter, “That guy has a big dog barking in his head.” The Buddhists call mind-chatter, “monkey mind.” A person with monkey mind is a person with a large circle of confusion; their dots can’t focus through the noise. Victim stories come with lots of mind chatter. So do blame stories or a fix-it mentality.

When we see and own our choices, we reduce the size of our circle of confusion. That’s how choice works. When we invest in stories like, “I have to…,” or “I should…,” stories that lead us to believe that we have no choice, we amplify our circle of confusion. Embracing our choices makes intentions clear. Embracing our choices clarifies our life-target. The noise in our minds quiets. It’s an equation: own your choices and your mind quiets. There’s less division in a mind that says, “I choose,” so there is less need for inner debate. If you want to exit your circle of confusion, start by seeing how vast is your capacity for choice.

Go here to get my latest book, The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, title_pageSeeker, Learner, Leader, Creator…You.

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