Look Beyond The Box

one of my paintings (untitled) from the Yoga series

one of my paintings (untitled) from the Yoga series

[continued from SEE THE BOX]

Craig’s question is bigger than a single post can accommodate. He’s both reflecting and asking several questions about the boxes people construct around themselves, about building personal “stages” and what becomes visible to us when we open ourselves to life without editor or inhibition. He’s asking deep river questions about the assumptions we make when we look at others through the lens of our own experience. He asked about what I see from my stage and when did I know to create my stage. And, here’s the kicker question, “When was the last time you stepped up and saw something you didn’t know was there?”

I want to start with the last question first because I believe it colors all of the other questions. At this point in my life, there isn’t a day that passes that I don’t see something surprising or new. I know that sounds like a superficial dodge until you consider that it wasn’t always the case. Like everyone else, I was schooled in a long series of mistaken notions: 1) that people need to know where they are going before they go there, 2) people need to know what they are doing before they do it, 3) knowing is something that happens in the head, and 4) that truth is singular and knowable; believers in right/wrong paradigms are especially fond of this point.

It took a few years (okay, decades) to realize that “knowing” is a process and not an arrival platform and, therefore, no body knows. People build boxes around themselves because they think they must know what is unknowable. People build boxes around themselves because they think they must look a certain way or think what others want them to think. People build boxes around themselves in an attempt to control what they can never control. No one really knows where they are going (well, everyone knows where they are going but dying is an existential question – a topic for another post). No one knows what tomorrow will bring. As Marshall McLuhan wrote, people step into the future with their eyes in the rearview mirror. We make sense of today through yesterday’s eyes so we can only “know” what happened, not what will happen. The day before September 11, 2001 people walked into airports to greet their friends and relatives at the gate. And then, the very next day, like millions of people, I sat in front of a television and watched a plane fly into the World Trade Center. That day I understood that what I thought I knew was basically useless.

Each of us has, at one time or another, had a personal September 11th. People learn. They grow. They have experiences and then make meaning of their experiences. People change. Life is a moving target. At one point in my life I started my own school within a school. It was experiential and filled with filmmaking and theatre and performance art. At the beginning of that era of my life I thought I would run that school until I the day I died. Three years later, I was done with my exploration in education and I surrendered my cushy tenured position and ran for the air of uncertainty. People story themselves according to inner imperatives through lenses of past experiences. The idea that we are primarily rational and reasonable is…not rational or reasonable.

At some point, when you cease thinking you know stuff, your eyes open. You see beyond what you think. Everything is surprising beyond the dull-wit of thinking. Thinking (a language-based activity) will always be an abstraction. Put a word on something and you delude yourself into thinking that you “know” what it is. This is especially heinous when applied to other people. People build boxes around themselves because of the words placed on them or the words they place on themselves.

Mostly, people build stages for the exact same reason. Saying, “I’m not going to be influenced by others; I’m going to act independent of others” is also a delusion constructed from notions of “knowing” or trying to determine how others will see you. Most stages are constructed from the desire to control. Sometimes the biggest box looks like a stage.

When you no longer need to know anything, you see surprising things everywhere you look.

[to be continued]

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

Go here for hard copies (it’s Amazon, don’t be afraid;-)

 

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