The key thing to remember is that we don’t move away from real pain; we move away from what we believe will lead to pain.
– Anthony Robbins.
This post is really refusing to cooperate. Maybe he feels too much pressure to live up to the grand, flowing oratory of his older brothers. What if he has fewer words than them? Does that make him inferior? Perhaps he will not be able to muster the mental fortitude to venture into the realms of analogy, or to probe the definition and boundaries of reality. Unfortunately for the post, his vote does not matter. Whether or not he likes it, he is going to be written.
My reading today was largely a continuation on the theme I discussed yesterday. The new material is summed up quite nicely by the quote above – the true Platonic “form” of reality is much less important than what we perceive as reality. Whenever we are faced with a choice we fall back (generally unconsciously) to what Anthony Robbins calls our “belief systems”. At their most basic, these belief systems are the generalizations that we have made about what will bring us pleasure or cause us pain. They are the tracks that we can see heading back to where our little train came from. We try to make some prediction of what the future will bring us by examining the path that has brought us to our current location. Unfortunately this often leads us to incorrect conclusions about the path before us. It limits our view to only what will be if nothing is changed. I believe the main benefit of discussing what seems to be the same topic, from a different angle, is that it can allow us to determine where we acquired our opinions on what will bring us pleasure and pain.
As always, feel free to comment!
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
– Marcus Aurelius
I spent quite a lot of time today thinking about the post that I published yesterday. There is a part of me that wants to share what I wrote to the world, and another part that is not entirely sure it is comfortable with the world knowing that I wrote it. Last night the more conservative side of me won. I have to admit that my heart skipped quite a few beats when I saw the post I had just published at the top of my Facebook news feed. What a way to be reminded that I had linked this blog to all of my social media! I quickly removed the offending posts to give myself time to decide what I actually wanted to do. After talking with my awesome wife this morning I decided that I would continue to write about and share my thoughts over the next twenty-one days as I read through Awaken the Giant Within.
There is something almost magical for me about trying to shape words to accurately portray my thoughts. It reminds me of how Michelangelo described creating a sculpture.
“To sculpt means to take away, not to add, because the sculpture already exists inside of the marble. The only thing the sculptor has to do is liberate the figure imprisoned in the marble.”
Each time I find the correct word it is as if another chip of stone flies off the block, further revealing the existence of the form I am trying to bring into reality. While engaging in this literary sculpture I have often experienced something that is – at least for me – a unique phenomenon. By working to clearly convey my thoughts about “A” I learn more about “A.” That is to be expected – but there is almost always a moment when I discover something so unrelated to “A” as to only be a completely different idea. It is often these secondary ideas that are the most beneficial and real to me. The anticipation of finding more hidden treasures is almost the entire reason that I write.
My reading today highlighted the concept of reality. So often we see our situation in life as part of an unending reality that we exist in. True, the stage of life that we are currently experiencing within that reality will change – we move out of the house, enroll in college, get married, and start our own families – but this is all happening within what we view as our reality. Imagine that you are a train traveling across the United States. There are times when you have to work your hardest to climb the mountains and others where you are able to almost effortlessly glide along. As long as you are moving forward you are getting closer to achieving your goal; however you are restricted by the rails that you are on. These rails are what we view as our reality. This reality is bounded on one side by what causes us pain and on the other by what brings us pleasure. All of the decisions we make are either to avoid pain or to get pleasure. When we are caught up in “Niagara Syndrome” we see these rails running unbroken, into the distance when in fact there is an infinite set of rails, and all that is required to move to them is to redefine what brings pain and pleasure. Suddenly we are in a completely different reality. This concept is illustrated quite well by the quote I included at the beginning of this post. I have often attributed inordinate amounts of pain to something that I viewed as an inescapable truth of reality and this is a wonderful reminder to that when looked at objectively, there are few things as scary as their shadow makes them out to be.
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
I originally created this blog with the intention of indulging my love of international relations with an outlet. There were grand visions of how my unique insights would enlighten those who thought the machinations of countries were unfathomable. I would unveil secretive attempts to suppress freedom and laud those brave enough to stand for it. Why someone who was so uninterested in international relations, and whether people “over there” were free, would read a blog dedicated to that subject was not important. I was preparing to write my own version of the Great American
However, as I looked in vain for the perfect story to launch my soon-to-be famous blogging career, I realized that I could benefit from examining a subject much closer to home – myself. I have come to believe that it is impossible to examine freedom and decision-making on a global scale if I have no understanding of how I personally define freedom and make decisions. Without a firm understanding of the way that I live my life there is no way for me to anticipate what I am likely to encounter tomorrow, much less what may happen in a given country or region.
As part of my journey to learn about myself I have begun to read the book Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins. One of the concepts he talks about early in the book is the prevalence of “The Niagara Syndrome.” This syndrome is eloquently summarized in Bilbo Baggins’ well-known quote at the beginning of this post. Many people, including me, allow themselves to be swept along by the currents of life without really looking at where their current path will take them. They only realize their destination when they see the spray, and hear the roar of the fast approaching waterfall.
I recently had the good fortune of surviving a drop off one of these waterfalls, and I’ve decided that I do not enjoy wondering if my little barrel will be able to withstand the force of entering water that is an unknown distance below me. I am determined to keep my feet under me everyday. While this blog is going to be very different that I ever thought it would be, I’d like to invite you to join me on own “unexpected journey.” I am not sure where we will end up, but I know that we will not get there by accident – I have had enough of that for one lifetime.