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The Tinkered Mind
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July 12th, 2018
This episode references Episode 77: The Proper Way to Fail. If you'd like to fully understand the reference, please check out that episode first.
For a moment, imagine being a tightrope walker. High up, with no net.
How would we manage our concentration in this situation?
FAILURE is simple and obvious. There are two major directions that we need to be concerned about. Too far in either direction and it spells disaster. Balance derives literally from ‘having two scalepans”.
For things to remain stable we pit one against the other. Too much left is rebalanced by leaning a little to the right.
And for this to be achieved continuously, we have to remain attentive and in the moment.
All of this about tightrope walking is obvious, but tightrope walking offers an even richer analogy beyond the literal need to stay attentive and faithful to the present moment.
For a moment, imagine that on one side of this tightrope is the past and the other is the future. During the day, our mind is a sea of thoughts. Troublingly few are actually about the present. Most often we are dreaming or dreading the future or regretting and reliving the past. Every moment our mind is walking a tightrope between these two endlessly large concepts. We fail to remain present and we fall into thinking about the past or the future. Life passes us by in these moments.
But neither can or should be vilified. Like the pull to fall on either side of the tightrope walker, the present requires the future and the past, balanced against one another in harmony, and our ability to exist in the moment requires balancing all that we have been and all that we have experienced against all that might happen and all that we might be. By this balance can we nullify the past with the possibility of the future, build the future with the lessons of the past and achieve a virtuous cancelling with one leaning against the other, leaving us squarely in the present.
We’ve all learned how to balance enough for daily activities, but anyone can admit that it would take more learning and practice to reliably walk an actual tightrope. The case is the same when it comes to staying in the present moment. We all have the tools and some experience, but doing it reliably on command and consistently requires more learning and focused practice.
Are we going to look at the tightrope and just say we can’t do it?
Are we going to make an excuse of having too many thoughts. Too much chaos, too many emotions?
Or are we going to do something, take action and try a strategy in order to keep balanced?