Quick. There isn’t much time. Canadian researchers say human attention spans have dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2015—note: goldfish have 9 (source).
Cue happy music: George Harrison “What is life?”.
The point is… everyone—including you—is a character in a story. Your story has settings, plots and themes (the big ideas). You narrate your story to yourself. Your story begins and ends but of that ending you don’t know. According to science, when this is over you won’t know you don’t know (see scientific analysis: “What is life? Is death real?”).
From a first-person perspective this is it. Right here and now—that’s all she wrote. But what if this first person perspective is not all there is?
If we are organic machines who seek meaning and/or diversion, does that make us each a one-man band self-contained like a water-balloon with big ideas in a world of sharp objects?
(Probably.)You can look at someone and see their story. You can tell what a person is thinking, feeling and intending. Science says it’s because we have mirror neurons in the brain, but in our hearts we know it’s because we “Walk the Line”.
On the one hand we have a strong sense of freedom—we believe we have free will—but on the other hand, we have a funny feeling that we could be mistaken.
Byron Reese, author of The Fourth Age, says it’s hard to account for free will given our two sets of natural laws: Newtonian physics—every cause has an effect—and Quantum theory—certain things are truly random (video source).
A scene in No Country for Old Men with a coin toss, a gas station clerk and a killer named Chigurh illustrates the paradox between random chance and a universe built on cause and effect.
“Chigurh took a twenty-five cent piece from his pocket and flipped it spinning into the bluish glare of the fluorescent lights over head… Call it. Call it? Yes. For what? Just call it….I didn’t put nothin’ up. Yes you did. You’ve been putting it up your whole life. You just didn’t know it” (p. 56).
That’s what this is about.
The coin toss could symbolize fate—there’s a deeper meaning—or it could symbolize chance—there is no meaning. We think we have free will but isn’t every event the result of previous events and circumstances together with the laws of nature?
Reality could be nothing but chance and circumstance or it could be following a path determined by previous events. The occurrence of things depends upon choices and actions but choices and actions could be determined just like everything else.
Right here and now is what this is about. Relationships, responsibilities, stresses, distractions, habits and such like are fantastic—they make us who we are—but a first person perspective like you’d find in a novel or a movie separates us into a head-game that removes us from a happy feeling where there are no divisions.
But with a click you can shift perspective from your self as the centre experiencing here, to here as the centre experiencing you.
You can see your story and yourself in it. You are the writer, actor and director. You are like a disembodied voice looking and seeing all that is there to be seen and seen in. And with this awareness comes a wonderful feeling of oneness—“Hapa he-eia”!
(See also “Step Into Enjoyment (take one)“.)
The heart is made of heart cells. Heart cells on their own don’t have the property of pumping blood. Heart pumping is an emergent property of the whole heart. So too with consciousness.
It’s the sum of neurons that generates complex emotions. No single neuron holds complex information like self-awareness. It’s the sum of everything that makes the world. Like the keynote speaker in Fargo (season 2) said, “Try it. Try simply being.”
The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. You are the world aware. Now is experiencing you. Claiming that an individual heart cell can pump blood because the heart can or that a single neuron in the nervous system generates self-awareness is a fallacy of division.
As scholar Beth Dempster said, “process is interactive: “causes” generate behaviours, behaviours generate “causes”” (Smith 1993, p. 21) (source). Everything looks like it’s outside your body but things interconnect like a fourth dimension of space-time.
If everyone is a story, you are a story but what happens when you see your story as a story? What happens when you interrupt the narration?
When you see everything as interconnected and experience the world with your senses without story-telling and ambition you can feel the ultimate enjoyment of oneness and simply enjoy “being.” That’s when you see humour and feel happy as a lark without fear.
You can tell by a person’s conduct whether or not that person has shifted perspective but it really comes down to feeling love for everything. That’s when you know your perspective has shifted. When you love everything, that’s when you say, “Wow! This really is quite awesome, thank you.”
That’s what this is about.