The vastness of what’s available in being human
Two mirrors facing each other create a fun-house hall that ricochets an image back and forth until it vanishes into an infinite regress. If we placed a chameleon in that hall, it would try to disappear in a universe of itself—endlessly cycling through a number of its disguises. The very act of accommodating itself to its own reflection would disturb it anew.*
Early in life, in certain situations, we might feel judged or compare ourselves to others and think we come up short in some way, etc., and feel that “something’s wrong.” In those moments, we decide that we don’t have what it takes to “win” in life. To compensate, we figure out a way of being (a “strong suit” or “strategy for winning” so to speak) to address whatever we think of as missing. Those early decisions become far-reaching declarations that set the stage for our world view, essentially our whole future. We then set out to hone those ways of being. Once honed, they become fixed, a permanent part of our identity (who we consider ourselves to be). When we meet similar situations, no matter how many years later, those strategies get triggered and the infinite regress kicks in.
Should we happen to get a glimpse at how those early decisions constrain us and try to tweak them somehow, we do so only within our “fixed” ways of being (old interpretations still determining our future)—it’s where we get stuck and what immunizes us against the vastness of what’s possible in being human. In recognizing that whatever interpretations we made “way back when” were in fact a choice, we begin to see ourselves as authors of those interpretations, and we come into the immense freedom of a whole new domain—the domain of possibility, brought into being by our saying.
*Adapted from Kevin Kelly, Out of Control (Basic Books, 1995)
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