Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Empirical State of Mind

Empiricism is both a blessing and a curse. If combined with obstinacy, then it really starts becoming troublesome. I train myself to go into fresh situations with a tabula rasa mindset. I don’t think there is much out there that I wouldn’t try at least once. Experience and contemplation are both teaching me that the things that we shun, we shun out of fear. When I find myself constricting or violently resisting something, it's usually out of fear and I examine why I’m afraid. I think it all boils down to a few things – unpleasant or uncomfortable situations, i.e. pain, both emotional and physical), loss of (perceived) control, and permanent obliteration, i.e. death.

Over the last couple years, I have learned to like fear. Not in a I-have-to-because-I-have-no-other-choice kind of way. I have made friends with it because I appreciate how much it has done for me. I learned how much wisdom, growth, and maturity is reaped from acknowledging its existence and examining where it stems from. I uncertain if I have written this in this blog before, but one of my favorite definitions of enlightenment is by Carl Jung. Jung’s view is that enlightenment isn’t a result of imagining visions of light, but in making the unconscious conscious. Unconsciousness loses its power when made conscious.

I remember flying from LAX on a tiny plane back to Reno on Christmas Day. There was awful turbulence 80% of the time we were up in the air. As the plane rocked and shook, I felt fear overcome me quickly. And when I felt that happening in my body, I asked myself, “What am I bloody afraid of?” My answer was death. Then I dug deeper. What about death am I afraid of? Have I not done everything I needed to do up to that point? Have I not done everything I could to live a fullest possible life? Have I withheld love from anyone in my life? Have I left anything unsaid to anyone?

At that moment, I realized that I could go right there and then. I have done my homework and didn’t have unfinished business with anyone. I was ready.

Then I started to relax and anxiety left my body.

You live the way you die, says one of my teachers. A powerful practice, especially in bouts of indecision is to ask yourself, “If I die today, would I still do this?” It’s pretty amazing how you taste and savor things differently in life after you answer such a simple question. Suddenly, you are forced to be honest about what is REALLY important in your life. It's a great perspective check.

I have gone on the deep end of the pool recently. A friend challenged the empirical nature I am protective of about exploring the local dating scene. What do you retort to something like that? I knew she was right so I caved. Shudder. It’s the day after Valentine’s and I’m going out on a blind date. I wouldn’t go into the gory details, but I am nervous and giddy, but also excited. In theory, it seems like this guy’s a good match, but I will suspend judgment for now. Empiricism teaches us that you never really know anything until you’re actually in the situation itself, and even then, your knowledge remains relative and limited. We are going to have dinner, some wine, and I have a feeling, long, gripping, intelligent conversations.


P.S. I have not written in a long time. For days, I was having a fistfight with an overblown ego that I was trying to humble and tame. Ego drains the inspiration out of me. To see myself writing again exhilarates me.

1 comment:

  1. Jeez! What a post! You got me thinking...thanks for the inspiration.