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May 4th, 2020
For a moment, think about what this sort of request entails: change my mind. Imagine if we changed the request with a simple substitution that is often mentioned in conjunction with the mind. Imagine if we were as casual with saying change my body. The invasive and deeply profound implication of a phrase like change my mind suddenly starts to resonate in a way that doesn’t normally come across when we use this common phrase.
Change my mind asks someone else to do something at once magical and devastating. To have a changed mind is to become a changed person. This sort of transformation doesn’t even extend to alterations of the body, whether we speak of whimsical tattoos or a missing toe or some hair that has fallen out, these changes don’t really change who we are. But a changed mind? The way we think is everything, and if the way we think becomes altered, does it not mean that our whole life is now different? That it’s not impossible to look at the world and reality in the way we did before?
To change a mind, whether it be one’s own or someone else’s is not just profound in its reverberations, it’s quite difficult.
Changing the body isn’t terribly difficult. We have much of the medical industry devoted to this practice, whether for health or aesthetics, and then of course there are tattoo artists, and pretty much everyone right down to the physical trainer and the absent minded woodworker - has quite a bit of ability when it comes to altering the body. But the mind?
Nothing is more intimate than to have one’s mind changed. Which perhaps lends some understanding to our rampant stubbornness, our squabbling, yelling, squawking, bickering, name-calling and biting speech. On the one hand we resist having our own mind changed, and on the other we attack the obstinate walls in other people’s minds with as much vitriol as might exist in the crown of a nuclear missile. The revelation on the one hand reveals the flaw on the other. No amount of caustic treatment is going to dissolve the walls of the stubborn. The tactic needs to be inverted.
The way to change someone’s mind is to first be welcomed into that mind. The process of being welcomed into another’s mind is the same as discovering it.
See, we make the mistake of thinking someone’s mind is located in their head, behind their eyes. The mistake is that we can somehow talk at it, in the direction to which it seems. But this is a mistake, the head of a person is just the portal to their mind. The location of the mind cannot be pinned down, it’s quality can only be revealed. The only way for this to happen is to listen. It’s the first step to changing someone’s mind, because it’s the only way to touch that elusive quality in each person. It remains nowhere until it begins to make itself known to us in our own mind by what we hear, and what we see.
The second step is to want more, to ask questions, and by doing so we coax more of that person’s mind into our own as we build a working model of the structure we uncover. We begin to build a map of a place we cannot visit, but to which only our words might echo and reverberate through. And if such words and ideas are welcomed then they gain that precious opportunity to fuse and further mold that elusive place that somehow exists within each and every one of us.
To seek it out from another, perhaps when we want to learn, is to see some possible improvement that can be made to our mind and by extension to the physical shape of our brain. The change might be tiny, some little stimulating weight change on a few neurons, perhaps some dendritic strengthening, but nonetheless a meaningful change.
How welcoming would you be to a stranger who wants to rearrange the furniture in your house? Is it any surprise that the wild protestations of our culture mostly land on deaf ears?
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