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The Tinkered Mind
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November 5th, 2020
All sorts of things hang over our head. Something embarrassing that happened yesterday. The impending meeting in a couple hours. The dream project that hasn’t started but just continues to balloon and swell like a quaint depressing rain cloud grown into an angry and towering thunderhead. The imagined world is so palpable that often times it becomes an opaque blinder to the real one.
Watch where you’re going!
Someone yells as we snap out of a daydream, seeing the red light.
When the imagined world and the real world seem to be in sync is when we feel best. Often this is when things are going according to plan, but not necessarily. When things go according to plan is just the most recognizable form. For example, the past can’t unroll in the same way the future does in accordance to our expectations. So how does something like the remembered past fit into this instance when the real world and the imagined world seem to be in sync?
There are two aspects to this. One is the reality we have given the past that has occurred. The second is the way we imagine that past. What happened yesterday and the day before is certainly the crucial antecedent to now, but many aspects of the past were invisible as they occurred and more importantly the past exists only as we remember it. Memory is flawed as it is formed and flawed further as memory is accessed. This downfall is also the tool to aligning imagined and real worlds. But it requires separation. One person can curse their past for the present they have while another can understand that past in order to make sure that present doesn’t persist or get worse. The difference is the relationship each has to the past - to the imagined world.
The same applies going forward. One person who has their heart set on a future outcome is crushed when things turn out differently, whereas another person who gingerly holds possible futures at the same distance as the past isn’t crushed when events develop unexpectedly.
Regret and disappointment are a function of our relationship to imagined worlds more than they are a fact of reality.
By recognizing that a relationship can be squeezed between a person and the imagined worlds of the past and the future, and even the present further allows for that relationship to change. Reality is constantly giving a stream of honest feedback about how good or unhealthy that relationship is, and the rule of thumb here is that dissonance is painful. If the future is something to dread, does that say more about reality and the future that will take place, or does it say more about the person, and the relationship they have with an imagined future?
Incredibly, the same applies to the past, even though the past seems to be this solid, immutable entity. What has actually happened to result in the current situation certainly can’t change, but our relationship to it can. Again: does it say more about someone’s past or the way that past is seen if it’s regarded as terrible?
Both the futures we think might happen and the past we think happened are reflections of the way we react to the world. The way these imagined worlds impose upon us either enables or disables our ability to react effectively in the present. And with a little sense of separation - an ability to recognize a relationship to these imagined worlds - and a willingness to try and augment those relationships, the present can slowly, even suddenly begin to look full of opportunity and hidden leverage.