There’s a reason why breakdowns are common while breakthroughs are few and far between.
It stems from our automatic preference for the consensually approved. We’re fond of things we understand. We enjoy familiarity even though we pretend not to, and we adapt everything according to scripts we’re comfortable with.
Even revolution, our supreme way of expressing our disapproval of something, whatever it may be, falls within scripted procedures. Rarely do we apply a real breakthrough, an embrace of the finer elements of cognition that leads to lasting, groundbreaking change.
I’m not talking about world politics, science or religion. I’m referring to the everyday thoughts and realizations we have in the privacy of our reflections, on which we seldom act, getting sucked deeper in what we call ‘life’ and ‘maturity.’ The way life gets away from us, beat by missed beat. Forty, fifty, sixty, ninety years down the line, we look back on our lives and realize we’re not the individuals we aimed to be.
While half of it is due to reasons beyond our control, half of it isn’t. Half of it is due to insights we had, on which we never acted.
See, in a society that prides individual freedom, the buck stops with the individual. Period.
At least, it should. Individuality begets individual agency, initiative, accountability.
Or have we collectively forgotten, blaming everything on society’s ‘beaver?’
In times like these, I like to think that honesty is the best way forward.
To help myself stay focused, I make sure to note things down without censoring them. Write down my thoughts and breakthroughs, those crazy insights when the answers come pouring in, the epiphanies I have every now and then, I note them down to make sure I don’t forget them.
See, it’s not a matter of not finding a way through life’s obstacles. Sometimes we see the way all too clearly but forget to pin it on the map.
By the time we’re finished with what we’re doing, we’ve lost the thread and the entire location.
And so on and so (not) forth. Round and round the same territory, our habits consume us.
Part 2 to follow …
PS – It’s not just with individuals. We do this on a general level, too, as cultures and civilizations. Take a look at today’s Observatory, for example, see how a 104-year-old newspaper clipping tells a tale of awesome anticipation that was not followed through.