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 are 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 am not talking about world politics, science or religion. I am talking about the everyday thoughts and realizations people have in the privacy of their reflections, on which they rarely act, thereby getting sucked deeper and deeper in what they call ‘life’ and ‘maturity.’ The ways by which life gets away from them, beat by missed beat. Forty, fifty, sixty, ninety years down the line — can you even imagine that? Ninety years old! — they look back on their lives and realize they are very different individuals to what they aimed to be.
While half of their failure to live up to their dreams is due to reasons beyond their control, half of it isn’t. Half of it is due to insights they had, on which they 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 and action put together to create something unique, befitting an individual.
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, those 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 were finished with what we were doing, we’ve lost the thread and the entire location.
And so on and so (not) forth. Round and round the same territory, we let habit eat us alive.
Watch this space for Part 2
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 tales of awesome anticipation not followed through.