• Alastar Connor

A fluid mindset


Pretty much all of my pieces could begin with, “I was listening to NPR…” Is that how I meditate? I sit and listen and see what comes up from their conversations?


Today, an author was talking about plurality. How we can identify with many different points of view or sides of an argument. How we are not black and white. Not as polarized as politics tries to force us to be.


This makes me think of my mind. Someone said once, that our view of how the world is, explains so much about us. She asked us to explain our view. The word I chose for how I see the world?


Fluid.


I’ve always been drawn to the ocean. I identify with the way the waves push us around in so many directions. There is an ebb and flow to it that feels predictable, but then a rogue wave catches us, unexpected. There’s a beauty to the ocean’s unpredictable nature. Excitement and adventure in not knowing. Amazement in a limitless highway that can take you to other countries to experience new cultures, to limitless fun and physical challenges, to hidden ecosystems, or to death. The beauty of it all is overwhelming. The light shifting on the water, reflecting on the clouds, sometimes blurring the horizon or disappearing into the fog. A true metaphor for life as I see it.


Humans themselves have an element of this fluidity. Our bodies consist of over half water, after all. People shift shapes in the very moment you are observing them. When I watch my children, I am surprised every minute of the twists and turns of who they “are.” As much as people try, we don’t fit into roles or boxes. As an actress, I can pretend that we do. I can stereotype a character but then the performance feels flat. It’s the surprises, free will, the infinite possibilities of what someone will do next, that make life real. The curveballs that the universe can throw at us at any moment, that make life as it actually exists. We can only look at the moment in front of us and do our best to choose. Every moment we have infinite choices.


As a creative, imaginative person, everything is made of possibilities, and I see more of them than most people do. All the time. There are positives and negatives to this. I come to a business, home, life, and see what others cannot. I switch everything around in my head into all different versions, configurations, following the threads out to see where they lead...trying on many models until I find a combination that fits them, their preferences, strengths, parameters, and limitations. I look at my own life this way. Flipping, transforming, trying on all the options...nothing just is. No givens. I wonder if that gives my daughter anxiety. When I paint the world as a place that has no givens.


This also means that the world has no structure to me. There are boundaries that possibilities must exist within...but many times those boundaries are also up for debate. I test them out in my mind to see if they are indeed there or only exist in the mind. I gently push back against those limitations to see if they can bend or shift, or if I can manipulate them away. For myself and for others. Everything can be changed.


When I hear people with strong opinions, it used to turn me off to them. Now, after living more of my life, I feel sad for them instead. Living with rigid ideas and opinions limits a person to so much of existence. If they could see the world as I do, with infinite shades of every color, no wrongs, no rights, shadows of varying degrees, pros and cons to every choice, unlimited options to everything...they would feel like they were floating along on a sea of humanity.


My only strong opinion, that life is fluid.


The good part about this is that we can reinvent. I have morphed many times in my lifetime so far. I see struggle as an opportunity to leap out of our current predicament by many choices, leading us onto another path of possibility. I hear so many people who have been raised to think they are stuck. Stuck where they are, stuck being who they think they are, stuck in their current version of life, forever. That mindset makes it very hard to see the possibilities that are right in front of us.


The bad part of living in a liquid world, is the lack of clear direction. As much as I see clarity for others, I myself get overwhelmed by the possibilities. Most days, I just want someone to tell me what to do. And yet, when they do, their suggestion doesn’t feel quite right. Like they aren’t seeing all the shades of me. Like the wave they are pushing me into was the wrong wave in the set.


I surge forward, thinking I have found it, my ride to the shore, the way to solid ground beneath my feet, only to see the power melt into nothing beneath me. Sometimes, when I am on a particularly high peak on the crest of the white water, someone leans over and shoves me, causing me to lose my balance, tumbling into the “washing machine,” as we like to call it in my house, that moment when everything flips upside down and you get completely disoriented, and all I can do is try to keep calm until I can catch a breath. As others pass me, riding their own waves, I try them all on. What would that be like? And that? I could ride along on that wave. Maybe I could catch the curved current and go back out to start again. Maybe I just hang here and wait, try to trust that something will come along to guide me.


Every moment is a choice and that makes the days long. Sometimes, I retreat from any action. Hiding in volunteer opportunities, in my writing, like at this very moment, contemplating how to progress, when the sands shift beneath me, because I live in a universe that lacks rigidity. Even this piece has been completely rearranged, as I imagine what it should be, could be.


I admire people like my daughter, with her decisive nature. A clear path is always there for her, instantly. Only recently has she begun to look back to question her choices. I am here to guide her in that...sure, it has merit to check on your choices to prevent whatever future mistakes you can, but it is also pointless. What is done is done. The only path is forward. Your next choice is the most important. And yet, it isn’t...as there is another right in front of that one.


I suppose the only helpful insight I can offer, from my view of the world, is that there are endless possibilities. If you can’t see them, I will paint the pictures for you, of all the ways you could move forward, the versions of your life that exist in my mind, as the individual drops run downhill, carving paths into the sandstone that you thought was solid only a moment ago.


I can also offer that I hope you remember to think of others this way. They are no more solid than that ground beneath you was, before it was sucked out from under your toes by the tide as it shifted to the other side of the world. Some people change quickly, others take an entire lifetime. We can’t wait around. But we can keep in mind, that the reality they cling to, exists only in their mind. Yes, for them it is real, and we have to deal with that, but we don’t have to live by their rules.


I suppose my one other piece of wisdom, from over here as I tread water, is that time is also fluid. As much as we think that everything has to happen now, right away, that too is a farce. We have all the time and no time. We can only try to make use of the current moment to the best of our ability. We can plan, deliberate on what to do, sketch it all out ahead of time, but take comfort in knowing that if we look at right now, we can stretch that moment to be all the time in the world. Just like pouring a finite amount of liquid into different shape containers, we are bound only by how we choose to see things, including time itself. One good moment can be stretched to be bigger than hours of hard ones. If we pause in the infinite struggle, we can glean pleasure from the light as it hits a microscopic prism and splits into a fleeting rainbow.


“The ordinary man considers solids and liquids and the energy manifestations of the material world to be vastly different, but the yogi sees them as various vibrations of the one cosmic light.” - Author: Paramahansa Yogananda

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