Fresh Eyes for Your Mind

by Jeffersen Sylvia 

“The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” (Bertrand Russell)

I had a great conversation the other day that generated a whole tangential discussion on knowledge, perception, and opinion, that I’d like to share with you. I am a firm believer that all knowledge is a dangerous growing process. Dangerous, because once a truth is learned, and becomes a personal axiom, if it is not taken out and dusted off occasionally, and tested against who, what, where, when, and how YOU are today, you just might find that the truth as you knew it is no longer valid.

All knowledge begins in steps: Instinct, Observation, Experience, Knowledge, Perspective.

“Those who forget good and evil and seek only to know the facts are more likely to achieve good than those who view the world through the distorting medium of their own desires.”(Bertrand Russell)

Knowledge-Reid-HighsmithWhen anything happens around us, we have an instinctual reaction to that instance good/bad, fight/flight, etc. [Instincts can be tempered, trained, or altered, but it takes a LOT to do it]. We can see someone from across a room, and there is an “instinct” there, attraction, repulsion, curiosity, anger, a whole host of possibilities. However, when we run into someone/something that says, “Danger” we usually listen. If the hairs on the back of our neck stand up, we usually listen, and we should… It’s an instinct that goes back a LONG way in our genetic code.

From there we observe people and situations from the outside, and try to place that shape into the corresponding keyhole. If it’s an easy choice, we’ll usually move on fairly quickly, problem solved. We now think we know what’s going on around us, and DAMN! We didn’t even have to think about that one. Then we run into those that don’t neatly fit into the current observation base. Uh Oh! **Danger Will Robinson! Danger!**

Well! Now we actually have the choice to leave this one as an unknown, or dig a bit deeper and go for the experience of it. Sometimes this is because everything up to now is not throwing off any alarms, seems safe, and you’ve seen it a dozen times, just never “done” it. Hell, every three year old riding a tricycle looks at a two-wheeler as something familiar yet unknown.

So… Now we throw a toe in the water, because we have to see whether the experience is worth digging deeper still. OK.  Seems fine, we have a little bit of experience under our belts. Was it warm, cold, pleasant, unpleasant, this is the point where we can either say to ourselves, I NEED to know about this, or I can easily live without knowing this.

If we NEED to know… Damn! The Human mind is a needful thing, by nature. it wants to learn, and fill, and experience, and record. So now we have to dive in, and figure it all out. This is where the fun starts! The more life experience, and the more knowledge we acquire, and aspire to, the more difficult it is to not let any new knowledge or experiences be colored by our past. Think of how difficult it is to not let your past get in the way. If you had a bad experience in an elevator, you probably get nervous today. This goes with every aspect of every new experience we encounter, ESPECIALLY people.

Every new bit of knowledge that we ingest, on whatever subject needs to be tempered with the perception of who we are, why we are, and what we are trying to gain knowledge of. More importantly, we need to realize that when we apply our experiences and current knowledge to something new, we may end up changing it to suit what we already “know,” and not looking at it from the perspective of this is “new” and I need to see whether it fits into where I think it fits, or elsewhere… If we give the process a ghost of a chance, we usually see new and exciting things everyday that can enrich our lives, and we can gain good and fair ideas that will suit where we are today.

You’re alive. Do something. The directive in life, the moral imperative is so uncomplicated. It could be expressed in single words, not complete sentences. It sounds like this: Look. Listen. Choose. Act. Learn.” (Barbara Hall)

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