Here I am. Ready. I’m selecting my own ride from a spectacular array of options, some of which start on a high ...well high, anyway with the corresponding drop that tends to follow. I go for one that eases me in a little more gently, and it’s undeniably fun, thrilling even … What it is to be alive! The trouble is, it’s not all that long before I forget that it’s a ride and instead I’m consumed by the ride in such a way that every rise, fall, twist and turn become ‘it’, and in turn, these are my reasons to feel happy, miserable, petrified, elated or any other ride-induced emotion. Looking across at others on their ride, it’s much the same story; they’ve forgotten too. Happiness is short-lived and the hands covering the eyes, the attempts to cling on and slow it all down, or to speed up past the ‘high drama’ parts are indicative of having forgotten that it’s a ride, in fact not just forgotten, but having arrived at a belief that this is it, all there is. Is it?
Of course life is rather more textured than a roller coaster ride, and the analogy cannot convey the interwoven connections with others in our passage through life; it’s at best a crude outline, and anyway, what do I know for sure? I can’t prove anything and don’t intend to try, but more recently I have become aware … of being aware! I know that I’m experiencing, whereas previously I only used to experience, and the experience was the driver for my take on my life at any given time - good, bad, dull, exciting, painful, loving, frightening and on and on, all dependent on the peaks and troughs of life, including my moods. But if I am aware of being aware, then who is this ‘I’? And does this alter the effects of the peaks and troughs? Well, yes … and also no, and this is where it starts to run into slightly uncomfortable paradox. This discomfort is most probably a result of my linear, rational processing system, in other words, my mind. Is the paradox perhaps an invitation to witness something bigger than that which can be understood by thinking? At this point I’m grateful to quantum physics for coming as close as is possible within our parameters of measuring and evaluation to demonstrating precisely this - paradox! Can a wave also be a particle? Seemingly, it can. So, back to the paradoxical ‘yes - no’ answer. It seems that this ‘I’ is having a human experience, and the experience is often highly distracting such that I still get lost in the rise, fall, twist, or turn of any given moment or moments, but I can witness all that, too! I can observe myself in the ebb and flow of life, emotions and all, and when I lose myself in it, I get to observe myself stepping back to see it once I’ve noticed that I’ve fallen prey to the allure of the detail. My mind, of course is somewhat ‘boggled’ by this, but although I’m fascinated by the human mind (what even is it??), I’m pretty certain that it has its limitations, and I’ve decided to become more aware of that, too.
So is all of this of any practical use? Perhaps it is. For a start, if life is a ‘ride’, a golden opportunity to experience, then it’s perhaps not all there is, and if it isn’t the big everything, then does that not confer a little more ease in our relationship to it? This notion, of course, relies on a belief that makes way for it, and, of course, that belief may be absent, partial or emerging which in turn impacts on our sense of what life is. But I’ve found there’s one little shift that can be applied whenever appropriate, with little conflict and no negative repercussions, and that’s what I can do, or rather think, when a ‘problem’ arises. Our understanding of the word ‘problem’ typically conveys burden and ‘dead-end’ sentiment, especially if a solution isn’t forthcoming or is completely unavailable, but maybe switch ‘problem’ for experience, ie ‘I’m having an experience’, rather than ‘I’ve got a problem’, and something tends to change. This word is far more likely to invoke potential, expansiveness and maybe even curiosity for what might be: who hasn’t at some time endured a thoroughly unwanted event - redundancy, illness, relationship break-up etc, only to find out further down the line that this made way for something altogether unexpected and possibly even much appreciated? The word ‘experience’ can change the way we feel about whatever’s happening, so I try to have fewer ‘problems’ now, and instead relax a little more into the ebb and flow of experiences, and remember more often to enjoy the ride.