Tuesday, October 15, 2019


I've always been drawn to ultimate causes. Growing up I was often stuck working on a puzzle of one sort or another. I soon lost interest in replacing cut-out shapes in a picture, because once I saw the process in its totality I couldn't see the point.

I'm the kid who smashed open watches to figure out how they worked, and who mixed random bottles of stuff in the medicine cabinet for science experiments. I asked why? and how come? and why not? and I wonder if? about almost everything.

I'm also the kid who was picked on for being different, for farting in class (I was cleverly nicknamed "Fart King." We were not amused.), and mostly for never knowing when to shut up ("teacher, didn't you mean to assign us homework?" yeah, I was that kid too). So I started learning how to read people, to understand the puzzle of their perspectives: why did they bully me? how come when I complied they didn't stop? why did they not leave me alone? and I wonder if I can outsmart them?

The ultimate cause was not my flatulence, nor my helpful reminders to the teacher. I took a long time trying to figure out exactly what happened. I didn't know how to solve the puzzle of being enough for them. But I kept watching and learning the pieces of the puzzle.

What I've come to learn is the power of shifting perspective for sparking growth, the pain of releasing the position of pride and power of having an unchallenged perspective (it feels like dying--in part because it is using our own brains to simulate someone else's), and I learned the blindness of having a perspective that is never challenged (as is the case for the people at the top of societal hierarchies of power in our culture just now).

I was trying to articulate this idea to my friend and he said I should package it and make a million dollars. The name I came up with: How to Get Better at Feeling Bad Faster! He said it wouldn't sell because that sounds like hard work and a bummer. "Yeah," I countered, "but hard work is the only way forward."

I already confessed to being bad at marketing, but I'm really good at puzzles--and ultimate causes. The only way I see to solve the puzzle of our fucked up world is to grow, and the only way I know to grow is to get better at switching perspectives. And that shit hurts--at least at first. But with patience and practice, it can become natural to move through the little deaths of being wrong and come to see the world through different eyes.

               the only way out is through
                         death's dark valley
                                                                 at last
                                                       and known
                                   in the unknowing

     "a seed must die and fall to the ground before it can amount to anything" ~Yeshua

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