When I was a kid, barely scraping over my Mom’s knee, and the usual place I would be found sticking to, various experts and seers of life and the Future whom Mom regularly consulted would proclaim me to be of feeble mind. If they expanded on it, they would say that I did not have a mind of my own, and would always be acting according to other people’s will.
My Mom devoted a lot of time trying to stave off a malady that had no cure, by devising methods to work around it. “Remember, Mother knows best; so you will do the right thing if you always do what I want you to do… and you will then be all right.”
Only, as I crept amongst rose-shrubs or skinned my shins on prickly branches, and peered into other people’s lives… I discovered that I did form opinions. Since I did not have a mind, I decided that opinions existed elsewhere, dangling… ummm… probably a bit like cobwebs. Whatever. I was very careful, however, to do what Mom wanted me to do, and be very richly rewarded for it. Life was perfect.
Then being slipped into doing. And I discovered I could pretend to be the one that does what Mom wanted…
And from there, things went straight down-hill.
There grew that weedy thingy of my wanting different things. That weed was dangerous, and plucked out with much determination (and fireworks!) but it always grew back. Then it became they… And then, they coalesced into one as formidable as an oak. I was certainly very different a person than… umm, anybody! Well, so were everybody different from each other, but at least, most of them were clubbed under Knowing The Right Thing! So what was happening here?
Over the next few, lots, of years, I created a secret laboratory to carry out experiments on What Exactly Is Happening Here… henceforth known as WEIHH. Since the laboratory was in my mind, the very existence of which was questionable, I was completely safe from discovery and exposure. Anyway, I ran the risk of proving myself a complete fraud, by working with something I did not have, so I did not want to complicate my implication by, God forbid, asking other people! So at WEIHH, I read, studied, learnt… nearly everything I could find that would somehow make me better. I think I hoped to find a cure for my malady of no-mind.
I discovered that it was easy to learn how to manipulate anybody, by pretending to completely agree with their world-view. I also discovered that by doing exactly the same thing, I could also come to know of world-views that exist, whether I needed to subscribe to them or not. In fact, in just coming to know of so many world-views I discovered a release from needing to belong to any one. Which led to my discovering that I did not need to manipulate anybody to get my way. I only needed to find my own way.
I discovered that, eventually, all I needed to do everyday, at every moment, in all situations and under all contexts… was find my own way.
It could be a well-trodden or sparse path, or not. It could have others mapped it out for you, or not. It could be something that you beat out from the underbrush, or not. It could make sense, or be acknowledged or feted or followed or celebrated or exorcised or punished… or not. All I needed to do was to be… be pleased, be satisfied, be contented with myself.
Not having a mind of one’s own? Well…
So, recently, here I was, invited to the screening of a film made by a dear friend and his team of brilliant, warm-hearted creators. And here I was, at the end of the screening, the only one to have formed a particularly harsh opinion of the premise of the story narrated by the film.
For a few moments after I acknowledged to myself what I felt and thought, I waited and watched everybody else… mainly to give myself the time to absorb the fright and the guilt of being wrong… in not having the same opinion as most others, or perhaps, as my mother. I waited to allow the panic to subside… of endangering my life, of being less than others, of being singled out for destruction. I waited and allowed.
And it was all right.
It is all right. To be me. To be you. It could be the same thing or different things. It is still all right. Is there anything not all right? If you feel, think so… and that is also all right.
Have your opinion. Let it be challenged. Change your mind, if you want to. Don’t, if you don’t. Listen to others. Be impressed. Be not. Walk away. Stay… It is all alright.
I say so!
And, umm… as for the problem of no mind of one’s own? Boy, did I ever stand it on its head! Now that, is stuff for another post, altogether!