I’ve been listening to a book lately by Deepak Chopra called Synchrodestiny and it’s an amazing book about manifesting change and creating abundance in your life using intention and synchronicity. Since he’s a scientist, the book is heavy on quantum theory and mind-bending things like particles that can exist in two places at one time… but I love that he does this with full reverence and honoring of the magic and mystery too.
He also explains a theory about how things don’t actually exist for us that we don’t have language for, that we don’t have a concept around. They are literally invisible to us/our brains because we don’t have the software to process them.
Like that story of the South Indian island that had always been isolated, and how when explorers arrived on big ships and the islanders asked “How did you arrive here?” the Europeans said, “The ships,” pointing to the ocean. But since the islanders had no concept of “ship” they literally couldn’t see them in the water.
I had a flicker of understanding this recently when walking in downtown Berkeley the other night. My date and I peered into the window of a cafe and watched the people inside for several moments. “It’s a board game cafe,” he said, and it took me several beats more to actually see that what I was looking at was not people sitting across from each other with mugs of tea and chatting, but a full cafe of wall-to-wall people playing Parcheesi, Sorry, and The Settlers of Catan.
I saw what I expected to see, not what was right in front of me. Only when my friend said, “board game cafe” did it all come into focus. And there has to be a reason why I’m telling you this, why this story won’t leave me alone.
Maybe this is the point: We see what we expect to see, not what is right in front of us.
And maybe this is wisdom for me right now or wisdom for you. That we can choose other ways of seeing, that we can be open to other realms and other ways of knowing. We can create new possibilities and experiences if we can let go of the rigid ways and habits we have cultivated.
What was that quote by Anais Nin? “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”
As I navigate the world of dating these days, I am having to manage my energy and mind in big ways. It’s easy to get lost in fantasy… to see things as I want to see them and not as they are. It’s easy to get lost in negative fantasy too – to make the person wrong or bad, to cast them away as flawed so as to not be in that vulnerable middle place where we just don’t have enough information or lived experience yet.
I watch myself vacillate between these two extremes… and the up and down can be uncomfortable, even crushing at times. I shared this with my friend Carvell recently, telling him how excited I was about a new person I was seeing. “I’m afraid to be too excited though,” I told him, “because I get excited about people and then I get disappointed and I plummet… I want to let myself have the excitement, but I also don’t want to keep skidding on the rocks.”
He responded in the wisest possible way: “Here’s the thing. Right now, all you know is that you’re excited about this person. And… you don’t have a lot of information. Anything else you add is fantasy – positive or negative.” This has become my own little personal incantation: I’m excited about this person and I don’t have a lot of information… I chant this to myself when I see myself go to extremes. It keeps me grounded in what’s true. It helps me see things as they are.
Andrea, I know this is not a political post, but it strikes me as a great reminder for us in the midst of this political turmoil that we need to work on seeing what IS, not what we WANT to be. I’m working hard to open my mind to other points of view. That said, what a great idea a board game cafe is to bring people to gather! Non-partisan AND fun! Enjoy the excitement of dating, in spite of the potential plummeting. I hope excitement wins out!
Hi Andrea! I am a love and dating coach and I hear the “don’t want to get too excited” comment a lot recently. What I say is that muffling our excitement does not make future disappointment less stinky. And instead it denies our spirit JOY now! Be & receive excitement and stay open to the next moment of discovery. You manifested a fun human and this person may or may not be someone you grow into something with but it is bringing pleasure now! Yay!
I mean I have heard!
Hi there Andrea! Been a long time since I reached out. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing these nuggets of wisdom. I, too am in the same dating place and it IS exciting and nerve-wracking, and terrifying sometimes!
I just wanted to say I appreciate your candor and bravery, as I have since I started following you in 2001. Keep on keeping on girlfriend, you are LUMINOUS and what you bring to this world IS NEEDED!
First of all, bravo, for sharing your vulnerability in this ever so scary dating world.
I believe what Deepak refers to might be also known as confirmation bias, where we tend to see/interpret/search according to our belief system.
I love your example of the board game cafe.
I have nothing else to add here but agree with Macy above about being attentive not to deny yourself of joy by ‘managing’ your experience and with Jennifer that you are indeed luminous.
Keep on swimming!
I loved your story because it happens to me, I see what i expect. Sometimes then it slowly focuses and I see what is there. I’m so glad someone else sees like me. Thanks for sharing.
Yay! This post has been sitting in my inbox for weeks – and i have been soooooo freakin’ busy – and I wanted to read this so I kept it in my inbox. I really enjoyed this post. I listened to Synchrodestiny as well – so glad to have this reminder as I embark on a new path, too.
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