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.