Homer Simpson, Charlton Heston, and the Gateway to Insight (#907)

One of the benefits of gaining a deeper understanding into the nature of the human experience is that we become more insightful. Life starts to seem more intuitive and at times even obvious, and things that appeared dark and mysterious open themselves up in the light of our new insights.

To me, it’s always seemed that these insights occur in two distinct styles – with the smack on the forehead obviousness of a Homer Simpson “d’oh!” moment, or the parting of the Red Sea awe of Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments.

By way of example, my latest “d’oh” moment came this week while listening to sports talk radio in the run up to the Superbowl. I heard a former player share a story about the longtime coach of the Buffalo Bills, Marv Levy.  Apparently, on his very first day with the team, he told them:

“Expect adversity, and expect more that you will conquer adversity.”

For some reason, this was an epiphany for me.  Not the second part about “expecting that you will conquer adversity” – I learned that in Positive Thinking 101.  But the “Expect adversity” part – not sure how I missed that one growing up.  I’d somehow managed to chalk up all 28,163 adversities I’ve faced thus far in my life as “anomalies”,  whereas the norm was clearly the 17 minutes of each day where everything goes exactly the way I’ve planned it.

On the “Charlton Heston” front, my most recent insight still exists more in feeling than in words.  My work with clients seems to have deepened over the past month or so, and all I can point to is a profound feeling of spaciousness and peace that shows up whenever I sit down to talk with another human being about the nature of life.

What I find most interesting is that in both cases, the gateway to the insights was the same – not having too much on my mind.

  • The less I have on my mind, the easier it is to see what’s really going on outside of my head with greater clarity.  This clarity makes the “elusive obvious” less elusive and more, well, obvious, leading to the “d’oh” moments that happen so frequently in the inside-out understanding that a friend once described it as “flat head therapy”.
  • The less I have on my mind, the easier it is to hear the still small voice within and the more feelings of peace and well-being rise up inside me.  I get a richer experience of life and access an impersonal wisdom inside me that seems more akin to the wisdom of the ages than any personal insights I may have gleaned from my 40 plus years on the planet.

The difference between “not having too much on my mind” and having “a quiet mind” seems huge to me.  When I strive for a quiet mind, I inevitably fill my head with noisy thoughts about how well or poorly I’m doing.

When I see that the less I have on my mind, the better life gets, I am simply less inclined to think about things that don’t need my input at the moment.  Fortunately, that accounts for pretty much everything that’s happened to me in the past, might happen to me in the future, or is happening outside of my direct sphere of influence in the present.

In other words, there’s really not much we have to think about in order to have a rich, full, and contributory life.

I have learned a great respect for the words of Franz Kafka:

You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

Have fun, learn heaps, and happy exploring!

With all my love,

Michael

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