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The need for discernment

Ideas around knowing what to do in life, where we stand, what it means, where we want to be headed, and whether we’re on the right track with it all often preoccupy me (see Notes One). This sense of seeing the possibilities, sifting through them, and deciding what to do for the best.

It’s the undercurrent of this writing, and something I’ve struggled with from the outset: not wanting to limit my scope too much, I created a structure where I could talk about anything. But then, clearly, you need to be a little selective. How do you create a system that balances freedom with necessary constraint?

You might flit around in endless novelty, following whatever idea takes your fancy and ending up on strange paths leading to stranger places. You might impose a fairly rigid system to ensure that kind of thing doesn’t happen and everything proceeds steadily; but then you might end up in an equally strange place, bogged down by prescriptive detail.

Thought’s an interesting one, as it can often take on a life of its own and lead to such outcomes. It’s like it has this intrinsic sense of where to go next, this logical train of ideas that draw you down such pathways. Then the ability to see connections sneaks in and suddenly you’re caught in a web that’s pulling you down by the sheer weight of its implications.

All that’s as true of this writing as it is of mind, society, technology and modern life in general (Notes Two). We have these connections: all this knowledge, these complex relationships we may or may not see, and the sense of each thing leading to countless others. It can easily seem like too much and, in the face of that, we might turn back to the lighter frivolous path or cling to systems we once established.

And that, for me, is where discernment really needs to step in: that we somehow find the means to hold our ground, see what matters, and decide to let go of some things. This idea of all that we might choose to leave undone; letting perfectly good options fall by the wayside. Then, what might prompt us to change, be that threats, promises or honest insight into where we might be going wrong.

Because there’s so much choice in life: as consumers, with friendships, or in terms of what we do, how we are, ways we present ourselves to the world, thoughts we think and words we might say. Without a clearer sense of what we’re doing, what’s valuable and what’s more of a hindrance to us or to others, then it seems we risk going nowhere fast.

I’m talking on a lot of levels here, as is my way, but mainly just acknowledging a shift from the contracted path this writing had drifted onto. As it seems I’m the kind of person who likes things to be stated, recognised, honestly released, even if nobody knew there was a problem.

Notes and References:

Note 1: The philosopher stance
Note 1: Right to question and decide
Note 2: Does it matter if others suffer?
Note 2: Mental health as a truth to be heard?
Note 2: The web and the wider world

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