Of all that’s flowing towards us, all the thoughts, assumptions and foredrawn conclusions, which of the threads do we agree to take up, work with and make part of our lives? Almost as if life is this large free-flowing conversation between all of us and all the ideas that’ve made their way through our communities and into our heads. So much demanding our attention, hoping we’ll engage with it and move it forward.
Some of it we perhaps don’t have that much choice over: those situations and relationships we’re essentially born into as our family, culture, society and way of life. Realities we don’t necessarily have the power to walk away from or renegotiate; instead having to live within them while somehow finding ways to articulate our perspectives and shift things toward a better expression of human worth and individuality.
This sense in which we’re born into a world that already exists, filled with all the people and ideas that came before us and charted their own course within this environment we now share. Everything having played out in a long, convoluted string of choices and consequences as “whatever people thought best” worked its way out through the lives, relationships and systems we’re now finding ourselves in.
Doesn’t it all have a knock-on effect? Small things perhaps dramatically reshaping individual lives as paths get shunted off course by erroneous ideas having found ground and blossomed into potentially quite mistaken chains of events. As if, with our growing freedom over recent centuries, strange directions may’ve been taken within society that leave us stuck in the middle of increasingly difficult situations.
How are we to find ourselves within it all and gain clarity over the best response we might make? So much must be incredibly personal: intensely lived moments and lifetimes as countless individuals had to live through whatever was set in motion around them. And so much must have been formative: shaping the very ideas we have in mind and conclusions we’ve drawn about life and how to go about it.
As if we’re all folded into this “conversation” long before we have the ability to see it for what it is – before we had the power to consciously disengage or not let certain ideas affect us. All of it flowing round us as a given; becoming the circumstances of our lives and thoughts we quite naturally had in light of them. As if we’re part of the conversation before we’re even aware it is one.
Once, though, we see that our interpretation and contribution to it all is something we have a choice over, how are we to extricate ourselves from the rhythm of the conversation and create something different? As if, waking up in the middle of a flowing river, we might see the need for another approach. How, then, can we break with momentum’s expectation and engage differently?
This idea of stepping back, finding new words and somehow cracking open the lid of a different form of communication.
Notes and References:
Do we live in different worlds?
Things we give voice to
Voices within cultural life
Can there be beauty in communication?
Responsibility for the bigger picture
Pace of change & getting nowhere fast
Charting our own course