“And when you look directly at an insane man all you see is a reflection of your own knowledge that he’s insane, which is not to see him at all”. – Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
From a young age – the age from which you can cognise or remember – you paint pictures of people who surround you. You lend to them shapes, shades, and colours on the canvas you are born with. Giving them an actual appearance, one begins to see them as they are. Somewhere along the way, your view morphs into giving them patterns and colours as you want to see them. As a consequence, we lose seeing them in their actual, vibrant colour. We lose seeing them as they are.
What is happening here?
You are seeing another person as a reflection of your own stories about them. Eventually, people become the stories you tell about them – to you and to others.
Imagine if you undergo the same. Other people paint a picture of you as they want and have given you a framework that you must fit in? Does that approach make sense to you? Or, does it sound like a load of gibberish? You wouldn’t want someone to fit you in their profile. Right? What you would instead want is that they fit you in your profile.
Let’s take this one step ahead.
What if your reflection of yourself was also a story you’ve made up? What if you lost sight of your true self when you were growing up and lent power to the external world to condition you? To fit into society, you discarded the empty canvas you were born with and cut a piece from the one that society offered. Then, with whatever colours were available, you painted a picture that others could make sense of. In essence, you have become – not a reflection of your original, but what you want society to see you as.
Life, for me, is split into two parts.
There was a time in my life when I was following the path described above. I have begun to realise that this path is rife with suffering. Why? Because “expectation” is the asphalt that paves this path. Reality and expectations rarely converge; there is more divergence. This divergence is the birthplace of suffering.
The part after the split is where I try to live life now.
Not as I want to see it, but as it happens. When I choose this option, there are no expectations – from anyone or even from myself. In this state, things happen, without reason. When you begin to see things for what they are, you begin to see life in all its brilliance and magnanimity. This leap from the old path to the new is one of the best I have taken in my life. It isn’t a leap of faith, but a leap of truth.
Imagine a scenario if you were to bump into an empty car while driving – you wouldn’t be mad at it. But, what if there was a person in it? The whole game changes.