The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Charting the Wilderness

Our Thoughtstream is a vast uncharted wilderness. When we start to chart that wilderness, set out to tame the unknown, do we ever pause to ask ourselves, “For what purpose am I doing this?”

Of course this is only metaphor – and yet, as with all metaphor, there is a definite parallel in reality.

Getting fruity
Now here I’ve presented you with a notion – from an ocean of ideas you understand – that there is such a thing as a thoughtstream.
You might take this as being an endlessly flowing river of energy presented to our conscious awareness – and out of this river we cherry-pick more noticeable thoughts. Once our cherries have been selected for examination, we might then retain and discard – perhaps on the basis of ripeness.

Where fruit and ripeness are concerned, I’d invite you to consider how you buy bananas – the selection criteria you apply. Amongst all the bananas some are still a bit green, some are more blackened, and although you’re never going to eat the skins of the bananas – you’ll have a pretty good idea of what the flesh of the fruit inside the skins (the meat if you like) is going to be like. Except of course, if you are new to the process of buying bananas!
So my notion of a thoughtstream can take many metaphorical forms – from fruit in rivers to the one I first placed into your shopping basket, or in-tray – the vast uncharted wilderness.

To what does exploring the wilderness lead?
After the first explorers, when man first went deep into the Amazon, or studied Antarctica or went to the moon and beyond, what were the next steps for man? Well, man is very resourceful, and although the overt meaning here might be that resourceful man has “the ability to find clever ways of overcoming difficulties”, we would do well to remember that resourceful is an adjective.
“I am resourceful”, “we have resourcefulness”, “they show great resource,” and so on. We talk about having the resources to overcome issues or obstacles in our lives. Performers, athletes, speakers, all talk about the need to have enabling resources at their fingertips.

However, man’s resourcefulness in terms of conquering any wilderness, taming the unexplored, is actually about exploitation in some form or other. The explorer may only have the motivation, the desire to ‘boldly go’ on the mission, purely because of the climbing Everest quote - “because it is there”. However the explorer’s fellow men, following up on his trailblazing, have few desires outside those of exploitation. This exploitation is the simple exploitation of resources. It could be minerals, vegetation, land, people – but the driver is still exploitation.
Of course, out of that exploitation will sometimes come spin-offs such as pushing the boundaries of knowledge, but essentially the driving humans behind the explorers are the exploiters. From Christopher Columbus’ sponsorship by the King of Spain, to the research scientists funded by drugs companies, to eventual mining on the moon by the space technology superpowers, exploration leads to exploitation, eventual dominance, and then maintaining that dominance.

Charting our own wilderness
I’d like to return to my original question – what is the purpose of charting our thoughtstream, of conquering our wilderness?

For most it is about feeling we are in control – in control of ourselves. And the more we can chart our wilderness, the more control we have – seems logical doesn’t it? However - what kind of control is that control?

Those at the upper end of the control scale are the control-freaks, the people who live out their lives in their heads. Their wish is to have that felt sense of being in charge of themselves – of running their own show – and in order to do this they dredge as much as they can out of their thoughtstream. Then the process is not about cherry-picking, but more about harvesting what they have dredged. In amongst each catch they land are cherries, of course, but a load of other stuff as well. Then, with a collector’s mind-set, they spend all their conscious awareness paying all their attention to the fruits of their dredging, instead of living their lives a different way.
And if you think I’m rambling here, then take a good look at the behaviour of some of the people you know who seem to be dredgers rather than cherry-pickers!

When we cherry-pick from the thoughtstream, who told us which ones were cherries in the first place? The art of suggestion upon us by others is well known – and some of us are more susceptible to external suggestions than others. Therefore, we will have accepted some recognition of cherries from others.
This is all new to me - I can’t do this.” Does this sound familiar?
If I say this to myself, then I’ll start to look for the ‘cherries’ of “I can’t” from my thoughtstream. Each one I pick out will confirm that I can’t do this. I’m not looking for the “I can” cherries am I? Those are the cans of tomatoes or peaches.
Also, if this isn’t bad enough, some of the juice from the cherries starts to colour up and contaminate things nearby – like doing new things. Next time we’re looking for the cherries of “I can’t” we’ll be picking out “doing new things” as well.
There’s a natural progression to my desire for being in control and the “not being in control” brought about by “new things I can’t do.” I just won’t do them! For my life to be smoothly in control I’ll avoid that kind of stuff – I just won’t go there.

I’ll readily admit that I spent well over forty years believing that control was the way to go, and I was a very good cherry-picker and occasional dredger. Looking back over those years, I’m not surprised that I failed to spot the tell-tale signs of over-thinking, of when my head was full of spinning plates I was endeavouring to keep spinning. When it’s like that it feels like there’s no time to step back and change the perspective, even if we know that that is what we need to do! Most of the time we just plough on with conquering that thoughtstream, charting that wilderness – and ploughing is not a word I choose casually either!  

The thing is, our thoughtstream IS a wilderness. Every morsel of cherry, or of dredge, is neither REAL nor is OURS – until we make it so.
In the very act of seeking out resources to enable us, we are looking to tame a wilderness that we think is ours.

Now you might be pointing the finger at me by now, as far as this article is concerned, reminding me that in order for me to have written it I will have picked some cherries out of my thoughtstream. For all you or I know, I may even have been dredging!
And I would agree with you – yes, I’ve latched onto some energy flowing by and amplified it by allowing some cell division to take place. I’ve given some of it a second or further thought. It’s what we ALL do, all the time we engage in a thought process.

The difference here for me is that, compared to those forty or so ordinary years when the purpose was control, the purpose NOW is for exploration.

It’s more like I’m flying over the wilderness, looking down. Or maybe I’m plying a lone trek through the territory, on a voyage of discovery - not looking to hack a path in order to build the broad highway back to ME. I’m exploring, through curiosity and a desire to know. I am not sponsored by any exploiters and I am not looking to garner some fruit and take it back to my own domain.

You could say that my domain is the wilderness – and I’m happy to keep the wilderness wild, unknown, unsullied, unexploited. For it is not my wilderness, per se, it is just a wilderness. If I were to chart the wilderness, it would, for one, cease to be unknown – and also the charts would be mine.

Oh indeed, I do occasionally lose sight of these things and climb into my own head as pilot of the plane, so to speak. Sometimes I crash land on the journey, though these days I mostly just notice the turbulence and ride out the storm.

There is much metaphor here, and even my use of metaphor ebbs and flows, shoots the rapids and occasionally goes into free fall. Draw whatever conclusions you will - however I would invite you to always check out the purpose of your actions in wanting to chart the wilderness. For in the very act of checking out you may arrive at the conclusion that you, too, are an explorer not an exploiter for resources – and charting, therefore, is not a necessity.

Just be comfortable in knowing that the elements in the thoughtstream are not real, and nor are they yours until you make them so.

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