We Are the Clay, We Are the Potter

When we are born into this world, we are mushy and undefined – much more than our animal counterparts. We have a backing of DNA and genetics which can (and does) affect the trajectory of our lives, but in a large sense, we are born without the “built-in” instincts that our mammalian relatives have.

While other animals walk or run within hours of life, we humans do no such thing. We humans rely exclusively on caregivers and environment to give us our start and oil our potential. We are pretty much born a lump of clay – with all the potential our genetics can provide, but largely leaving our fate in the hands of our environment, which molds our clay to the world we live in.

In other words, we are born as an undefined “Full Slate” of much potential that the world then co-opts. We are all entirely a co-creation of the world we are born into.

What evolutionary advantage does this serve us? Dr. David Eagleman asks this question (in his TV series The Brain), and it really got me thinking. Indeed, it is a risky thing to be so heavily dependent on environmental factors in order to guide our brain development to its full potential. In the second episode of the series, he cites that our brains finish building the vast majority of neural networks by age 2. In effect, the first two years of your life have immense importance on your cognitive future. And given that social contact and human interaction is highly associated with building neural networks, if a child is missing out on these crucial components in the first two years, then they suffer for it – even potentially into adulthood if the experience was severe.

How in the world is it more advantageous for our evolution to be so dependent on the environment we are born into?

From a non-scientific, hypothetically spiritual point of view… I feel that our positive advancement forward depends on the wheel of advancement before us. One influences the other, and in an exponential way. Our positive life experiences influence future generations, and so on.

However, it is just as likely that the wheel of influence will work the other way – negatively – and then snowball the other direction.

But then – when looked at from that perspective – being born as an undefined, moldable lump of clay serves a greater purpose than we may have supposed. Even if the world is snowballing into dark, unfortunate events, the chance will still exist that we can snowball the other way. We can be re-molded. We are always born into the neutral, and could essentially “re-start” if the chance presented itself. Even as adults, our neural-plasticity can bear amazing feats.

What gives me hope is that one small act of positivity can roll fast and large into more and more positivity – faster than we thought possible. Even with the garbage of the political climate and international terrorism looming dark and ominous, I am struck by how many people that are thinking beyond it. That are being led by their hearts, and not their fear. I actually didn’t expect it at all.

It is this rhetoric that I think will lead us to the future. Leaning on our heart intelligence, our dual intelligence, is how I think we will overcome and grow in heart and spirit. And all it takes is one little snowball.

I want to take a moment to be grateful for the immense beauty of being born into a world with a vast infinite potential that is unwritten.
It is a risk – yes – but also a loving, joyful, and trusting leap of faith.

What a thing to be thankful for.

Fear: Shutter of The Heart

Is Fear the most dangerous thing of all? Does it really serve a good purpose, or is it hiding the true reality? The thing I find myself fearing is fear itself, and what it’s doing to us as a culture, as human beings.

What do we do when we live in fear? We shut down. When we act from fear, we literally process information in ‘life or death’ terms and activate our ‘fight or flight’ response in the body. This mechanism exists to keep us safe and keep us alive. But in doing so, our immune system shuts down. Our brains turn off. Creativity drains away. Infinite possibilities evaporate. Open arms and hearts close up, barring entrance from anything or anyone suspicious. We process only that information which benefits the situation and the final ‘fight or flight’ decision. Only that and nothing else. Why would your brain waste precious energy in a life and death situation trying to be creative and open-minded? Doing so might cost our life!

Yet even with all the life-saving functions, we were not meant to live in fear ALL of our lives – only for small instances where we needed to outrun someone with a club, think fast on the road, survive an encounter with a bear, or save a loved one from scary situation. But the fear response, and what it creates and does to us, cannot possibly benefit us if we are living it every moment of every day. A dark cloud looming overhead. This emotional force was designed to save our lives in short bursts, not to be endured for an extended period.

What a toll this fear is taking on our health and our hearts. Constant fear certainly will not nurture our souls so we may grow and evolve as humans.

It seems to me that fear cannot inherently exist where there is love. Real, infinite love. If you are operating out of love, you have no fear, only confidence of the moment and the person or situation in front of you. Fear accomplishes nothing; Love accomplishes everything.

Without fear, I really do think we can see things as they really are – and not through the lens of darkness that fear creates. What illusions might we be seeing that we are interpreting as real? That are only shadows from a deep fear in our mind?

Who plants the seeds of those shadows? How can we remove them, shine the light to reveal their true nature and source? Will an open heart reveal them, lift them from our shoulders?

Fear puts words into our mouths that are not our own. Fear ignites motivations that stem from false truths. Fear paralyzes us, but tricks us into thinking we are doing great things and protecting the common good. Fear does not encourage us to think outside ourselves and our own interest. Fear shutters our hearts and minds from infinite love.

Human Context

I feel as if the internet is the wild, wild west of the modern era. Anything goes! Speak your mind! Offend people! Let off steam! Stake your claim! Get into duels! Express yourself! Dig for gold! Free-range thoughts!

I can’t be the only one who is getting a little weary of this attitude? Don’t get me wrong, the internet and the ‘free-range’ thoughts that are expressed and consumed by it seem great –  the immense commerce of ideas and information, how is that not exciting?! The information junkie inside me is revelatory in the amount of data that is available to consume. So-called free-thought. Or is it?

Recently I have been thinking about the online trend to increasingly ‘curate’ or personalize our internet experience. Don’t like that ad? Get one that is more to your liking! Offended by your crazy aunt bitch about Obama on Facebook? You can block her posts! Everything is moving towards cushioning us into our own comfortable bubbles of dogma. So much so that we are forgetting what it is like to have frank, honest and civil disagreements with other people who hold differing beliefs. I’m not sure if the online population has caught on to this yet, but I’m pretty sure it is statistically impossible to convert 100% of all people to one way of looking at the world.

We will always meet with a differing viewpoint. Always. I feel like sometimes there are people online who are actually offended when other people do not view things the way they do. Is this for real?

So how does someone get to the point where they believe their way is the only way? That a civil discourse on a topic that may be contentious turns into vehement hate-spew in the comments of an article? I think the internet is increasingly de-humanizing the exchange of ideas, so when you interact with others online you are missing a crucial piece of the context: the actual human presence. Sure, you see their name and photo maybe, and perhaps where they live, but does your brain actually humanize the avatar of this so-called real person?

In his book Mindwise, Nicholas Epley notes a study which highlights a huge disconnect in the way people think they will act in a certain situation, and what they actually do when faced with the real face-to-face interaction. There is a certifiable contextual element when you have real people in front of you, and your subconscious has spent millennia learning how to interpret body language, facial expressions and mood into a very human interaction. And now we are having to re-train our subconscious in translating the subtext of internet slang and emojis in order to complete our social transaction. I’m pretty sure that without the real person in front of us, our consciousness is not able to properly interpret and react the way it needs to, leaving us with a more or less empty encounter, devoid of real energy and exchange. An interaction that is mostly about ourselves and our personal agenda. Humanity removed.

I believe firmly that we have a social consciousness that is crucial to our ideological mindset and evolution, and without actual interpersonal interaction it is rendered useless. Unless we are somehow able to humanize these interactions? Is the internet stunting us in this regard? I certainly hope not, but this thought has moved me to build more in-person social activities in my life. The virtual version of such is of no comparison, and is indeed missing so much context.