The other morning I experienced yet another of these enlightening, and at the same time embarrassing moments. It was just before the sunrise in the morning, and as I was very slowly waking up I noticed Noa, my beloved, quietly sliding out of the bed and leaving the bedroom. Five minutes later I, while sleepily walking to the bathroom, glanced across the living room and saw Noa standing outside, on the terrace, with her phone in her hand.
I stopped and was staring at her for a few seconds; what is going on here? What could be such a secret that she not only needs to get out of the bed while I sleep, but actually out of the house and on to the terrace? What is happening behind my back?
Now immediately fully awake I stepped on to the terrace. Quickly she turned towards me, with a finger over her smiling lips, signalling me to be quiet. I stopped, starring in her smiling face and big, excited eyes:
“I am recording birds… Isn’t it crazy?”
Only then I heard them. Hundreds of them in the trees all around and from the whole valley, singing on the top of their voices. Perhaps greeting the sun that was just about to rise. It was overwhelmingly beautiful. My sweetheart had heard them while still in bed and went to capture this beauty.
I smiled and went to the bathroom, embarrassed and in a disbelief. Realizing that in the seconds when I was looking at her standing on the terrace with the phone in her hand, my mind offered only one possible explanation. Not at least two, or three. Only one: something fishy happening behind my back.
Of course I can track this pattern of thinking back to my childhood and the family I was surrounded with: so many secrets, half-truths, manipulations, lies… And so little authenticity, transparency.
Yet, it is sad to see how these old patterns are, silently in the background, dominating construction of my reality, despite the fact that in my relationship with Noa I have been experiencing nothing but sheer authenticity, honesty and togetherness. And so, regardless of so many other possibilities, my mind was offering me one only, the one from so long ago. And thus my world, in that moment, was limited only to what my mind was capable of grasping.
This process of inference, of reaching conclusions and adding meaning, is so easy to observe on others, and so hard to catch within ourselves, is it not? Yes, we do it in every single second of our lives – automatically adding meaning to what our senses capture.
For instance, say I have been sharing something personal with you for ten minutes and in a certain moment I see you yawning. Though in the last ten minutes so many other observations were captured by my senses, this one second of you yawning immediately overrides the 600 seconds of me seeing you looking at me attentively, nodding, reflecting back empathically.
Next, I automatically add meaning to what I saw: you are yawning because you find my sharing boring. That is it, I don’t question this assumptions, I don’t explore other possibilities, like perhaps you did not sleep much because you were tortured by a severe migraine. Or your child was crying through the night because of nightmares. Or you just had a really big lunch and now the digestion is using up much of your energy.
Still within the same moment, I generalize my assumption: you don’t enjoy being with me and you don’t really care about me. This fits well into my personal belief system that I already formed long time ago, based on many of similar interpretations: people don’t care about me. Because people just don’t care, they are all so self-centred. Or, that I am a boring person, not good enough, not interesting, not worthy of attention, not enjoyable to be with.
Not only will my next choice be based on this inner belief of mine – like will I continue speaking, will I keep openly sharing my heart, will I keep in authentic connection -, but I will also seek data that will confirm and keep confirming my belief. I will scan the environment in order to, again and again, see another person yawning, another person glancing at their wristwatch, another person not returning my call, another person not listening to the end; see, I knew it, I am not interesting enough and nobody cares about me.
I will keep, and I do so from one second to another, confirming and polishing this little world of mine, this little cosy and well-known place. Narrowing my experience of life into some sort of a tunnel.
But what then is the reality? What is true?
What I know for sure is that the bigger reality is outside of reach of my mind. That it is far beyond my mind’s models, pictures, beliefs, illusions.
And while it might not be the easiest thing in the world to just simply step out of all of that, it definitely is possible to slowly, step by step, moment by moment, find my way back into the vulnerable innocence, back into the continuous wondering at life, back into meeting life with curious eyes and an open heart.
Because as long as I keep the awareness that I don’t know, I will be curious and eager to learn. Once I start believing that I figured the world out and that I know, I am not listening to life any longer, but just to the echoes of my mind.