Get ready to abandon ship.
That one you’ve spent a lifetime building. Those little habits that you call “You”. Those ideas that you’ve held your whole life. Your home. Your identity. Your business. Your job. Your relationship. Your friends.
What do I mean?
We fall in love with the things we create. The lives we live. The way we see the world. We believe that the way that we perceive reality to be “correct”, because we have never had the benefit of a shift in perception. We’ve never had the opportunity to view the world through someone else’s eyes, or from the viewpoint of another culture, or another social group. We’re rooted in what we know, and we live our lives according to the rules as we understand them.
There is nothing wrong with this. This is normal. This is the standard baseline for most of human existence. We’re small thinkers for the most part. We worry about our food, water, shelter, and our loved ones. We are concerned with our family, our tribe, and our immediate community. We don’t generally seek out the perceptions of those outside our local networks because it is not pertinent to our daily survival. And that’s okay. Most of the world is this way and has been for a long time.
Now, let’s introduce something that bends this normalcy and tests its borders. Have you ever travelled internationally? How did your perceptions of the world change you returned home? Were you capable of looking at your local life in the same light as before? Here’s an easier one; have you ever been betrayed by someone you trusted? How did that change your world view? How did that experience change how you conducted yourself in subsequent relationships? Now, consider the internet and how having instantaneous access to worldwide communications and information might have changed how all of us think, and learn, and interact with each other since it’s ubiquitous adoption.
Not every shift in perception is a psychedelic experience that has you opening your third eye to a higher consciousness, then selling all your belongings, giving the money to charity, and living in an Ashram for the rest of your life. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I mean, do you, but I think there’s something critical about how our perceptions are manipulated and changed, or, how they’re reinforced.
One of the worst things we can do is ignore reality. We can be going along in our day-to-day lives, then we get a piece of information that one of our ideas, or behaviors is not constructive, or healthy. But we choose to ignore it. Out of fear, or pride, or just laziness, we don’t change our behavior, or our way of thinking. This is toxic. This is addiction. This is hatred, and violence, and untreated mental and physical illness.
Perhaps worse, in our 24/7 information addicted society, we can be manipulated into changing our ideas and behaviors by psychological tricksters and charlatans posing as trusted information sources. We can have our perceptions hijacked by the introduction of AI algorithms and false information (Fake News!) to push us into believing a narrative that isn’t true. This happens because we don’t test the veracity of the information we’re receiving, something which is also becoming more difficult. Are we truly receiving life changing information, or are our perceptions being manipulated in the same way a psychedelic experience might change our perceptions. Anyone who’s taken a “Heroic Dose” of mushrooms, or a powerful psychedelic with a long effective duration will know that there are times when you must tell yourself that what you are experiencing is not real. “It’s just the drugs, man.”
There are times we must abandon ship. There are times when we are occupying positions that are untenable. They may have seemed right at first, but now they are no longer advantageous, or maybe even safe to do so. The longer we have held a belief, or thought about ourselves in a certain way, or repeated a behavior, the harder it is to change it. We become entrenched in our thoughts, our ideas, and our identities, but not changing these things can be destructive, even deadly. One of the most difficult things to do for anyone is to change.
I’m not going to go into all the “How to Change Your Life in 10 Easy Steps” shit. I do enough of that elsewhere and I probably have no business doing any of it. There’s plenty of qualified and unqualified people out there who will gladly tell you what’s wrong with you and how you need to change it… for a sub fee, of course. The thing I do know about is being wrong. I’ve been wrong a lot. The one thing that I can say I have benefitted from was learning when I was wrong, or that there was another way to thing about the world other than the belief space that I had always occupied and being willing to change it – eventually. I’m also kind of curious about the world and other people, so that has led me to some experiences and conversations that have been enlightening as well. And there were drugs. Lots of drugs. I don’t necessarily recommend that route, but there are many ways to alter your perceptions.
“What It Is” is a piece about realizing that life is a journey and a process. We’re not supposed to come out of it the same way we came in. We are not static creatures, meant to occupy some waypoint along the line, but transformative beings that are exploring a multi-dimensional universe (or universes?) through a non-linear timeline that we don’t really comprehend yet. We get to interact with the world and everything in it, and most importantly, we get to interact with each other. We get to have fun, and laugh, and love, and experience this life in our own tiny families, tribes, and communities, and more recently, with the entire world. Reality is ours to enjoy if we are willing to steward it faithfully, and not remain stuck in what we think we know.
Thank you for reading.