Child psychology explains that until the age of two, a child believes that everything they experience, the mother or any other caregiver experiences, too. That’s why they simply close their eyes and think they’re hidden. They cannot see us, so how can we see them? It’s a cute thing to watch and sometimes we’re on the receiving end of a lot of frustration when we don’t simply know what it is they want. So, we teach our children that what they feel, see and think is not the same that goes on in other bodies and minds. We try to give them the bigger picture.
Except that, apparently we don’t. Have a look around you, listen to people speak and complain. You will find that most of us remain in the same frame of mind. The other person surely must know what I need, feel, think and see. “Can’t you see the obvious?” we cry. “Just use your common sense (i.e. think what I think),” we advise.
It’s all about us
Most of us live our lives as if whatever goes on within our minds is the ultimate truth in the world. One of the traps we have set up for ourselves is taking everything personal. From our in-law’s comment to the neighbor’s dog poo on our front yard to the rain on our barbecue. They all seem out to get us sometimes. And that little voice that says, “aw, don’t take it personally” doesn’t really have much power. After all, they KNOW how you feel about this, don’t they?
Let’s get some perspective then and see how truly nothing is or will ever be personal. First of all, it is good to realize that there is not just one moment. There is just one moment that we see at any given point in time. While looking at these words makes up your moment, there are billions of moments out there at the same time. Right to your left a fly may take its last breath on earth. Behind you, your sister feels some weird memory come up inside her as she watches a scene on TV. A little further down the road, a dog barks at a boy. In China a sack of rice falls over and on Jupiter some gas explodes.
You wouldn’t think that Jupiter’s gas is personal, would you? You wouldn’t take the dog’s bark personally either. Yet all of this is happening. You only take this moment in front of you personally, because it happens to be the one you’re looking at. And more, you think this is the world. Just like we say we see the forest or the ocean when all we could possibly see is a tiny fraction of it that happens to be right in front of our eyes.
Where do these moments come from anyways? We have a tendency to think that we or other people created them. Hence, they could (and should) be better.
Well, let’s see.
A long, long time ago a giant explosion spits out all the mass that exists today in all our universe. Then, for hundreds of thousands of years, what was initially only plasma does nothing but expand and cool down. At some point the odd electron feels attracted to protons and neutrons. They form the first hydrogen atoms. Eventually they allow photon or light to escape and even gravity to take effect. Gravity begins to pull hydrogen atoms together and has them fuse and create helium.
The core of stars
Forever fusing they create carbon and eventually all the other lighter elements on the periodic table. All until there is iron, which absorbs more heat than it releases. It forces the star to collapse into a supernova finally creating all the other elements we have in this world today. Gravity, fusion, collapse, blowing out, gravity, fusion, collapse, blowing out, millions and millions of years until the earth is born. Vegetation and dinosaurs, specifically that one that puts its foot in the mud.
That dinosaur leaves an imprint there that turns into a lake. The lake attracts the first settlers, who built their village. One day someone hurts his foot and thinks ‘why does that always happen to me?’. He stays behind, being taken care of by this woman. Nine months later she gives birth to a girl that gets very sick. As a consequence, she grows up to be a frail young woman. This is why the big chief, even though he is attracted to her, decides to better take the sturdy girl from the other hut. He gives the frail young woman to his cousin, who loves her dearly. They have a boy, who grows up and has children.
Four hundred generations later that girl that is born from that generation refuses to meet her parents’ demands to marry the proper state official. Instead – oh, what did we do to deserve such an ungrateful daughter? – she runs away with the postman. She gives birth to a boy, who grows up to marry a woman, who frequently suffers from sudden migraines.
That night – can’t I expect a little more sexual desire from my own wife? – she refuses again and only receives him the following week. That one happy sperm that has been at the front that previous week is already slow and old. It is easy for the young feisty sperm to overtake it (it’s just not fair! I should have been the one to win the race!) – and meets the egg. Only because of all of this you are conceived.
That’s the bigger picture.
And only because for the next 40 weeks every single of the trillion molecules in this world did precisely what it did, only because every drop of rain fell the way it fell, every butterfly flapped its tiny wings the way it did and your mother’s molecules moved in precisely the way they did, were you born the way you were born. Only because the next thirty or forty years every atom moved the way it did, every bird chirped the way it chirped, John gave you that funny look on a sunny day in 2002 and it rained on your twelfth birthday, only because of that you are sitting here reading these lines.
Now you’re telling me: “I’d rather this moment was different. So that I can feel better about myself.”
I think that’s funny.
Now, what does that have to do with your situation? You may be willing to accept that the hydrogen molecules decided to get together for a little rain without the malignant intention to spoil your barbecue. Surely, that bunch of molecules that wears your wedding ring should know better than to leave all the dishes in the sink again after the barbecue is over. And yet, that bunch of molecules does have its own dynamics, mental filters, emotional needs and voids. It’s history and a million moments every day, where you are literally not even in the picture.
Even when they respond to something you say or do, they are responding really to their own filters of perception. They respond to their own needs and projections, their own ideas of how the world – and you – should be.
It has nothing to do with you.