We all tend to think that we have one, that is an open mind. But if you really want to see how open someone’s mind is help them load the dishwasher...
Seriously, you can learn a lot about a person in this regard...
Are they a silverware up person?
Are they a silverware up but knives down person?
Are they a silverware down person?
Are they a don’t have a dishwasher person?
Are they a have a dishwasher but use it for storage person?
Once you have identified which person you are dealing with, load the dishwasher differently...not according to their dishwasher etiquette...see how very much there is a disturbance in the force.
Of course I am kidding...but there is some truth in this. There are varying degrees of people’s OCD but for the most part we all have a way about things that matter, about things that don’t. We all seem to have some way that is innate to us that we tend to believe is the right way. This tendency is stronger in some people (like moi) and seemingly absent in others...
My point in the above example is that everyone regardless of their feelings on dishwasher etiquette has a innate way of being...ideas, thoughts and behaviors that that person believes is the way life should be lived, things should be done and tasks completed. We all have our own way.
And with this way comes a resistant to all other ways. We tend to resist things that go against the grain of our way. We do not like things that interrupt the flow of our way. Those things are irritants, diversions and generally a pain in the ass. However, what we fail to realize is that our way is painfully limited. It is never THE way, it is just ours, there are many other perfectly suitable ways.
I am a life long believer that MY way is the best way. For a long time, I really thought that my way was the only way...that the rest of you on the planet were really getting it all wrong. And I would tell you that every chance I got.
But what that really was, was a cover for my own insecurities, my way had to be the best way because otherwise I was living proof that I was not doing a good job at this whole life thing. If your way was better, I was failing. And how very true that proved to be in my case.
Again, I will return to 25 and hitting rock bottom with drinking because this is really where my life began. The first 25 years spent developing a way that only lead to self destruction. Not that I didn’t need recovery sooner than I got there, but what I lacked was any kind of an open mind...I couldn’t imagine a life without drinking! I mean how could one function in life without booze? I was the kind of person that measured distance by 6 packs...”oh, that is a 12 pack trip”. “Oh, that is a case trip.” I could not fathom life without alcohol...ever.
And that belief and way, kept me drunk and fucked up for at least a decade. If I look back on my drinking, I can see that I likely needed help at about 15. My drinking career two years in already giving off strong indicators that it was not normal and headed for trouble.
I was offered recovery for some time before I actually went...but my response every time was “it is not THAT bad!” But it was, I just lacked the ability to see it because my mind was so closed around the problem and also therefore closed to the solution.
Today, I have a much more flexible mind. I am wrong all the time about everything and that is fantastic news! Oh, I don’t always think it is grand at the time, but in fairly short order, I can see that I am off course and that whatever I thought should happen, was so limited compared to what actually happened or could happen if I get out of the way.
Keeping my mind open is another full time job. I have OCD and ADD so I am compulsively doing things while getting distracted all the time. It is not particularly productive but instead of being upset about it, I tend to just laugh at myself. I will have like seven projects going at a time and see that I am all over the place and have to reign myself in and focus...the struggle is real.
But one of the things I pray for every day is the ability to see a new way. To see where I am wrong, to see where others are right. To be open to what is happening instead of shutting my mind and insisting that things be other than how they are.
I am a work in progress for sure but my mind is definitely open...then it isn’t, then it is...That is just how it works for me. I endeavor to keep it open, but then life’s circumstances give me lots of opportunities to see where I am closed off again.
What is at the base of it all is a fundamental and pervasive belief that I really don’t know much of anything. That all of my convictions and beliefs and ideas have all been proven wrong at one time or the other so I really should not take so much stock in what I think and how I believe things should be...
An open mind allows for the expression of the contrary, allows for some idea that is not original, for there to be the possibility of being wrong, incomplete and erroneous. An open mind is a fallible mind who doesn’t care. Be wrong, be right, who the hell cares?
Today I work to keep my mind open instead of married to all the bullshit ideas and thoughts it thinks up. I am the warden and the inmate in the asylum of my own head. I have the keys but chose to stay locked in frequently...but today I see that this is a choice not a mandate.
"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation." Herbert Spencer
Today an open mind allows me to chose freedom over ignorance...and it always starts with me doing the hard and heavy lifting of opening my mind...every single day.