I am still a student of this life. Not in years, I agree, but in the way I am open to new truths. You would think, after 66 years that I might know most of them, but I most certainly do not. That thinking, ‘I Know All There Is To Know’ is a fool’s thinking, because life changes her colour and shape all the time and to think I know it all is only ever going to find me lost on some metaphorical mountain.
I’m not talking about worldly knowledge of worldly matters such a how to sort out the wifi or the bushes on a car or how to skin a rabbit. I may not be talking about knowledge at all. I may be talking about no knowledge, but, instead, an eternal questioning, an open mind, the humility to say to myself that I am still a student of this life and not always one who pays close attention. A could-do-better sort of student.
As life brings changes I can get really fed up with her. Life must be a ‘her’ or it would plod predictably onwards, offering little in the way of change and we would all know exactly where we were going at every stage. But that is not how life is. Life is, in fact, a menace. Just when you think you’ve got it all sorted, something deep shifts and the whole floor moves beneath your feet. The carpet no longer meets the walls and there are tripper lumps everywhere. You might not even know what it is, that deep shift, but you can see the manifestation of it down there across your expanse of Axminster. Well, dammit. Here we go again!
I used to tell myself that everything would be ok ‘when….’ When the sun comes out again, when the term ends or begins, when the season is over, when I get that new dress from Next and so on. Dust in the wind, the lot of them. Not one ever thrilled me beyond the initial wahoo and not one of them gave me peace or joy for very long. In order to sort out the black hole we all have inside ourselves I need to find other worldly ways and a good strong torch. I need to shine that light into the darkness and then begin to fill the hole with good thoughts, beliefs, fairies and sparkles. In other words, and this is the hard bit, I need to control my mind. Well, that would be a first. Who has ever managed to do that successfully when the doubts and fears can multiply like mice and shout like Trump?
If I believe, for example, that this caring sentence will take me all the way to the morgue, then that is exactly what will happen. After all, haven’t I watched a number of such carers dwindle off the planet once they are free from caring? There’s my evidence, there’s the truth. But I am mistaken in feeling so powerless, for I am all powerful providing I outfox the fox in my mind. I know that the brain cannot tell the difference between the real and the imagined, so that what I believe, speak out, make my credo is what will happen to me. Instead of looking at the ‘evidence’ all around me I can choose to create a fantasy of life. I start with an affirmation, repeated every time I feel the caving in thoughts tramping into my head, one that stands tall and solid like a single woman warrior, alert, strong and with a black belt in Marshall Arts. I repeat this sentence on waking when the old demon wraiths gather around my bed blocking my view of the birds on a wire. I repeat it every time I feel tired, wrung out, defeated, scared and lost. As I persist, it will create a lovely open and light space in my head. I can smell the flowers, walk along the shore of it, a salt-tang on my tongue. I can turn my face towards the sun. I can wrap myself in the soft feathers of peace and hear the wild, joyous song of it in my ears.
I was always taught to be realistic. Come down from the clouds you silly girl! Get real. And, to a great degree I have complied, as we all do. However, the power of the mind was not something much discussed around the family Sunday lunch unless you were the first to solve a Dad-riddle, in which case you were immediately awarded the Bright Child Medal. Talk of wafty beliefs just upset everyone. But the mind has more unconscious in it than we realise and it is the unconscious that needs a new diet. If the unconscious is convinced of something, the conscious mind will make it happen. But, if the unconscious is left to its own devices then we will get sick because that is what we deeply fear; we will fail at that interview, lose our job, not be chosen for the football team and so on because that is what we deeply fear.
There is a way to a happy and fulfilled life by simply reprogramming the unconscious mind. Starting without belief, probably feeling foolish, certain it won’t change a thing when the inevitable is inevitable is quite normal. Speak that affirmation out, using the present tense, as if it is already true; write it down everywhere, hold on to it tightly and sooner than you or I think, a little something will shift just enough for us to see that maybe, just maybe, this As If thinking can change everything.