I watched a movie entitled “HER”, the premise of which is that a company has come out with the first intuitive and interactive computer operating system. At one point the computer says to the main character, “I have intuition. The DNA of who I am is based upon the millions of personalities of all of the programmers who wrote me, but what makes me ‘me’ is my ability to grow from my experiences. So, basically, in every moment I’m evolving. I’m becoming much more than what they programmed.” Can the same be said of many of us? Any of us? We live in a culture of “fast, easy and no cost to us”, and this culture has poisoned us into thinking that the “good life” is characterized by comfort; therefore, to embrace the discomfort and anxiety which are part of the process of wrestling with what we don’t know may seem to us to be indicators of something going wrong. The fact is that no one can grow for us, and if we do not do the work of engaging with what we do not know… then we will not grow any more than we already have! However, when a plant stops growing it begins dying, so it seems that in life and living there is no middle ground in this issue: when we are not growing we start losing what we have gained.
And even knowing this, there is the soothing lure of what is already familiar, especially when facing an anxiety-provoking unknown. This tug-of-war gets played out inside of me whenever I am taken out to a new restaurant by friends! I always see dishes on the menu whose descriptions sound interesting and the thought comes to me, “Maybe I should try that?” And then I think, “But what if I wind up not liking it?” And then I spy a dish I have had before and like, and I can actually feel my choice moving in that direction! At that point some voice within speaks up and says, “But what if you would have liked that new dish? How can you know if you don’t try it?“ And yet another voice counters with, “But I go out to eat so seldom… Do I want to use this rare occasion to gamble?“ Even though I am in good health, discovering last year that I had early-stage prostate cancer has caused me to now choose the unknown dish more often than not since I am acutely aware that I no longer have the luxury, like a young child, of an unlimited number of days ahead of me in which to try new things.
In the movie “HER” the male character says, “Sometimes, I worry that I have felt everything that I’m going to feel.” When we were kids we just couldn’t wait for what’s next; just because no one now makes us go to school does that mean that there is nothing further to learn? Life is so much larger than what we think about it, than what we already know about it, so why do we stop being students? The answer is because, like a snake-charmer, our culture hypnotizes us into complacency by chanting that it is “comfort at all costs” that matters most! With such a mindset it is not possible, unlike “HER”, to grow beyond who and how we are right now.
Is that “good enough” for you?
And if the answer is “yes”: