Pardon me for being rude…

Pardon me for being rude. It was not me, it was my food. It just popped up to say hello, and now it’s gone back down below.

This little rhyme from my childhood memories serves as an interesting way to put across a rather complex idea.

I don’t decide when I burp, sneeze, when my heart beats, when I blink, or breathe. Well actually, those last two I have some control there; I can decide to blink, or take a breath. Much of the time it happens outside of my awareness, though. When I walk, I’m in control there, yet, I’m never making any conscious effort to put one foot in front of the other, so how can I say I’m doing it ‘by decision’? Even reading – a pretty complex task – can become almost passive, our eyes gleaming down the page of a book we’re truly enthralled in.

Getting a flu, losing a job, or being able to see these words – those are things that surely are totally outside of my control though, right? I mean, I could look away from these words, but looking at them, the fact I can see them is nothing to do with me, right? They’re just there, in front of my eyes, so I’m seeing them, right? Reading these words, your body is going through all sorts of processes, allowing you to read this with practically no conscious effort – but you’re just doing the reading, not doing all those things behind the scenes… right?

You’re just moving your eyes across the screen.

your pupils letting in light, the cells sending those impulses to the brain, the jumping-through-hoops that your brain is doing to create that little voice in your head that hears these words, recalling the ability to read, what these letters, words, and sentences mean – you’re doing none of that, you’re just reading, right?

Most people would say they are actively choosing to read, an act of free will, or whatever you want to call it. All the goings-on behind the scene, you’re not doing that, it’s happening.

This way of thinking drastically limits your sense of who, or what, you are. It reduces the scope of awareness that you have, that guides you through your day. Getting laid off from a job or contracting an illness might seem a few steps further removed – how could this possibly not be something out of your control? Well, it’s not about control. That’s the thing.

It’s about your concept of you, and of causality.

Nope, it doesn’t all make sense to me either, but it’s enough for me to stop and need a reality check.


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