view of the pond in Winter

Learning to Look

Most of us like to portray ourselves as rational, clear thinking individuals, living beings with the freedom to function freely in our day to day activities.

But if we take a closer look we may find that from the day of our first breath upon this earth, we are moulded and conditioned into mentally assimilating other people's (friends and relatives) actions, views and opinions, and take for granted that what we are told and shown by our elders is in fact correct.  As a result, the greater part of who we think we are is, in reality, only a mass of contradictory statements, all grinding against one another causing a state of inner turmoil.

What we then become is likened to a vast and complex mirror jigsaw puzzle, in which every piece of the puzzle symbolizes a reflection, which gives an image of the way we perceive the world and people in it and also reflects how we believe people around us perceive us as individuals.

All the pieces combined reflect a highly complex, often irrational, and negative view of the way the so-called individual perceives his or her environment.  Often as a result of these many indecisive feelings and misunderstandings, an internal war is waged without the individual even realising, and nearly always has an effect on close friends and family.

The sheer mass of mostly useless contradictory information (mental garbage) being received, stored and used in our daily lives is slowly but surely suffocating our essential selves.  So we become victims of this onslaught of irrational paraphernalia, which turns us into actors playing out, hopefully appropriate, fantasy scripts in the hope of winning applause from those around us.

Unless something is done by the minority for the majority in the way of bringing to light certain aspects in self-awareness and the importance of discovering the true nature of ourselves, mayhem will continue to spread to all four corners of the globe.  Without inner stability and understanding of the self, which eventually brings about a state of serenity and balance within, there can be no lasting peace and understanding in our outer words and actions directed towards our fellow men and women. In order to fully communicate and acknowledge our true selves and the surrounding environment, we can try to do many things.  One can be to inspect and study each mirror image in the puzzle; we can do this by turning the whole image around mentally until we are faced with the puzzle in front of us - we can now get a good look at the kind of reflection it gives.  But wait, here comes the snag.  We must do it unbiasedly and honestly so that we see ourselves, not the way we want Mum and Dad to see us, or our best friends, or Sue the Barmaid, it must be witnessed in total truth the way it actually is or the image received will become blurred and misty.  To see ourselves clearly in such an unbiased way requires much personal strength.  Some may achieve a clearer reflection sooner than others and so go on to start the self-assessment with each piece of the puzzle; some may go a whole lifetime without any real understanding of themselves or their surroundings.  This may partly be due to the individual continuously defending his or her mistakes and rationalising wrongs, a chain of deceit exercised for our ego enlargement and protection.

We must try to take each piece of the puzzle and scrutinize it.  Don't be too harsh or severe, be gentle and fair and, as always, try to adopt a truly honest and positive approach.  Each piece in the puzzle holds many answers to many questions, so take time to learn about yourself and find out who you really are and what you really want.

As you work and build up the puzzle with new, cleaned, polished pieces you find as you get to know yourself, you will feel that there will be a new kind of happiness, an inner strength sweeping over you making you feel warm and comfortable with yourself.  But the road to that inner strength, the building of those strong foundations will sometimes be hard and arduous, a task which requires great patience with yourself, and much tolerance with the people around you, but it can also be a joyous task and each can achieve it if his heart can believe it and his mind can conceive it.

Lady Paddina Cole (1915-2003)