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Open Questions

The quote at the bottom of this post resonates directly with one of the most important aspects of living a human life: awareness of the space in-between.

In my late teens and early twenties, I showed clear evidence of an innate curiosity—an interest, or pull, to investigate the subtler aspects of existence unfazed by time. Unfortunately, the outward manifestation of pliant thoughtfulness was unmistakably absent. It wasn’t until after divorce, depression and recovery that the notion of “open questioning” became evident: (a concept my ex, now my best friend, tried for years to engage with me). As if a veil were lifted, the futility of demanding answers seemed burdensome in comparison to ‘being’ (in) the unfolding. Conversation for its own sake became an answer, rather than expecting myself to have a resolution before engaging in discourse. I also learned that concrete conclusions aren’t necessarily required from every discussion.

The habit of self-enquiry rooted itself during a trip to Tiruvannamalai, India. (To be clear, self-enquiry is not bound to, or by, any particular spiritual or religious practice. I just happen to find that the pointers given by Sri Ramana Maharshi and Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj speak directly to how I experience the world.) Imagine my joy to read the same encouragement to observe life in a book about fungi! (Reference to quote below.)

What I find fascinating is that the ‘invitation to regard’ constantly exists. Nature is a beloved teacher for me, as are dogs. They remind me how to just be and experience life as it is, noticing exquisite, even ethereal, movements. Certainly, in our world, it’s rather necessary to make plans but that doesn’t exclude paying attention to life, which only ever exists in the now.

The second part of the quote below addresses a trap created by the mind itself. The mind is a useful tool, no doubt, but in its constant attempt to find patterns and define efficient pathways it creates ruts. These grooved roads easily become deep trenches that limit our ability to see outside the norm. Some people find the saying “keep your options open” to be rather non-committal. I prefer to look at it as allowing myself to see more colours and hear more bird songs as I walk through the forest. Heck, I might as well enjoy the entire wooded expanse as I breathe in its terpenes.

Not all is rosy for me. I also fight an internal current of dystopia. But through observation, the tendency for cynicism has morphed into a less furrowed emotion of sadness aided by an illuminating question, “What can I do right now to positively influence at least this little part of the world around me?”

With this, I offer you the quote below and another question; Can you let go of your preprocessed viewpoints and beliefs to peer upon the movements in and of life from a different panorama?

❝ It’s not always easy to be comfortable in the space created by open questions. …It’s tempting to hide in small rooms built from quick answers.

It takes less cognitive effort to make sense of the world using preconceived images updated with a small amount of new sensory information than to constantly form entirely new perceptions from scratch.❞
~Merlin Sheldrake, Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures

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