Thursday, February 25, 2016

Frozen Thinking

Hola mi Gente,
Last night, a Black Lives Matter activist confronted presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, about her embrace of the myth and racist conservative dog whistle, the superpredator, and asked why she had never apologized. Hillary’s response? “No one ever asked before,” and then turning in a dismissive way and saying, “Now back to the issues.”
::blank stare::

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Photograph of Crashing Ocean Waves Frozen in Time by Pierre Carreau

Frozen Thinking

Convictions make convicts.
-- Robert Anton Wilson

When I came across the above quote and I had to laugh for several reasons. One is the simple but elegant truth of the words, another because I am a former “convict” -- a person who was formerly incarcerated I also like what the great French existentialist writer, Albert Camus, said about convictions -- something about not dying for them because he might be wrong.

I am struck by the sense I get from both quotes: that rigid thinking, or adhering to rigidly held beliefs, choke creativity. Oh yeah, did I mention I am obsessing about creativity? One common theme I hear coming up constantly is people’s need for more creativity -- especially in the realm of work and relationships.

I hear it from people all the time: how they wished they could work at jobs where creativity is valued, for example. The irony is creativity is a choice that is available anywhere at anytime under any circumstances. If I were to allow it (and sometimes I do), my work could quickly morph into a dry set of rituals of paperwork, data, and rote knowledge.

Anyway, in the past I have written about the “enlightened” or open heart. Today I am reflecting on the opened mind. I would say, and I think it would be correct, that when people think of the creative mind, they think of a mind full of ideas and brilliant new insights. My own experience tells me the creative mind is both full and empty. It is able to create within itself a space for the new to arise. A creative mindset is constantly opening itself to the internal and external world.

My experience of the opened mind is that it can be relaxed and playful. It is filled with curiosity and wonder. The opened mind has a childlike quality about it. It loves to go off the beaten track, to explore paths not taken by social convention. Playfulness is important. The opened mind likes to play with an idea or object, and enjoys looking at it as if for the first time. Try this one day: take a walk around your neighborhood and pretend you are a tourist. How does your perception of the mundane and “normal” things you see on an everyday basis change when you do this?

The opposite of that playful quality is what I call frozen thinking. Frozen thinking is what you get when you no longer think of possibilities: 

“This place sucks.”
“My life would’ve been so much better without you.”
“I’ll never succeed in this shit job.”

Frozen thinking deals in absolutes, there are few, if any, possibilities in frozen thinking and everything seems to be set in stone. Whenever someone begins a sentence with, You never… or You always... you can be sure you’re in the presence of frozen thinking. In short, frozen thinking is the sum of all our assumptions and beliefs about others and ourselves.

The open mind remains receptive to the possibility that we may not know everything there is to know -- and what we do know may be wrong. It challenges assumptions, makes new connections, finds new ways of perceiving the world. The opened mind can wander joyfully into areas others do not take seriously, and return with creations that must be approached in all seriousness.

Some of the most celebrated creative minds in history have allowed themselves to drift into dreams states and extended meditations during which they have played with the irrational, the symbolic, the metaphorical, and the mysterious. Often they have returned with images that they translate into scientific theories, musical compositions, and transformative social actions.

I would like to point out that people often mistake obsessive thinking with creativity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Creativity entails dropping the mental rumination. There’s a lot of letting go in the creative process -- a lot of “emptying out.” Creativity is about not thinking (in the conventional sense).

This is a scary journey into the unfamiliar for me, personally. There are times some discoveries are so strange that I want to cover them back up and run. Whether exploring the depths of the human soul or the depths of matter, artists, mystics, scientists, people like you and I, come face to face with chaos and disorder. Still, the enlightened mind thrives on this chaos, sees the emerging patterns, respects difference, and remains open to the paradox of life.

My name is Eddie and I'm in recovery from civilization... 

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