4 June 2023

Momentous conversations

Eureka insights, tunnel vision focus and saying yes

These are the ones that stick with you for a long time after the original date of occurrence.

Perhaps these could also be labelled as an ‘Aha moment’ — where some significant fragment of insight reveals itself away from all the other shards. But such a label could create a misleading impression, that such epiphanies are the result of planned deliberation or ‘strategy’.

It’s surprising how the things we so desperately need often appear during moments when we are not actively in pursuit.

This can occur in the most mundane experiences, like standing in a queue with a good friend, or walking side by side along some obscure street or when facing one another over the shared experience of a meal.

I have no idea why this might be the case, but one possible hypothesis could be that there are moments of insight constantly happening around us all of the time, but the majority of these signals get disrupted by a lack of attunement to all that is incoming.

It sounds so simple, right? All that there is to do in order to be exposed to a higher frequency of insight is to… simply listen and observe more?

In reality, this is a high standard to reach for, particularly when we adopt tunnel vision focus towards some objective marker, of being in pursuit of some predetermined and specific end.

It is the predetermination, the acceptance of some particular set of assumptions, that makes it so easy to disregard the vibrancy of information that reality presents us with in the everyday moments as we move about in the world.

When we say ‘yes’ to engaging in the pursuit of some specific end it also means that we are saying ‘no’ to the remaining spectrum of parallel possibilities that branch off the path that we have chosen.

And the risk in such an approach is that we become too rigid, too confident in the predetermined assumptions, that we lean towards believing that reality has no more to teach us. The reality that looks like random chit chat with a friend while waiting in a queue together. The reality that looks like a younger, more inexperienced stranger cleanly articulating a point of view that you would have near-zero chance of encountering otherwise. The reality that looks like aimless and slow-paced wandering through familiar streets.

What, then, should we do with all of this? Perhaps, instead of venturing forward with the primary expectation of only experiencing what is ‘momentous’, there may very well be a depth of intrinsic value underneath the surface of plain old ‘experience’ —  each and every episode an end in itself.

Only a few days ago, the afternoon sun would have been a source of cheer, a bright ray of hope shedding nourishing warmth on the rice plants and pretending good weather for the morrow.

As for the flies, when his sweat had attracted them while he worked in the fields, he had taken the view that they were only going about their chores, just as he was going about his. He had even regarded them as fellow creatures.

Now, having crossed one wide river and entered the maze of the city, he found the heat of the sun anything but comforting, the flies only an irritation

— Eiji Yoshikawa