Friday, 29 December 2017

The "bootstrap" model of the human mind

As most of you have surmised, I had a breakdown recently. Recent events, including those of my own making, had me in a tail-spin about the nature of my existence, my unfulfilled expectations, and how I've reacted badly to certain things that all human beings confront at some point in their lives.

I've spent the last decade plus, thinking a certain way, always with a shadow of a doubt and uncertainty, hoping against hope (simply because I had no other choice), that I would be reunited with my estranged daughter. This uncertainty has always been a source of my sometimes debilitating bouts of depression.

Having temporarily lost all semblance of rationality, I have confronted the utter meaninglessness of life in the Buddhist sense of the word.

See, we all go through life accumulating and assessing and reassessing the veracity of our realities and we act "accordingly"; we expect the world to have certain qualities that make our lives tolerable even when confronted in-our-face by the possibilities that only we are responsible for wrestling down the "meaning of life" and that reality will be there regardless of our stumbles and falls.

Over the last few days I've come to realize that reality has no such obligations to us. Of course we believe that it has certain qualities like 'love', 'courage', 'integrity', etc. if only to stave off the negative aspects to what we consider 'virtue' (ie, not as opposed to 'vice' but as characteristics we admire in others and want for ourselves and the world).

We talk about and celebrate greatness in our fellow human beings and their great accomplishments, some of whom are long dead. This forms part of our sense of ourselves. I do not deny the fact that I have a choice - and I think that this is what saves me from myself even in the aftermath of my rage (and I'm very much prone to losing my temper especially when frustrated by my loved ones).

But this "choice" really is a bootstrap model of my mind. My mind literally pulls itself up by the bootstraps and constructs my realities, and sometimes deconstructs my realities (which is a positive when I think in a new way).

I have found that reality really has nothing to do with my sense of self and what I think I can and have contributed to my fellow-humans. I am no more 'special' than the millions of baby sea turtles that die off before reaching maturity.

I think that I still have something special to contribute if not to my family and loved ones than to the larger world, but, as much as I love the prospect of helping, the germination and fruition of my ideas are not a given any more than I now know that I'm the product of tenacious grasping at straws but whose final end I do not know.

Jay

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