“It is the task of the enlightened not only to ascend to learning and to see the good but to be willing to descend again to those prisoners and to share their troubles and their honors, whether they are worth having or not. And this they must do, even with the prospect of death.”
Plato, The Allegory of the Cave
I walk through life facing backward, buffeted by events that I can and cannot anticipate. My belief, in thinking I can control the future, is an illusion – fate dictates my destiny regardless of my intentions.
My actions are the equivalent of throwing seeds over my shoulder, hoping that they will grow as I want. In the end, my efforts to bring balance to my life are best spent on managing my reaction to life’s anticipated and unanticipated buffets, and only then on ordering my thoughts and actions.
I am constantly being influenced by the external environment. It is those inputs, mediated by my instinctual/emotional response that unconsciously drives my thoughts and eventual actions. In order to truly gain control of my life, I need to manage my reactions, recognizing the emotional triggers that influence my thoughts and eventual actions.
The external environment is constantly peppering me with inputs, that my monkey mind perceives as threats or immediately desirable events. Recognizing and separating actual physical threats, immediate or deferred, from threats to my self-image is the key to controlling my eventual thoughts and actions. In this regard, the Cynics were on to something, though I would not agree with their disregard of the need to fit into society.
In other words, focusing on properly recognizing and reacting to life’s inputs, is as or more important and productive than trying to manage the outputs. I will work to recognize and not let the seeds of undesirable thoughts and actions gain root in my mind, so I will have less weeding to do in the future.