How Tiny We Can Be…

Years ago, I was shopping for a new computer, and the salesman proudly pointed out that the one on sale had a “turbo” setting. I asked what that was. He said, “If you press that button, the computer’s, like, on turbo.”

“Meaning what?”

“Meaning–” He shrugged. “It uses more of its ram and stuff–so it goes faster than it would ordinarily.”

“Why,” I asked, genuinely puzzled, “would anyone want a computer that doesn’t always go its fastest? Why wouldn’t you have the button pressed all the time? Why not just have the computer built to work at its fastest setting?”

He stared at me. He blinked. He looked at the computer. Finally he admitted, “I don’t know.” (And in fact those “turbo” buttons vanished from computers in short order, as the same question occurred to a lot of people.)

I’ve been trying to discover if there’s a turbo button, anyway, for my own brain. I mean one that doesn’t require damaging drugs, or drugs at all. I know from my own experience in life that I’m often not using my entire mind, my whole self, all my “ram” and presence to make a decision. In fact, if I’m on the narrow-gauge default setting in my life I don’t exactly make decisions–I just lurch from one choice into the next. It’s as if I’m a tiny person, a fraction of what I could be. If I make a decision under those conditions it’s based on a very narrow gauge of input. So, in my life, I’ve made a lot of errors. I think we’re all prone to this, but certain factors made me especially prone to it. I didn’t start working seriously on learning to make conscious decisions till I was about 38. I’m starting to get the hang of it now–a long time later. Habits, you see, have momentum, inertia, their own entrenched pathways. They can be hard to escape…

The author and professor, Jacob Needleman said (I paraphrase) that it’s a poor life that’s lived in only a small part of oneself.

Too often, we’re only using a small part of ourselves–”Oh no he’s going to talk about that discredited ‘we only use a small part of our brain’ idea!” Nope, I definitely don’t mean that. That cliche has been debunked. We do use all our of our brain, at some point.

No, I’m talking about the incorporation of my full presence, my self in the higher sense, my mind and my awareness of my emotions and my body, all in one.

if I strive to be completely there, in that sense, then when I come to a personal crossroads I make better choices. If I incorporate as much of myself as possible, I’m not spurred by impulse, by some tiny part of myself. Certainly not by “the little head”; not by vanity alone, not by blind desire, not by mere appetite, not by some lashing out in anger. If I incorporate as much of my full self as possible, suddenly it’s as if I’m inhabiting my entire self for the first time. There’s a distinct feeling of emerging from a tiny, stifling cubby hole. Data, input, information, sensation, feelings, flood over me, and take their place.

No turbo button needed.

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