One thing that always fascinated me about the wind is how much it changes when you go higher. It’s like a whole other world at different altitudes: On the surface, the wind is generally slower. Higher up, it’s faster. Not only that, but the directions can completely change. I once learned that hot air balloons can use this to create round trips: They take off and travel in one direction, and then reach an altitude where the wind is literally going the other way, and use that opposing current to return to where they started from. Even in a sailboat, the wind is faster at the top of the sail than at the bottom, and sailors will “trim their sails” in order to catch the exact currents at each part of the canvas.
Following that stream of thought, I find it fascinating, too, that the mind also works in layers: As you go “deeper” into your thoughts, you can find not only extreme differences, but sometimes total changes of direction. Thoughts at different levels of the mind can sometimes completely contradict each other, not unlike the wind.
For example: At the outermost layer, we might find the “public story”. This is what we choose to tell everyone else, about why we do the things we do.
Underneath that, there’s the “private story”. This is the story we tell to ourselves - the reasons we ourselves want to believe, for why we do something.
And deeper still, there can be any number of additional layers.
But down at the core is the real reason why we do what we do, and it is often rather simple, and strongly tied to an emotion of some sort - like fear, anger, pleasure, or even convenience (which is actually also a kind of fear). These inner feelings can be very stealthy, and hard to uncover. Like rising in a hot air balloon and waiting for the view, they take time and patience to reach, not to mention some navigational skills. But they are well worth taking the time to see.
It’s so tempting to think that we are rational beings. We’ve been trying to convince ourselves of that for thousands of years. But even that story is a layer, and a very dangerous one. The truth is that our minds only just serve to excuse what we really want in our guts. Deep down inside us are the driving forces, which are emotional. We can justify our choices with anything from scientific analysis to abstract reasoning, to throwing our hands up in the air and saying that we “just have no choice”, to avoiding the conversation altogether - while still moving forward with our actions. But the real reasons are always underneath, where we don’t often look.
The nice thing about all this is that you are not obligated to tell anyone the real reasons why you do what you do. There is no cosmic law on disclosure.
But it can literally change your life if you can figure out the deepest layers for yourself, and find the real reasons for your choices - even just to know them, for yourself. Because the truth is that if you don’t really know, then you are driving with your eyes closed. And there is also a much bigger chance that later, you will regret your decisions.
I find that this is a constant battle with myself - to always figure out my real reasons. It’s like keeping your sails trimmed - it requires constant tending if you really want to reap the benefits. But like sailing, or hot-air ballooning, it’s much worth the effort. And you get better at it as you go.
I wish everyone good winds on your journey, and clear sailing :)
Photo by Timur Kozmenko, Pexels