Attentive Listeners (02/06/08)Third

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Attentive Listeners (02/06/08)Third

Post by anna »

To further record Dr. Swagger and my encounters with him:

I recall a very important moment with him, when he reported to me that he wanted to address my concerns that I might be “possessed”. I asked him where he got the idea that I thought that. He said I had told him so. I had absolutely no recollection of having said this to him, none whatsoever, and yet he reported to me that I had indeed said this to him. This was my first encounter with the interesting, and unique ability of a true listener to hear things that others have no consciousness of having said. In other words, we literally speak our innermost thoughts, but we are unaware of having done so. I still don’t know if this occurs consistently, to whomever it is that we speak, and the only reason few hear these words are that there are so few who know how to truly be attentive and listen, without the screen of preconceptions and assumptions. Or, is it instead, that there are individuals that are clear enough of those preconceptions, that the speaker feels safe, unconsciously, expressing her innermost thoughts, and thus says things to a true listener that they might not otherwise speak? Who knows the mechanics, I only know it occurs.

Actually, I believe it is the latter, because another event in my life, a while later, occurred to reveal to me, in very vivid detail, just how unconscious I was, despite my belief that I was fully and completely conscious in the waking state. I was adding up figures for the value of paintings for my grandmother, and upon checking the final figures, found a number of errors in my original figures. Now, I had checked and rechecked those original figures, and had typed them out several times with corrections – this was long before the word processor of computer, so errors had to be “whited” out, or re-typed. I realized that despite my focus, my attention, and my “good brain”, I had typed, re-checked, compiled, and calculated with errors that I was absolutely sure I had corrected. I was astonished and amazed to discover that despite that focus and attention, I was unconscious enough to miss the errors and to continue to miss them. I realized in that moment, which I had never realized before, that the brain and its mental gymnastics is not the reliable and consistently correct mechanism I had thought it was all my life, and on which I had depended all my life for my very survival and reality. It was a completely unique and instructive moment in my life.

This is similar in many ways to my first memory of my childhood. I must have been about 4 years old, maybe 3? I had, upon going to bed, decided that I would count to a million. So I proceeded to do so. To this day, I am convinced that I actually did count to a million, which of course, is absurd to the rational mind. The curious thing is that the certainty of the child is still the certainty of the adult. I can only conclude from this event that our mental concepts are indeed arbitrary, and not based on an external fact, but on our own subjectively created facts. What this says about rationality is enormous. Having always thought that humankind was a rational animal – we were always told that was so, weren’t we? – is another subject worth exploring, and one which today I have concluded is another myth by which we allow ourselves to be enslaved and used by a completely irrational and arbitrary “mind” composed of sometimes carefully chosen, but more often than not, randomly chosen, facts to compose our constantly evolving personalities.
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers........Wordsworth