I woke up in North Wales this morning and listened to Anil Seth talking about how the brain hallucinates reality. https://www.ted.com/talks/anil_seth_how_your_brain_hallucinates_your_conscious_reality/up-next
I’m on my phone as usual so can’t link it normally. It’s a strong talk, delivered with assurance. It chimes with a lot of the work I’ve been doing with myself recently regarding patterns in my life, manifestations and boundaries. I’ve been thinking about the power of our own self-perception. How we can think the world better or worse for ourselves. I feel there’s a lot to be considered in that.
Having grown up with vast privilege, and living in a lovely flat that I didn’t earn, I’ve been consciously and unconsciously running masochism on myself for years which I’m trying to derail. I’ve had so much without deserving. I see other people from similar privilege thoughtlessly making value judgements about people who have not. I hate that, but I’ve come to the conclusion that as a result I’ve been unconsciously doing what I can to make things hard for myself. I’ve been self-sabotaging on a monumental scale for upwards of a decade, since my mum died. This habit has culminated in a week of working in constant pain on something I don’t care about miles away from home. My best friend sat down with me and passionately asked me not to do it before I even broke my rib, and I still went ahead with it. And then I had a horrible time. Plus I repeatedly forgot to bring painkillers to my long shifts, got into a power struggle with my manager which ended badly, and generally did everything I possibly could to make things even harder for myself. Looking at it forensically, it’s obvious I was on a mission to make things unpleasant for myself. I even had work that I turned down in London, and clashed with my agent about being away. Coming off the job, I messaged a confidante to tell her I’d done it again, I’d put myself through something I didn’t want to for reasons I couldn’t fathom. Her response was “That’s what you do.” No. It’s not, any more. Now it’s what I used to do.
As I said previously, if the head is sick the body follows. My unpleasant manager – he was insecure and he made the whole place nastier for everyone working there. If insecure people are at the top, insecurity is the benchmark. If cruel people are at the top, cruelty is the benchmark. Same with kind people. And the kind people have to start fighting. We have to fight using the nerves of the insecure and the entitlement of the cruel, but keeping the compassion that we get for free.
So this is a message to myself and all the people who think of themselves as kind out there: Get into the struggle! You have the tools. You deserve as much as the people you think of as entitled. You can prove yourself as much as the people you think of as insecure. Get in and stick in and use compassion. Get yourself to the head, so the body is kinder. Fight your kind corner. Fight hard and honest. Stand up and be counted. Lead. And keep your kindness while leading.
So that’s where I’ve been at today. Driving through Wales, this magical ancient kingdom, thinking about our identity towards ourself, about the potentialv we have to change who we think we are, about the need for a rise of kindness. Look at the leadership examples in plain sight. Over here, it’s someone panicky and insecure ducking questions and arbitrating. Over there, it’s someone cruel and entitled smashing things and normalising ignorance. Things are getting way too unkind. Kindness can lead, and has changed the world before countless times. But the people at the top get to dictate how things are done and their opinions are going to be determined by their proclivities. So let’s get to the top and be fucking lovely people. That’s how we stop this shit.
As I was having all these thoughts I drove out of a small Welsh village in a 40 mile an hour zone. Glancing in my rear view mirror I distinctly recall seeing a traffic cop with a speedgun point at the back of my car and then look at the top of his gun. “Fuck,” I said to Tristan. “I think that guy just got me.” (Obviously I wasn’t driving over the speed limit, I never break the law. I just don’t like being recorded. etc. This blog is a work of fiction.) Tristan said “It’s a scarecrow, you idiot.” I knew it wasn’t. I had seen him. He was male, and slightly overweight. And he definitely moved as I watched him, to look at his reading. I had only perceived him for a second but I had definitely seen all of that. For certain.
We turned round and I drove back round the corner into that village punctiliously observing the speed limit. This is what I saw:
The brain hallucinates reality. I saw him move. I had an idea of what he looked like. Be kind, play to win on your own terms, and don’t let your own proclivities sabotage your chances of happiness.