To answer this question we must first look at one of humanity’s biggest dreams. Our creative minds have been fantasising about inventing the time machine for decades. What if I told you that time travelling is real and it’s something that everyone has already been doing for a while?
The reason why in all the animal kingdom humans have made it to the top of the food chain is because at some early point in evolution we suffered a mutation that caused our brains to develop faster from survival mode to reasoning mode.
This process eventually led us in creating and developing a second thinking pattern. Like a backup for our active brains, we called this second one the subconsciousness. This one runs 24/7 in passive mode even when we sleep.
This is great because now we could learn from our past mistakes and even anticipate future events. What evolution didn’t take into account was that this upgrade was still being built on our prehistoric “survival mode” brains.
When you couple survival mode with reliving the mistakes of the past you get depression. It hooks you to replaying past events over and over again, always hoping for a restart. When you couple survival mode with anticipating future events you get anxiety. It splits you in multiple stories all at once, hoping to take the best decision possible.
When this happens, an unexpected guest invites himself to the party.
The mind always seeks to escape the present moment because it’s uncomfortable, it’s unpredictable. Our survival mode instinct dictates that unpredictability is not good in assuring the continuity of our genes.
To the Ego, the present moment hardly even exists. When you identify with your Ego you have a compulsive need to live only in your memories or in anticipation.
It is only preoccupied with time travelling.
Ego likes keeping the past alive, because without the past who are you in fact? It gives you an identity, either good or bad, that takes away your attention of living in the moment.
“I’ve only failed until now. So why bother at all?”
“I’ve succeeded in everything I set my mind to so far. But this next goal I’m going to decline because it’s too big. I might fail and then what will people think of me?”
“There is no one out there for me. All my past partners were weird. I’m perfect”
“I’m just not as lucky as everyone else”
To trap you for good, the Ego also projects itself into the future. This way it ensures it’s continued survival by trying to rationalise the unknown. It promises you salvation by anticipating the possibility of failure. Why explore real life when you can play infinite scenarios in your head over and over again like game simulations?
“You can choose from A, B, C. All of them have potential but you might waste a great amount of time down the road and there’s no promise of success. Choose wisely!”
“How about you start worrying right now about events that have not yet happened. You know, just to be prepared ahead.”
“Check your phone every 2 minutes. You don’t want to miss out on something important.”
“Don’t talk to that person in the bus station. They might yell and call you creep.”
It’s all an illusion. You cannot cope with something that is only a projection of your mind. Imagine that instead of playing your favourite song you are always pressing the rewind or fast forward button. It steals the pleasure you get from listening to the song in the first place.
Ego will tell you that you can’t ever get any better than your past identity so why bother trying? It will also tell you that based on your past achievements you should slack off now. Ego will tell you that your goals are too big and scary. Pursuing them will lead you to fail miserably. You don’t want to ruin whatever pride you have built up all these years. It can also make you overconfident and entitled to something that you don’t even want in the first place. Your life’s journey is no longer an adventure. It becomes just an obsessive craving to attain something, to get someone, to arrive somewhere.
Your journey has a destination but it also has a path. When you arrive at your destination you accomplish what you set out to do. But if you focus too much on your destination, you take attention away from the steps that you are taking now. You completely miss the awareness of where you are. If you miss your destination you might hide back in your past identity just to have something familiar to help you cope with the discomfort.
The key to escaping Ego is to step out of the time machine. Live in the now. Embrace uncertainty. This is way cooler than time travelling because it allows you the freedom to explore, to make mistakes, to learn, to connect.
The magnificent artist does not hide in his past success nor does he fear creating 100 new mediocre pieces before making the next masterpiece. He just creates. Focus on the moment, surrender your full attention to it and you might discover what others before you have missed.
Thoughts are always changing. They are stuck in time. They come and go.
You are the experience you are creating in this instant. You are the magic of every moment you live with full intent. In the absence of time, your identity is derived from being, not from personal past or the projection of the future. Don’t focus too much on the process. Instead, be the process. You are here for a reason, you are in flow with the world — you are present.
It’s the best gift you could ever ask for.
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