Closing the door on the world

Bill-newby L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.
Reverberations abound in life.  I’ve learned the only way to hear what is in your head is to close the door on the world.  If it sounds precipitous, it is!  The epiphany however was anything but abrupt.  As with everything else I have embraced on the road to perfection, learning to heed my own voice was a prolonged and painful ordeal.  It was prolonged for the very reason it should not have been – namely, I persisted in imagining that the opinion of others mattered.  This may sound harsh and perhaps arrogant but it is nothing more than a logical conclusion.  Deferring to others’ opinions, even if worthy, is a poor compass for behaviour.  One may as well bounce off  posts to get where one is going.  Certainly there can be advantage to listening to others; but until those thoughts are digested their value is temporary at best.  You have to hear it in your own head if it is to have any authenticity; the enlightenment must spring from within not otherwise.

Turning inward was for me a matter of some considerable practice. Being governed by one’s own views was never something which had been recommended to me; in fact I was rather encouraged to seek the advice of more learned people.  Oddly in spite of its inherent value listening to one’s self is a technique which normally escapes either discussion or affirmation; proof of yet another gap in our personal eduction.  I essentially stumbled upon the device after having exhausted the alternative or at least after having run out of luck with it.  It is for example very confusing to allow one’s self to be persuaded by the opinions of others as those reasons are often not even articulated.  Frequently we simply imagine what others are thinking and allow that to influence us.  This is treading on some seriously precarious territory!  When it doesn’t work out, we find ourselves pointing an accusatory finger at the other, suggesting “You thought I should do so and so!” or “You were thinking such and such!” These accusations are nothing but failed attempts at mind reading; and they are a fortiori guaranteed even further to be failures at instructive guidance.

Becoming introverted about one’s thoughts is actually quite stabilizing.  It has at least  the advantage of removing a multiplicity of variables which of course eliminates a great deal of ambiguity. It forces you to get in touch with yourself and thereby sanctions what one believes, very often a good thing. Even more importantly it removes the perpetual doubt about what one is thinking.  Let’s face it, except for the doubt sown by the perceived opinions of others, we are normally quite clear about our own take on a matter. We are therefore bound to do whatever we can to put our thoughts into terms that we can fully absorb and articulate (if only to ourselves).

The effect of this is to put distance between one’s self and others.  We mustn’t lean on others for any reason even if the objective is disguised as an attempt to understand another person. This is a round about way of saying we must learn to stand on our own two feet!  Once we satisfy ourselves as to our own perceptions we are thus armed with the mechanics to take a stand and to move forward.  To confound our daily dilemmas by pretending to accommodate what we imagine to be the opinions of others is not only logically unsound, it also puts us in the position of founding strategy upon mere speculation.

By listening to the words in one’s own head we avoid the fiction of fathoming the minds of others.  And who can find fault with a person who follows his beliefs?  Certainly there can be subsequent modification when faced with contradiction from another but at least it will be the evolution of thought based upon more than conjecture.