“But I thought you…”

I think one of the greatest personal conflicts any of us has to face – and we do so on a regular basis – is the conflict between what we observe, and what we wish we would be observing.

We can’t help it – our perception of the world is constructed of models in our heads, shapes and cause-and-event chains that we guess at, that we make up, or that we hope for. This is how we allow ourselves to have a futures, hopes, and dreams. And sure as a McDonald’s shake doesn’t actually melt, we regularly come into proof positive that our guesses were wrong. We regularly encounter a contradiction between what we wanted to see and what we actually see.

On one hand, we could get resistant about it, and insist that other people and other phenomena obey our imaginations, and act the way we want. This rejects all souls but ours. That’s probably fine if you’re a country such as China, but without an arsenal of nuclear weapons at your disposal, us ordinary folks have to cope with the disjoint.

On the other hand, we could be all Super-Yoga-Zen-Power-Monkey and accept every moment purely and singularly as it is, being blissfully free of hopes and dreams and a sense of the future. This will kill the internal soul – the one that depends on those hopes and dreams, the one that needs a future.

The ticket, it seems, may lie in finding a way of creating a mental future, a model of those around us, and working with this in a relatively normal healthy way – but to have a tag attached mentally. This tag is a purely mental object that identifies the model as “hypothetical.” A guess. A cloud-shaped sketch where time will paint an actual picture soon.

“Guess” doesn’t have to mean it’s a bad guess. In fact, good guesses are their own rewards. The better off you are at guessing what’s going on in the near future, at guessing what the people around you are like, the more relaxing your life will probably be.

The best part is that as you observe people more, your guesses get better. An added bonus is that you can “cheat” by asking them. Most people are pretty good authorities on themselves.

This keeps your mental crashes few and mild. You probably want that.

(I also want to be Super-Yoga-Zen-Power-Monkey, but that comes later, right?)