I watched a TedX talk yesterday evening and was struck by the simplicity of the speaker’s logic – so much so that I was compelled to spend some time reflecting on it – and write.
Dave Crowe is a Beatboxer. He creates absolutely amazing sounds and rhythms with just his voice. He starts off his talk with a demonstration of his talents but emphasises that beatboxing is by no means the emphasis of his talk. I suspect the demonstration was to grab the attention of the audience in the hope that the effectiveness of what followed would be optimised. I was ‘all ears’ when the rapturous applause from the audience subsided.
Dave’s talk focuses on the fact that regardless of where we are in life, we have the power in our mind’s to overcome any obstacle. We have the freedom to imagine who we want to be and how to go about getting there.
Realising our full potential
Unfortunately it appears that the human condition often renders us lazy in our efforts to become a better version of ourselves. We may be in a relationship which has become stagnant and is no longer growing – as we first hoped. We may be in a dissatisfying job which is paying the bills and keeping a roof over our heads. There are any number of ‘life states’ we can find ourselves in, which are holding us back from realising our full and true potential and it is typically fear of the unknown that prevents us from making the decision to change. But, it is this decision which we must make to start moving forward again.
So, how do we overcome the obstacle of fear to reach the decisions we ultimately must make? In my estimation, it’s actually quite easy, assuming you have already reached that point where you are consciously (and sometimes painfully) aware that change needs to happen. Just do it! Make the decision and damn the consequences, no matter how afraid you may be of the unknown! Many years ago, a poet friend of mine entitled a collection of her work ‘The Bright Unknown’ after I mentioned in conversation that the most exciting aspect of life is the unknown future. I had asked why anyone would be bothered allowing their life to be limited by fear of the future when the best way to approach the unknown should always be with excitement, enthusiasm and, most importantly in my opinion, expectation of a good, even better, outcome.
Far be it for me to start hypothesising about the difficulties in which complete strangers may find themselves embroiled. I can only honestly refer to my own experiences in the hope that they are somewhat typical of what others have already or will, in the future, go through.
The curve balls of life
The central tenet of Dave’s talk is that, at the end of the day, our minds are running the show. If we can take control of our minds we can take control of every single aspect of our lives – and achieve ‘freedom’. I have found that this is often easier said than done. Life has a habit of throwing curve balls at us when we least expect them. Quite possibly the worst of these balls is mental illness. I have often said I would take a broken leg or dodgy heart over mental illness – any every day of the week. Physical ailments are exactly that – physical and can be ‘lived with’ and somewhat minimised by a mind that is strong. However, mental illness often steals from us the capacity to cope with even the smallest of occurrences, much less – small or larger controversies.
The experts will tell you that the last thing you should be doing while suffering from mental illness is making life-changing decisions. I agree. Such decisions require assimilation of all the relevant facts, hypothesis about the potential outcomes and lucid evaluation – to verify that the final decision is correct. These processes are difficult enough on an average day but become virtually impossible, I would suggest, for someone suffering from an illness of the mind.
A computer that has been infected with a virus can no longer be trusted until such time as the virus has been removed. In the same way we should not trust our minds until such time as the mental illness has been overcome, or at least minimised to the extent that some semblance of normal function has resumed.
Patience and healing
If freedom is to be achieved, the mind must first be strong – strong enough to withstand the inevitable curve balls and strong enough to follow the processes which comprise good decision-making. If the mind is not strong, then the priority must be to wait until such time as it is. At that point, Dave Crowe’s freedom becomes attainable and the future once again becomes bright.