We shape ourselves, our world, again and again. And again. The last thought shapes the next. One by one by one. Our minds fill the contours of what moves through them. The world tells us that what we just saw is indeed what we just saw. We can miss so much, but it doesn’t matter, for we are confirmed in our beliefs, our ideas, who we are.
Neuroscience shows us how this happens in the physicality of the brain. Neurons that fire together wire together. So goes the saying. Over and over we dig grooves. Have you ever found your car in the grooves of a highway. For some reason, I’ve experience this a lot in Oregon. They must have used a kind of soft asphalt. After millions of cars, there are little grooves. It can feel dangerous to pull out of them, to the left or right. It’s also dangerous to be in them. Especially when it rains. Our shaping happens through millions of thoughts. Funny thing is, chances are today’s thoughts are nearly identical to yesterday’s.
This not only literally shapes our brains, it literally shapes our world. We see what we saw yesterday. We aren’t likely to take in too much that’s new. Have you ever had something surprise its way into your awareness? Maybe you suddenly noticed a beautiful rose bush next to your bus stop, or a house with a lovely yard? It was there for years, but you just suddenly noticed it. It became a part of your world. So many things are like this. The pain of other people. The joy in a young person’s face. The loneliness of an old woman on the bus.
We are constantly shaping. But are we aware of how or are we paying attention to the ways we might put some intention behind it? This is an inquiry that I’m working with right now. How am I shaping things, and how do I want to shape them? Oh, and how does the way that I shape things influence the way that I want to shape them? Ha! It’s quite the rabbit hole, isn’t it?
One thing I know: I want to shape myself toward good. Which means shaping myself toward service.