The Windmills of my Mind

Aug 12, 2013 by

The Windmills of my Mind

So I’m off on an adventure, traveling the globe with a specific destination in mind: Africa: The plains of Kenya and Tanzania and the mountain jungles of Uganda. But I’m not really exploring the terrain and creatures living in the jungle and on the plains, although I will definitely encounter and engage with many different species, both human and otherwise.

What I’m really exploring when I travel is inside my mind. I’m exploring the regions of my mind that keep my feet in the same spot they have been for a while. I’m trying to let the gears of my mind roam free and dislodge the muck and mire of my own and other’s notions. I’m desperately trying for a moment to be free of the maps I’ve drawn in my mind that shut me down. I’m trying to free myself from my mind and be completely alive.

What does it mean to be alive? It means to be open: Open to new ideas. Open to new thoughts, new conventions, to let go of what you think is all the answers. Letting go of my assumptions of what is right, what is possible, what is accepted, what I should be doing. To let go of the daily cacophony of noise that fills my room and keeps me moving in the same old direction. And it’s simple things that make an impact. For example, did you know that getting an Ice Tea in the Heathrow airport in London is virtually impossible? What I was so sure was a simple request has suddenly become a major challenge. What I thought was part of the maps of my life (that Ice Tea would always be there simply within my reach) evaporated with a simple plane ride.

Staying in the same spot for too long will dull your senses. It will provide you the illusion that all the answers you have come up with are the right answers. I’ve said it many times: “A better question is more important than the right answer. Because it is usually and right answer to the wrong question.” So the question is not “how can I get the Ice Tea I’m used to”, the better question is “what are the drinks in this place now.”

Find and surround yourself with people who have better questions. Surround yourself with people who don’t carry prejudice (they haven’t pre-judged people, places, or things). Prejudice freezes your ability to live. It is the opposite of alive. We are not born with prejudices, we are open and free. We are taught pre-judgment by the tastes of others given to us. Better questions force you to burn the maps in your mind and explore the forbidden, the unknown, the taboo. The questioning forces you to be intelligent, to explore with curiosity and go wrong many many times until the truth starts to reveal itself. Not because you became and explorer and found it, but because you let go of your old world and became awash in a new one.

So here is my question: “What old world beliefs create the maps and windmills of your mind?” What if you didn’t have access to the Ice Tea of your day, how would things change? What if suddenly your professional career evaporated? What if your family didn’t know you? What if you couldn’t get your Ice Tea? Would you be better? Would you change? Would you suddenly explore a new terrain and map of your mind? Do it. Let go of something. Something simple but something that you cling to, and see where you end up on the African plains of your life.

See you on the wire

— Steven Cardinale

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