Friday, September 23, 2011

Becoming Us - Part Two

Following the previous post which was a personal journey, in this post, John O'Donnell explores the metaphysical journey of "becoming" us as human beings. 
This article is nothing short of a fascinating discovery on how our thought-process work and I hope you will enjoy it.

“The State of Becoming”
What are you thinking of at this precise moment? The answer, according to some who study the mind, is nothing, because thought is a process, a becoming, not a thing that exists instantaneously. To think of an apple, for example, a number of simultaneous streams of information must come together and interact in our brains, information about its shape, its texture, its colour, information about the word "apple" itself and all the things we associate with it - trees, orchards and so on. All these pieces of information are stored in different parts of the brain and take time to communicate and interact with each other. There is no precise moment when the thought "apple" appears. Instead the thought is smeared out over time with no precise beginning or end.
And so it is with all out thoughts and our lives. We are always in a state of "becoming", moving from one state to the next, constantly changing and evolving. The change is sometimes so gradual that we do not notice it but eventually we realise that we have stopped being one thing and have become something else. Is there anything solid and unchanging in all this flux? Maybe so, if we change our perspective.
Another idea, popular among scientists, is that the flow of time is an illusion. That this "now" is no different to all the other past and future "nows"  and in fact all past and future events are "just there" in space-time, existing statically, on an equal footing, outside of time.
I imagine space-time as like a rich persian carpet where each of our lives is an individual  motif, somewhere on it. One particular definition of motif from Wikipedia seems to fit the bill: "a recurring element or fragment that, when joined together, creates a larger work".  But, unlike a real carpet, no two motifs are the same, we weave our own threads to create something individual that will never be repeated.
Some motifs are complicated, others are simple but each has its own beauty and contributes to the overall pattern. Each motif is finite as otherwise it would destroy the overall beauty , so our lives must be finite with a beginning and an end. Perhaps the pattern only becomes clear when seen as a whole. Because we are part of it, we are too close to see its beauty, like trying to understand a painting by methodically examining each square inch with a microscope. So we often struggle to find meaning in our lives.
The motifs do not stand alone but are connected by multiple threads to each other, these are our connections with family and friends. Each motif is echoed by simpler versions of itself in other parts of the carpet, these are the memories that people have of us that live on after we die. And the moment of death is just another point in the pattern. The motif that is our life can never be erased. It remains frozen, our contribution to the pattern of life.

Thank you John for sharing this article with us.

Do you  feel yourself evolving and changing as a whole? Or do you feel that you are changing one motif at a time?


  1. This is mind boggling stuff. I have always thought that there are different dimensions going on all round us.
    I like to think deeply at times and this is thought provoking.

    Many thanks for visiting me .
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  2. It's all a great mystery, one full of surprises and magic!

    Very interesting piece!