|Jimmy Corrigan by Chris Ware.|
I picked Jimmy Corrigan as this week's poster boy for his "smartest kid in the world" title without any connection to his story. If interested, please read the article at the link, above.
And I will also use myself as a stand-in for the rest of humanity, speaking of my experience, trusting that it is more universal.
A closed mind in a hamster wheel, a spinning treadmill from which I would never escape IF I stayed there without allowing in light, air and other possibilities. I can suffocate myself with narrow, pinched thinking. I, and I assume many of us, am not the best judge of my better aspects. Too often I fail to find any finer points when I bolt the doors, pull the blackout curtains and burrow into my obvious and plentiful, as I believe, shortcomings. This happens most often under stress and when tired.
With some rather limited experience of meditation, I know how a quiet mind feels, what it says - or doesn't say. The agitated mind is a liar, perhaps out of malice, perhaps simply from fatigue. It, in my case, has compiled evidence of insufficiency in pretty much all areas. Viewing the documents in the case, my spirits sag lower still. The evidence is so compelling.
But wait! Put the focus elsewhere, like, say, sinking into an interesting movie or book, seeing the world with a refreshed perspective. It actually feels as though louvers have opened in my temples, allowing refreshing breezes in, letting stale notions escape, certainly thinning the noxious gasses they produce. With a brain open to the winds and the world, I feel so much more connected to all that is not me. I gain a sense of being part of a vast and benevolent entity in which good thoughts prevail, in which "thank you" becomes a mantra, in which unseen hands are joined in fellowship.
A widened mind is not so much the product of being really smart as it is about being open. I thrive on ideas that are not just self-generated. Like when somebody forgets to change the water in the fish bowl, things grow slimy, murky and, let's face it, deadly. I remind myself, or outside forces remind me, to unlatch the windows, to grab the broom and sweep away sour opinions. Perfection is neither a reasonable nor attainable goal, but expanded thinking is, a practice that lets me see myself as more than I seem. We are here to be, I believe, the best versions of ourselves, something we find through being connected to each other and the infinite in which we dwell.