Decades ago when I was first learning to drive, one of the first things my driving instructor cautioned me about as soon as I got behind the wheel was that I would instinctively drive towards wherever I was looking. His words of warning have stayed with me over the years not only as an instruction for driving, but as an instruction for living.
One of the challenges we face in our society is that we are constantly bombarded by the news media with stories of catastrophe and violence that draw our attention towards an image of a world fraught with danger. Sure there is danger, that’s part of life. But there is also exquisite beauty, miraculous possibilities, innumerable instances of goodwill, heroic compassion, and just simple kindness.
When we believe that the world is an ugly and dangerous place, then that is the world that we inhabit in our minds, and the more attention we give something, the more we attract it into our lives.
This is the case not only for the individual, but for the collective as well, which is why I believe that all the stories of apocalypse that seem to be all the rage these days are unhelpful. They train our imaginations to expect a certain kind of future, one of widespread devastation and suffering, and if that is the future we imagine for ourselves, then that’s the direction we will instinctively steer towards. If, instead, we set our attention on possibilities and kindness and beauty, then that is the world we will inhabit in our minds, and it will be the future we create for ourselves.
Many years ago, while I was on spiritual retreat I had a dream. It was short, consisting only of a question posed to me and my answer. The question seemed to be coming from an entity beyond this world who was asking me about my experience of having visited this planet, as though my life had just come to an end and I was being asked, as I departed, what I had witnessed.
The question it asked me was, “Did you see minotaurs?” (In Greek mythology, if you recall, the Minotaur was a ferocious, fearful, human-devouring creature that had a body of a man and a head of a bull.)
I replied, “No. I saw crystals, and a star on the rainbow of life.” The feeling that accompanied my response was one of awe and amazement at the astonishing beauty of what I had seen.
That is indeed what I hope my response can be when I conclude my time on Earth, that I saw on this fragile, glorious planet beauty and possibility, that I saw a star on the rainbow of life.
How about you? What are you steering yourself towards, the minotaurs or the rainbows? It’s an important question that can make all the difference in the world, because as they say, what you see is what you get.