Oh, if life were made of moments
Even now and then a bad one—!
But if life were only moments,
Then you’d never know you had one.
— Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods
Many people I talk with believe strongly in manifestation. This is the practice of making a thing come true by believing in it, talking about it, visioning it on a board.
Here’s what I believe: The concept of manifestation may be beneficial but there is no one to one correlation between correct thinking and desired outcome. I believe there are many paths, and that the reason one has a thing or achieves a thing (or don’t) is not traceable to whether or not one has done correct manifestation.
Certainly, the mind has power. The power I’m certain the mind has is the power to choose a response. I can decide if a crisis is devastating or enhancing. I can decide if I’m enjoying the perfect date or destroy the intimacy my partner has sought to create. I tell myself stories all day long about what other people are thinking, and I get to decide whether these are fairy tales or disaster stories.
(Of course, I can always ask questions, and see if the story I hear gibes with the story in my head. That’s one way I know truth.)
I can decide if I’m bored or not; there is no substance to the quality of “boring,” only a response. Boredom comes from thwarted desire, from wanting something other than what is in front of you, and it can be countered by shifting your attitude. That’s why sitting in a waiting room can be an adventure, and taking a trip to a new place can feel dull.
A moment can be a better or worse moment depending on what I think of it. This does not mean I can stop someone from torturing me or save someone from being tortured by using my mind. I go to torture because it’s both outside of my experience and something I don’t feel entirely comfortable explaining to people who may have experienced it.
I am a fan of Viktor Frankl, who was able to make meaning out of his experience in Auschwitz. He learned there that one could find meaning in the shit, and the ability to do so was a powerful survival tool.
My life has been good so far, with some moments I’d prefer never to re-create. I’ve learned I can make a better moment out of a worse one by shifting my attention. I’ve learned I can turn myself into someone more like the person I want to be through changing the story I tell myself: I’m not “shy,” I’m waiting for the right moment or the right words to communicate. Until then, I’m Mr. Ed.
This moment is a pretty good one. I have a day full of moments ahead of me. “Will” is a word we use every day to indicate future tense — “When I’m done writing this I will publish it” — without considering that we are willing ourselves into a nonexistent time: the future. Using my will, my imagination, and all the resources I have at hand, I plan to find many good moments today.
Good willing to you, too.