So, now that I am a bit more free from work, I could add my own little “special moment of illumination”, though it is not as interesting as stories go, to be honest, and it is a bit absurd/funny (at least to me).
The story happens more than 20 years ago. I am around 13 years old and I am returning home from school, so the time is 14:10 in midday and I was thinking about having to eat fast and then grabbing my “English lessons folder” and run to the English school. While my concsious mind was pre-occupied with such mundane things, the rest of my head kept having fun, so as I was passing by the garden door of a neighbouring house I saw something with the edge of my eyes (I am wearing glasses, so it was blurry).
Right next to the door, on a window-lile ledge, there was something and my mind ( it works in multi-threads ) went:
“oh, hey, that’s a nice statue of a cat, the neighbour got”
“wonder where they found it”
All these took a quarter of a second and made such an impression that I stopped my thoughts about “what I was going to do for the day” and I remember actually saying to myself “oh, nice statue … wait WHAT? a cat STATUE?!?” and I turned around fast to see what’s up.
Of course it was not a statue, but an actual living cat, which got scared from my sudden move and run away. Ok, that was silly, I thought … “cat statue, what a moron” … so far the story may seem totally stupid/boring and without any meaning, but when I got out of my house at 14:45 to go to the English lessons, that particular cat was dead, on the street, run over by a car.
That was very bad.
What is worse is that my mind instantly got to the decision that I might be at fault.
Needless to say that this was not a thought I liked at all, so I started picking at it.
Had I not noticed the cat and not scared it, it’s whole life in the past 30 minutes (within which it died), would have changed radically. Every single action - or lack thereof - has consequences, so in a way, those 5 seconds in which I scared it away, played a large part in the death of the cat, but so did every other second in that time.
I was not responsible for all the other decisions the cat had made, but I sure set the process rolling, at least for a good fraction of that small timeframe which the cat had to live until it was run over.
Anyway, I came to the decision that time is quite fickle and that we could be dead/injured or have any other life-altering situation occur to us at any given moment, therefore three important things in life derive from that:
a) Any long-term plans must include the posibility of me not being able to finish them, for various reasons (predictable or not).
b) Any thoughts like “if I had done this or chosen that, then I would have now been happier/richer/better/whatever” are total non-sense. Even deciding to spend an extra 10 seconds to comb your hair in the morning could mean that you are just on time to participate in a fatal crossroad car crash or you are 10 seconds early for that and you are quite fine.
c) Every decision matters and changes your life in someway. Even writting this post or sitting in a chair lazing off in the sun, changes your life. A lot of people like to say “this and that happened” and “changed my life”, but what they actually mean is that “I only noticed this and that changing my life and all the rest went by unnoticed, yet equally important”
I got to admit that it seemed like an inconsequential list of results at the time, but as the years went by I saw a lot of people being pre-occupied with their “plans” and feeling bad when those didn’t seem to come in fruition (especially if they were unrealistic from the beginning), but I had none of those issues. The cat had led me to a path where plans were “just guidelines” or even a “santa wishlist” and, as such, they were nothing to really worry about. So point a was useful.
Then I saw people that got what they initially wanted and then lamented that things could have gone better, they could have had a better degree, a better job, a better car, a better wife (and different children) and a better everything, so they keep nagging to themselves and to people around them “if this and that had gone my way” or “if I had chosen this and that, I’d be now somewhere better”. None of those totally illogical worries and hypothetical utopias where “the universe conspires to help me” exist in my head. So point b was also useful.
Point c is tricky and I am still processing it. If every decision and moment counts, then doesn’t that also equally mean that every decision and moment are trivial and not-special? If they are ALL important, then, on some level, they are all also un-important, as well. Whic is a paradox.
Still a useful point though. Where other people just think of “major events” where things went wrong in a situation, I can re-assess more points that other people find trivial. A bit of a micro-management that, but hey, it is useful. Sometimes I just shrug at the whole thing and not care, exactly because of all those “issues of the moments”, which is also useful. Sometimes not caring about an issue is actually very useful.
Anyway, I am a bit rambling by now, so that is the cat incident and what I made out of it, more or less. If anyone has other ideas to toss in for processing, I’d be happy to listen and give them a spin.