In nothing, everything.
I try to remind myself of this as often as I can.
I do this in two ways. The first is by reminding myself I know nothing. Not technically, but relatively.
I know nothing about the meaning of life or what happens when we die. I know nothing about the history of Afghanistan or how to use verbs in Hindu or about sacred Inca ceremonies. I know nothing about you and the unique sequence of experiences that have led to you being right here, reading this sentence. Nor do I know a thing about the unique experiences that have brought the other 7 billion people on the planet to where they are at this moment right now.
In terms of the total information about the world that I possess, it’s like:
It’s likely smaller, but you get the idea.
This reminder creates an infinite space for learning. I ask more questions. My ego sheds and my mind opens, allowing me listen to what people are saying instead of contemplating a response that makes me look knowledgable.
This reminder also humbles me. It allows me to look silly and to ask questions that start with “Actually, I have no idea, what is….”
It might seem counter productive to learning to be walking around telling people you know nothing, but in fact, it’s the opposite. This type of humility endears you to people and amplifies their willingness to help you. You become a breath of fresh air, the one person admitting something we all know, but never say.
The more someone tries to tell me how much they know or how wrong I am, the more comforted I am. Because anyone who thinks they know a lot really doesn’t know shit. Those who say, do not know. Those who know, do not say.
My second reminder is that nothing is mine.
Phone, apartment, clothes, motorcycle, surfboard. I may be in possession of these things for awhile, but none of them are mine. Eventually, I will sell them or lose them or break them. Everything, including my body and my mind, is on lease.
As an exercise to reinforce this reminder, I give things away. Usually things I like. I give away shirts I like. I lend my possessions freely and let people stay in my apartment rent-free. I do not do this as much as I could, but I try.
By separating myself from my possessions and sharing more, I am able to better connect with others. This increases my overall happiness more than the guarding my possessions ever has. It’s a strange phenomenon, but I have noticed that the more I give, the more I receive. The more you give, the more the universe finds ways to fill your cup back up.
At first, this mindset might seem limiting to growth, but the reality is the opposite. Accepting that nothing is mine creates a world in which everything is mine. By accepting that nothing is mine, or yours, or anybody’s, everything becomes mine and yours and everybody’s.
If nothing is mine, then nothing is yours too. Or hers. Or his. And since nothing is ours, all of it is. This does mean I’m entitled to your stuff or that I get to take it. But it does mean I can have what you have.
For too long, I lived with a scarcity mindset, assuming because someone else had, it meant I could not. I guarded what I had, fearful that if I lost it, it meant I might never get in back. By realizing nothing is mine, or yours; that it’s all ours, flowing to us and through us and from us; I believe more in what I can receive. Whatever anyone has will eventually leave them. Why can’t it come in my direction?
The first step of possession is belief. I am sure, by way of reminder number one, there exists some fruit in Africa I’ve never heard of. And since I’ve never heard of this fruit, it’s impossible for me to believe in it. And since I do not believe in this fruit, I don’t think about it or ask for it or search for it on Amazon. And because I do not do these things, I cannot possess this fruit.
By realizing that nothing is really anyone’s — it’s all on loan — I believe more in what I can receive. I believe I can have what others have and begin to ask for it. I also believe in what I can give. That I can be a source of what others what without experiencing loss.
This acceptance has helped my mindset shift from “I’m going to guard my 50 acorns ” to “holy shit there are 50,000,000,000 acorns we can all share.” It has removed any shame I have of accumulating wealth, or of sharing it. Instead of focusing on protecting, I focus on gathering.
In a nice twist of fate, adapting a gatherer mindset attracts me to other gatherers, to other people whose beliefs align with mine. This only increases my ability to gather. Like attracts like.
Most importantly, these reminders help keep my fear in check. 90% of my what I fear stems from a fear of loss. Loss of life or home or reputation or money or family or job or quality of life. The more I remember that it all eventually goes, the less I fear loss and the more I focus on appreciating and enjoying what I have, while I have it.
Just some ramblings. Maybe they’ll make sense to you. Maybe not.
Like I said in the beginning, what do I know?
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