I’ve made mistakes—many of them. Queen Latifah once said, “I made decisions that I regret, and I took them as learning experiences. I’m human, not perfect, like anybody else.” A vastly more profound quote than it might initially appear.
The miraculous (yet often frustrating) thing about human nature is that every human is operating in varying levels of consciousness, as I’ve learned. This stems from their past, their parent’s history, and their grandparent’s past. And how that’s playing a part in the patterns being repeated. Family reconstruction therapists often embark on a journey with patients to understand who their parents are, their parents’ siblings, and who their grandparents are. This journey asks a series of questions like, “What job did they have?” or “Are they immigrants?” All for the patient to understand and see what they don’t know about their ancestry. Or what assumptions they have made about their past. And the behaviors that are being learned unconsciously.
These questions illustrate and illuminate our ability to operate our lives without a full picture of the past or present. Neuroscience is the study of the human brain. In a study by Joyce Lacy and Craig Stark, they identify that the mind tends to reconstruct the memory rather than solicit it. Saying “that memory is a reconstructive process, that is susceptible to distortion.”
Mandukya Upanishad describes states of consciousness. Waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. The waking state is defined, of which “we are aware of our daily world.” The second state is defined as “inward-knowing,” the third state as “the underlying ground of consciousness is undistracted.” And lastly, pure consciousness, which is “consciousness both absolute and relative.” As I see it, pure consciousness is using the three states of consciousness in cohesiveness.
Clearly, our minds are regularly playing games with us and others around us, then. We might not initially presume that these games are being played with others. But as we play the game of consciousness with ourselves, others become players, right?
It took me 32-years to understand that mistakes are opportunities.
Don’t look at that statement with discord, though. It is very complicated to see or comprehend what the opportunity is. Is it the growth of my career? Is it the growth of my family? Is it the growth of me? Or a combination of these? Or something you can’t see. The opportunity is there, but it’s tough to see.
Then what is this process? This process is becoming conscious. Why didn’t anyone tell me this sooner? As we make mistakes, life decides to give us another chance. Once again, providing us ample opportunity to become conscious. Some learn the lessons very quickly, repeating a mistake in the short-term, presenting the opportunity. Other times, the error takes years to circulate. And sadly, some lives are over before they get a chance to learn again.
Tomorrow is not guaranteed.
In our culture, it’s easy to stay “immature.” Social media seems to glorify immaturity. Poor decisions, attention-seeking, bad behavior, or harmful acts are trending and receiving millions of views. So we can see how drawn our minds are to staying unconscious, can’t we?
But maturity is also subjective and relative, as I’ve learned. Maturity is “the ability to respond to the environment being aware of the correct time and location to behave and knowing when to act, according to the circumstances and the culture of the society one lives in.”
What do maturity, mistakes, and consciousness all have to do with each other?
At 32-years-old, I have a brief definition of life—a temporary one. One I’m expecting to evolve. But what I can say is that the challenges we face, the struggles we have, the frustrations we experience allow us to define our lives, not for others, but ourselves—the process of having the chance to make a mistake.
See, it’s a sort of ping pong match, isn’t it? As we age, more chances to make mistakes. More opportunities to learn. More options to try again, with some evolution from the past attempt. Or try again, with the same methods, and learn once more that we need to change.
We have two options for our consciousness. We can proclaim that everyone around us has done ourselves an injustice. And that “they” need to change. Or we can decide to see that there’s one common denominator in all of these mistakes, heartaches, and experiences. Me.
Tomorrow is not guaranteed.
Maturity sets the arena for opportunities to grow. We all matured at some point in our lives. Overcame challenges, defined our lives by those experiences. From a very young age, we decided to chew food. We decided to learn to speak. What if we didn’t choose to do those things? What arena would we be living in as our birth years went on? Age and maturity are not the same. Maturity is relative, just as it’s defined. It’s a choice we make. To mature, to make mistakes, to become more conscious.
See, it’s in all of us, from an early age. There wasn’t someone who taught us how to walk. We were all determined that every time we fell down, we’d try again. With a new method. But why do we forget? We didn’t forget, it’s that the process advanced itself without telling us.
Let me put in the ante for where I’ve gone wrong:
- I’ve lost my temper. Resulting in the loss of more significant opportunity.
- I’ve been childish. I played games with others that I wouldn’t want to be played upon myself.
- I’ve placed value where there wasn’t sincerity. Held onto those who I should have let go, and let go of those I should have held onto.
- I’ve repeated. I blamed the wrong people for my own injustices, decided to make excuses rather than accept responsibility.
Today I will decide that I need to change. To treat others as I would want to be treated. To do my best not to repeat heartache. Or to accept the lessons that come with it. And try, once more.
Tomorrow is not guaranteed.