On Concepts and Life

Concepts can become boxes that we try to push our lives into. We have an idea of how things should be: who we should be, what we should be doing, where we should be, who we should be relating with and so on. Concepts can be ideals imposed upon us by our social context, but they are still self-imposed, for we are responsible for our lives. It is a wonderful to have a goal, a dream, an idea of the life we want to live, an ideal that inspires us. But if we fixate purely on ideas, dreams, goals, ideals – concepts – and are not in tune with the immediacy of life, we limit its flow. We end up residing in the deadening space of the fixated mind. We live an idea instead of our realities, which is not living well. In allowing our concepts to dominate our life, we lose touch with reality and cease to flourish. If our dreams and desires are realised, they could become meaningless for by the time we have reached them we may have become a different person and thus they are no longer in tune with our lives. In living a concept-driven life we separate ourselves from our realities, we become separate from ourselves, and things cease to make sense.

When ideas take over living and we stuff our life into conceptual boxes, these boxes become our prisons. If we are unable to realise our ideas we become vulnerable to disillusionment, disappointment, and shame. The most serious outcome of letting our ideas thwart life is depression. Depression, although incredibly painful and debilitating, teaches us, if we are able to listen, the importance of releasing ourselves from our conceptual boxes that have become mentally imposed prisons. With this release we learn to attend to the subtlety and beauty of the ceaseless flow of life that cannot be captured by the concept. We learn to flow with life. We let life in and learn that we are this life – this flow.

It is beautiful to be in dialogue with ideas, to let them resonate with our life. But an idea should never take the place of life. Our ideas can direct the course of our lives. If we think an idea as a guide, it is much more effective as a gentle guide who is open to experience, able to adapt to the changing circumstance that is life, rather than as a dogmatic bully, or as a dreamer who closes their eyes to reality. We never know how our ideas will actually materialise thus it is important to keep our ideas in constant dialogue with the flow of life. Reach for the stars, but remember that our feet must meet the earth. Between our feet on the earth and our fingers lifted to the sky forms the vital channel that is our life and generates our expansion. It is from this place that we are true creators rather than dreamers drugged on our fantasies.

As we live, our ideas change. Ideas that are in tune with life are not fixed. To approach life through the frame of a fixed concept is to deny our creativity and to limit our life. So much of what we can create is unknown to us. Our potential is unknown. We need to trust in the ceaseless flow of life and be in tune with it, to dance, and grow with it. In this way we can grow well, create well, and relate well – we can live well.

Our ability to design the architecture of our lives is critical to living well. It gives the amorphous nature of life definition; it provides us with security, direction and focus. We intentionalise our lives such that we make them meaningful. But we need to build open, adaptable, (re)generative structures so that we do not dam the flow of life. We need to design an architecture that can move with the natural flow of life and can support, protect, and honour our creativity.

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