A Role We Play
TL;DR: We all have a choice in reading the scripts given to us or directing our own show.
Originally Written: 13-Jan-2022
Word Count: 1326
Read Time: 8 minutes
Perhaps the greatest betrayal everyone has the opportunity to experience is the sensation felt when one arrives to a position in life where they can recognize that doing what they were expected to do was actually a choice we made instead of an obligation we had to fulfill.
Put another way, when we experience enough growth in our self-development that our perspective outgrows the contexts of life we were born into, we must come to terms with some things.
These things must be acknowledged. Not just acknowledged, but witnessed for what they are doing to us in our current walk of life, which is holding us back.
Note in the beginning of this entry that I said this is something everyone has the opportunity to experience. I do not believe everyone truly does experience this. In fact, I know not everyone does.
There are three stages of moral development based on the work of Lawrence Kohlberg.
This theory is less about what a person decides is right or wrong and more about how the person arrives at their decision in the first place. One's meta for conquering moral dilemmas.
When you arrive to a decision around a matter, you are approaching it from a specific angle as one would sit by a campfire with others. Each person can see the fire, but what it looks like is unique to where the person is sitting. Things vary moment to moment, but macroscopic features like the placement of the logs in itself make my point.
What I'm getting at here is that, although there are arguably infinite stages of development one goes through in life that affects our decision-making, there are three general mindsets one can assume.
Each of these mindsets, though unique to the individual, are ultimately shaped around the contexts we were born into and the perspectives of those that shaped the one we call our own.
In our first stages of life we experience what is called pre-conventional thinking.
We are babies, toddlers, and children alike.
What this generally means is that our moral thinking is externally controlled by the rules imposed by our authority figures.
Conforming to these rules is not just a choice, but vital to the cause of avoiding punishment or receiving rewards.
In this realm, what is right is not just what is personally satisfying but also what one can get away with.
As we progress through life, we graduate to what is called a conventional level of thinking.
Conforming to social rules remains important here.
However, the emphasis shifts from self-interest and what one can get away with to relationships with other people and social systems.
We strive to support rules that are set forth by others such as parents, peers, and the government in order to win their approval or to maintain social order.
In this realm, we are "good people" to others. In relation to the next stage, it's inauthentic.
We attempt to adhere to what we think are the standards of society when making decisions.
What some of us never reach is something called post-conventional thinking.
We have succeeded in moving beyond the perspective of what we define as that of society.
Our morality is constructed in terms of abstract principles and values that allow us to flex our perspectives and let them evolve such that they apply to all situations and societies.
In this realm, we attempt to take the perspective of all individuals.
To get back on track with making my point, the greatest betrayal we experience in life is when we wake up to the realization that we are following the conventions of our parents, peers, and society with the expectation that we deserve anything for doing it.
We are entitled to nothing, if not for the opportunity to complete our current intake of air.
Life can end at any moment.
It does not matter how many push-ups you do, vitamins you take, or minutes you meditate.
If you cannot change your perspective about what you're doing to make yourself happy instead of thinking that what you are doing is supposed to make you happy, you will never graduate.
Post-conventional thinking is what I think about when I consider Plato's Allegory of the Cave.
In brief, we are all born in a cave shackled and forced to look at a wall where shapes appear of what things are, as if objects were being held up to a fire behind us and casting their shadow upon the wall.
We see things, but we don't see things for what they actually are and only merely a shadow of them.
At some point, we have the opportunity to unshackle ourselves and turn around to see things for what they are. Not only that, we have the chance to leave the cave to see the world for the first time.
When these moments happen, most of us regress. We are frightened by what we see and retreat back to the cave because it is what we have known our whole lives.
I honestly don't blame these people for a second. I really don't.
Especially without the kind of support that is needed in order to truly stay afloat in this world, I do not see how anyone can truly leave the cave of their minds and exist in the world we live in today.
I see myself leave it for moments, if not for brief treks to seek out something new.
But, ultimately, I recognize myself as an individual retreating to the cave to appreciate the shadows on the wall every time I am looking at a screen when I am not obligated to.
A screen is my comfort zone.
In fact, I think it's a lot of people's comfort zones.
The only difference is the content being consumed.
Facebook. Netflix. Grindr. Nintendo.
The Real Housewives of Some City Nobody Can Afford to Live In.
All of what we consume is meant to bring us some level of comfort, but it never brings satisfaction.
Satisfaction is something we earn when we spend our time budget on something deeper.
We must dive to greater depths in life than just the tide pool if we are to find anything.
The context that we eventually do find becomes the kindling for what creates meaning for ourselves.
Without that context, our days become gray, bland, and repeatable.
Repeatability is great. It means that results are being consistently provided at the same rate.
But repeatability is not always beneficial, especially in the cause of innovation.
One cannot grow or evolve if one is committed to ensuring that every day, every moment, turns out as planned.
We must in fact let our days grow beyond the plans we make and into memories to reflect on.
Only then can we see the color from the gray or the stage props from the actors.
Life is one big show, at least to the people who decide to watch it instead of live it.
It's one thing to assume people are pretending to be something they're not.
It's another thing to recognize a person can grow beyond what is expected of them.
But, until then, we cannot let the problems we think are problems become the problems we chew on for the rest of our lives.
The problem isn't the problem, it's our perspective on the matter as problematic that is the cause.
The solution is to the address the perspective.
To let things be as they are, including ourselves.
It takes courage to take the steps required to do this.
It takes time, energy, and work to achieve self-actualization.
But it is possible.
Better than settling on blame or excuses for why I didn't do what I wanted for myself.
Better than shortchanging my experience of life so I can feel right about the world.
Better than learning how to perform for others when all I ever wanted to do is be myself.