You’re a pretty smart person. No, don’t try to play humble and say you aren’t. You are, and you know it. Maybe you’re really smart, or even a genius. Regardless, you’re probably better at or happier doing some things over others, and with certain activities, you’re lucky enough to get both. The point is, whether it’s a lot about a few things or a little about lots of things: you’ve got some serious knowledge up in that brain.

It didn’t just land there, either. You worked hard to fill that brain up.

You’ve spent your whole life so far learning things, and you’re not about to stop now. Over time, you use that accumulated information to analyze situations, form opinions and make decisions. Often, you use all that great data to fill in gaps when things come up that seem unclear (imagination), or on the contrary, when they seem super familiar (expectations). No worries, you’ve got this. You’ve been here before.

Have you though? Been here? Like, exactly right here, right now?

Well no, not precisely, but something like it.

Is that good enough?

That same process of gathering and saving information that your brain has been up to since Minute One Of You can also get in your way. It’s not trying to. It’s just trying to help. It wants to save you work, and make coming to conclusions about things as easy as possible. Your brain loves a shortcut, and so it builds them all day long. All life long, in fact.

Shortcuts are tricky, though, because they presume a destination. You can’t build a shortcut to uncharted territory. What if I told you it was all uncharted, though? That the “inevitable” is mostlikely to happen when you believe it’s inevitable?

Maybe you expecting it is even a big part of what makes it inevitable.

That’s a lot of power you have up your sleeve – that making things happen business. Way to go and use most of it to just relive the past.

Sorry (not sorry), but someone had to say it. Encountering life with a brain full of expectations based on the past really just recreates the past. Doesn’t matter if it’s your personal past, or someone else’s that you know about. If you think the story’s already written, then it is.

There’s a Japanese word used in Zen Buddhism called shoshin. It translates to “beginner’s mind,” which means experiencing things with an open mind and open-hearted curiosity, but without expectations. Since you can’t just delete all your experiential files, beginner’s mind takes practice. It has to be intentional. You have to notice your patterns of thinking, and be willing to drop what you know.

All that beautiful knowledge and experience still matters. It’s still yours, but it’s archived. Whether you’re attached to the stories, or just the idea of having all those goodies in your brain, that attachment can keep you from fully experiencing the present moment for what it truly is.

Even more, it can inhibit the full potential of your growth. You can’t be your new self if you’re clinging to your old self.

Open up, and allow what’s happening to unfold. Appreciate all that you know, but make space to behold all the beautiful, extraordinary, mysterious things that you don’t know – yet.

Photo credit: Messala Ciulla

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