Living in the Present — Explorers, Searchers and Protectors
The path from being a searcher to becoming an explorer of life
R U OK? Day — Sharing my own story
Inspired and humbled by what I saw others sharing during World Suicide Prevention Day (September 2015) — celebrated in Australia in conjunction with R U OK? Day — which encourages people to share their stories I am sharing my story.
This has been one of my most important life lessons — what I discovered after trial and many errors.
Perhaps this lesson will help you also. This is my path from being a searcher to becoming an explorer of life.
It was a Thursday, at 9am. The afternoon before I’d spent 4 hours in the hospital for an invasive biopsy. “Your doctor will call you in a few days”, they told me as I was discharged. My mobile phone rang. “You need to book immediate surgery”, said my doctor. He informed me straight-out that I had cancer which would almost certainly kill me within 5 years.
About 6 months after the cancer surgery my marriage of 15 years broke down and we separated. After 12 years of trying to have a child, through miscarriage, depression and IVF, it was sad the marriage ended soon after our daughter successfully arrived.
Financially I was bad shape, in some part due to $20,000 worth of medical bills but primarily because my income left me in debt at the end of each month (working for a start-up — one of the pressures on the marriage).
At an eye check-up a few months later the optometrist looked alarmed when I mentioned flashes of light and told me — should they happen again — to admit myself directly to ER at the metro Eye Hospital as I may require immediate surgery to save my sight. But the fact was that I could not afford any further medical treatment without selling my house — so I wasn’t about to take her advice.
Things were crashing in on me. Over the next 12 months I had to figure out how to pull my life back together, and “not minding” is a part of how I did it*.
You wonder how you’ll put yourself out there again
When you’re drowning in water your mind is focused on surviving the immediate moment.
But it seems that when you’re drowning on land and in life the waves crash in on us much more from the past and the future than the immediate present.
Thoughts of what has gone wrong in the past, and why, are played in endless loops in our head. We relive streaming videos of the past and of an imaginary future.
The fears and doubts created from our imaginary future stories paralyse our ability to take action or to face people and life again.
We end up pulling the blankets over our head and sleeping longer.
Coming to grips with how to face people again, and deciding on the manner in which you want to face them, takes time and thought.
You could face them as angry and defeated, or brazen and over-confident, or more self-aware, humble and in the present.
Which will it be? This is an important choice.
I decided on the latter, to face them with myself in the present. But how to get there?
Fear can’t hurt you any more than a dream, WILLIAM GOLDING, Lord of the Flies.
Although fear can’t hurt you more than a dream, dreams themselves are powerful experiences of reality — your perceived reality.
In fact, we cannot tell the difference between dreams and reality. That’s why we scream out in the night when we have a nightmare.
Your mind is your enemy
This means that fear can capture you as realistically as a dream.
Your experience of fear is real, but it is not absolute. It is of your own making. It is your own unique experience of reality being experienced as fear.
The next time you encounter fear consider yourself one of the lucky ones
Do you run from fear? Do you sense it coming and back off? No one ever tells us to stop running away from fear. No…
When you are drowning in life your mind has taken you over. You have let your mind take you over. You have made that choice, whether you recognise it as a free choice or not.
And your mind hangs on to that power with an iron grip. Your mind hates to let go.
Your mind keeps churning through the past and the “ifs” and the “buts” and the “maybes” and the agony. It relentlessly plays movies of the future which project your fears and failures and doubts to its audience. Its audience of 1 — you.
Your mind is your enemy, but your mind is not you
Many people have laughed at me, and commented sceptically, about my proposition that in this situation your mind is your enemy.
What I know is from my experience. You’ve read my story above.
My mind was keeping me in fear, in a theatre of dreams about failure and a failed future. And it was not letting go, it was determined to drown me.
But your mind is not you. This was the revelation which freed me.
Your mind is not you — you are much more
My “aha” moment was when it came to me that my mind was not me.
And your mind is not you. You are much more than your mind, and your mind needs to serve you, not the other way around.
But being the craving apparatus that it is, your mind will seek to control you. Your mind is almost an Alien inside you.
You are more — you have a Soul, a Consciousness and an Energy.
Putting your mind in its place allows you put yourself in place
When you are able to conceive of yourself as much more than your mind then you are on the road to taming your mind.
You can see a glimpse of light as to how to observe it and make it a servant to you and not the other way around. You can unleash it from your own perception of who and what you are.
You can tame the beast!
Taming the beast means that you can free yourself from your mind's desire to keep you in the past and the future.
You are no longer seeking, you are no longer needy, you are no longer a victim of your mind.
And make no mistake, your mind will keep you its victim and overwhelm who you are if you let it. You know that because that’s what you’ve been through, right?
Being an Explorer — Being in the Present
By being able to observe the mind you are now placing yourself in the very present that you desire to be in. You are connecting yourself with the world and not being drowned by your mind.
This is liberating.
This is fantastic, it enables you to present yourself in the present.
Now you can think of becoming an Explorer, released from your Alien within. Your mind will throw up fears and vulnerabilities, that’s natural. You must try to not let yourself be dragged back into the mind.
Living fearlessly is not the same thing as never being afraid. It’s good to be afraid occasionally. Fear is a great teacher, MICHAEL IGNATIEFF, O Magazine, April 2007.
The trick, the “Explorer hack”, is to not deny your fears and vulnerabilities are real. They are real. You must accept your fears and vulnerabilities and be prepared to test them and face them and to be afraid.
That’s being an Explorer. It’s not easy and we all slip back into the mind games — we just have to kick ourselves out again and Explore again.
You are going to get hurt, and you need to care. Not minding is not the same thing as not caring (read this post of mine, it is important).
Think of a 3-year old — exploring
Think of a 3-year-old — then you can use this as a technique to lift yourself out of your searching mind up to be an Explorer.
This is something I have to repeat, it takes practice.
I’ll be honest and say that it is extremely difficult to get yourself to Explorer if you are in a completely dark world and don’t feel any good news.
You need some good feedback now and then.
Even though you know that it’s your beliefs and thoughts keeping you in Searcher, and therefore you can change them, you still need a skerrick of good news as a catalyst.
Here’s a bit of good news — it only takes a tiny little piece of good news to lift your spirits — a remarkably small bit of good news will give you a window of hope for change.
If you do fall back to searching mode then you are falling out of the present and back into your own mind. When you are searching your mind is running the show, not you. This is why you need to learn to recognise this happening and snap out of it.
Searching is being in the Mind, not the Present
Life is when we’re all unique children.
That’s how life is best experienced and how we contribute most to others, ourselves and humanity. It’s when we haven’t been taught how to be an adult.
An adult is when we’re all taught to be the same, to talk the same, to act the same, to live by the same routines.
Young children are Explorers.
When you have dropped down a level from Exploring, down into your mind, you become a Searcher.
A Searcher is a pawn of their churning mind. They have frowns and their faces are unopen. They turn away from the camera and from being in life in the present. That’s where I went when life was drowning me, and where most people go.
Unfortunately, most people exist as Searchers.
That’s right — they exist. They just exist.
They don’t face their fears and vulnerabilities, and they aren’t developing their uniqueness and almost certainly they are not developing their confidence.
The life of being a Searcher is the routine of death, and is what many people call “their daily routine”.
Developing confidence and “developing a life” can only come from being in Explorer mode.
That’s why most ritualised chanting “self-confidence” techniques fail.
Optimism is important but it is not the choice between it and pessimism that will help you succeed
Being optimistic is generally regarded as a highly desirable outlook on life. Books are written about it; "optimistic…
Doing this to yourself while you are in Searching mode only aids and abets your mind’s ability to control you and to make you a victim and it will ensure that you ultimately fail.
When that failure happens people often see their fragile confidence shatter, and they become depressed and become a Protector.
Protectors have lost the life experience
Protectors are easy to see.
They are commonly women who have been hurt in love and have closed down. They will not expose themselves to more hurt, and enormously fear to expose their vulnerabilities. And their self-confidence is in a poor state.
Of course, many men are also in this state, as we can see by those taking their own life — including recently a friend of mine.
Protectors are no longer experiencing life.
If you are in this state for more than a brief period at an intense level then you need to get help.
You need to find someone to share with, to be able to create some human contact and to get yourself in touch with humanity.
Hopefully, someone will reach out to you. Contact me if you need help.
Becoming an active Explorer
I’ve experienced being a Protector, Searcher and Explorer.
When rebuilding from life’s events it’s OK and natural to be a Protector on and off, as long as you can find your way back to Searching.
The natural oscillation is between Explorer and Searcher, with practice, more in Explorer
And from being a Searcher you can become an Explorer. Then you will oscillate between being an Explorer and Searcher and over time learn how to spend more time as an Explorer.
As an active Explorer, you will expose your fears and vulnerabilities. This is scary, and that’s why I wrote the post Not Minding Is Not Not Caring to explain how to cope and learn to remain an Explorer. This is truly the only way to build (or rebuild) your self-confidence.
The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek, JOSEPH CAMPBELL.
The bottom line of this entire story is, if you want to connect with your Explorer, you first need to connect with your inner-self — the cave you fear.
Your inner-self is not what your mind is telling you when it has you locked in Searcher mode.
When you connect with your inner-self and your whole you then you can be true to what drives you. Then, with the new passion and confidence you feel, share your vulnerabilities and fears. But that’s for another post!
Being an Explorer (most of the time) has not only changed me but it has totally changed how people view me and react to me. That’s because you get back what you put out.
When you also become an Explorer it will do the same for you. Good luck.
Respond below with your stories of searching and exploring, and of R U OK?
If you enjoyed this post then you might also enjoy my Secret purpose of meditation is to help you escape your addiction to neuroticism and Mindful Passion, Poise and Posture and Optimism is important but it is not the choice between it and pessimism that will help you succeed
I’m Walter. I write articles on fitness, health, and motivation for men and women over 50. However, curiosity is my main distinction. I’ve been lucky enough to have experienced a bolt of lightning hitting me in Korea, crash landing in a 747 (LAX), being sucked into a thundercloud at 4,000m in a sailplane (Australia), jumping freefall from 3,000m on my 1st ever parachute jump (Florida), and two different lethal cancers. In 2000 I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes which sparked my interested in exercise, nutrition, motivation and cognitive fitness. University qualified in mathematical statistics, and computing science (Masters); have a professional diploma in sports nutrition; certified social media strategist. Feel free to message/email me with any comments, questions, or collaboration ideas. Blog: walteradamson.com