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Scenic Routes

Moving with the intuitional, logical, rational and emotional twists and turns of our conscious drive through this reality

Photo by JOHN TOWNER on Unsplash

The relentless quest for optimization has turned us into a result-first kind of culture — a good thing if you’re looking to maximize the output of a hive-minded species but not necessarily the best thing for, well, getting the most out of life.

Even the collective efficacy of our progress seems to be drifting onto the salty shoulders of cultural impotence.

Our templated approach to standardized existence puts us on a streamlined highway taking us from point A (birth) to point B (guess) in the most seemingly efficient way possible — we achieve ABC as we believe XYZ and expect everything in between to be part of this linear but wholesome experience.

And at some point we realize that there’s much more than a simple alphabet to be traversed; the trick, though, is coming upon this realization much sooner than we’d otherwise like to.

The road of life is constructed with subjectivity above all else.

Whether it winds along coastlines or up snow-saddled mountains, lays smooth or is filled with cracks and potholes, consists of an urban multi-lane highway with complex roundabouts and intricately synchronized traffic signals or is only calm dirt road stretching out into nowhere special — it’s wholly up to us.

And the best of roads seem to be those that take us to different places, to a multitude of different settings with variable inclines or twists; the kicker is that time and efficiency, something we’re so obsessed with, matter little amidst the grand scheme of it all.

Liken the mind to a vehicle of some kind — a horse-drawn carriage, a bicycle, a racecar: maneuverability is critical, left equally as much as right.

To spend equal time turning left into the avenues of logic and rational scientific inquiry as we do turning right into the intuitive boulevards of emotion or spirituality. Sure, sometimes we may favor one more than the other, but it’s when we exclusively turn the same way each time that find ourselves going around in circles, covering no new nor purposeful ground.

This works for most things, politics being a solid but often frustrating example.

You’ve heard it many times: it’s about the journey, not the destination — the fulfilment process, not the checked-box of completion, as sweet as that checkmark may be, but the very process of checking itself.

As soon as we think we’re done learning, that’s when we’re the most fucked; as soon as we get to where we going, that’s where boredom and disenchantment begin to creep in; once we’re at the top, there’s no where to go but down.

But a nomadic way of life itself isn’t necessarily the goal. While continual movement is critical, constant relocation itself doesn’t seem to be the answer.

So where do we go, or, better phrased, how do we best navigate?

The more we confine ourselves to one way of thinking, the more we corrupt our subsequent navigation, like following a GPS that’s programmed to only lead us along toll-routes.

If we assume the Big Bang Theory to be the only possible case for our cosmological state of affairs; if we filter public policy through the lens of one political party; if we assess current events through one framework of interpretation; if we recount history through only one author.

I’ll refrain from diving into the trending examples of COVID or Ukraine — but suffice it to say, those who have parked and turned off the engine on one particular road amongst these issues are those who have given up trying, whether trying to fully understand or just trying to be objective.

We’re afforded the privilege of wholesome conscious movement, logical and intuitive, rational and emotional; why not balance easily on all four of these tires rather than trying to get cute or lazy by turning off emotion or ignoring the pulls of logic.

It’s the same reason stories are best when the plots involve numerous twists and turns; why the best experiences are those that have a pendulum swinging to and from struggle and reward; why we need bad and dark and downfall to juxtapose good and light and success.

This kind of formula, containing critical polarity, is needed in just about everything we do, from our relationships, to our analyses of culture, to our self-development.

If we don’t have that kind of winding journey, relationships end, culture becomes a useless bore and we give up on ourselves; an uneventful highway, bee-lining to a destination that proves anticlimactic by the end of it all, despite however much time or fuel was saved.

The scenic route, under no constraints of time or effort, takes us on a spontaneous and inefficient ride all over the map to such a degree that we forget the destination all together at times — or willingly decide to just keep driving — that’s the route that seems more worthwhile.

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Philosophy | Psychology | Physiology: Bridging the gap between us and ourselves.

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