Following the Trail of Cognitive Dissonance

1 Mar

Forgive my anecdotes, please.  I teach composition.  I tell my student that telling stories helps others to connect to their writing, to feel what they are saying. But I always hesitate to tell a story because I bask in emptiness at times; I love stepping away from stories of me, and wonder if fishing out memories is only adding to the “Story of Self.”

Stories to tell/no stories to tell, a polarity and a paradox.

These paradoxes present themselves all day long if we are awake and seeing.  The world is full of nothing but paradox.  An empty vessel is a worthless person/an empty vessel is enlightened.  I know I know nothing.  We learn from history that we do not learn from History. 🙂  These paradoxes are the whispers of spirit, the pull to zoom out beyond the duality.  The field that Rumi talks about calls to us.

“Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

― Rumi

The first call to look beyond is the discomfort we feel with Cognitive Dissonance, holding two contrary ideas at once that contradict.  This feeling of discomfort can at first make you want to take a comfort pill and go back to bed.  But if we are brave, Cognitive Dissonance invites growth beyond duality.

So here is a story of a bit of cognitive dissonance in my path a while ago.

I didn’t have access to computers or the internet right off because I was busy with my kids.  There was a marked time when all of the sudden, I was exposed to the myriad of information out there.

So right as this transition was occurring, I hastily printed out some information for my daughter whose teacher had requested she come in with some information about the Mayans.

She goes off to school and the page stayed opened on the computer and we all know how one peek leads to another to another, and suddenly I am down one of  my first rabbit holes.

I stumbled upon an Ian Lungold lecture about the Mayan Calander, 4 hours long.  I fell in.  It was rather academic for 3 hours plus, discussing the Mayan concept of time in contrast to the Gregorian Calendar and the Western measure of time.  I sat bolt upright when he suddenly began talking about aliens.   Aliens?  I sat her for 3 hours to listen to someone who was leading up to Aliens?   I was so disgusted with myself because this topic suddenly seemed so bizarre, outrageous, and unverifiable that I felt low and cheap for having wasted my time.  I had cognitive dissonance, and tried to shut it down by disregarding the entirety of the information.

But I could not dismiss how intelligent and lucid the 3 hours had been up until that point.  I couldn’t flush it all away.

Needless to say, I then spent years falling down many rabbit holes, learning to read, watch, and observe with a certain distance and an openness all at the same time – continuing with what seemed to interest and respectfully leaving what seemed out of line.

One of the voices that spoke to the process of this unfolding through so many avenues was Neil Kramer.

Here is an amazing presentation that offers up some of his teachings with visual and graphic representations so rich and illuminating, the  40 minutes gives one much in the exchange.

4 Responses to “Following the Trail of Cognitive Dissonance”

  1. raimyd March 1, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

    Thanks for spreading open-mindedness! I really like when you say “observe with a certain distance and an openness all at the same time”

  2. bert0001 March 3, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    I love that Rumi quote. I appreciate your writing. I appreciate you.

    • marga t. March 3, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

      Appreciation sent back ten-fold, fellow journeyman! 🙂 How lovely to share the walk with you and peek into your corner, so similar and different from mine!

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