“Man, I hate that stuff.”
My graduate school housemate, Eric, walked by the bathroom as I was finishing up shaving and applying some aftershave. Old Spice–it evoked all kinds of memories for me linked to my father. Strength. Steadiness. Feeling safe. Knowing everything was taken care of. Leaning against his shoulder and gratefully closing my eyes during an especially long sermon at church.
“When I was a kid, I’d get infected ingrown toenails. We didn’t have any alcohol in the medicine cabinet, so my mom would pour my dad’s Old Spice on it. That’s what I think of whenever I smell it.”
Once I got past the initial ickiness, it really dazzled me to consider it. I had just assumed that everyone had the same reaction to Old Spice that I did–that it was somehow hard-coded into human DNA. However, here was abundantly (disgustingly?) clear evidence that I was wrong.
Which then begged the question, What else was I wrong about? What else did I take for granted about what other people thought about the world and how they experienced the many stimuli that they encountered in the course of a day?
I suppose I should have connected those dots long before then, since by that point I’d already lived for several decades unable to get within 10 feet of tuna salad–a toxic, noxious substance that most other people (were they superhuman?) seemed able both to smell and eat (the horror!) without becoming mortally ill.
If our senses and individual experiences can play such a strong role in determining the particular quality of our moment-by-moment experience, what about our beliefs? How do they color the different worlds we each open our eyes to every morning? How do they filter all the inputs that come whizzing through our atmosphere? Walking through a crowded store or driving on the interstate, just imagine how many different worlds are sailing by you–uniquely shaped by experiences, molded by beliefs, colored by judgments. No two exactly the same.
Which planet do you live on? What’s the air and environment like? How’s the quality of life? Does it support and nourish you?
If not, consider moving to a new one. You don’t need a rocketship to get there. Instead, hitch your wagon to a couple of new beliefs. With that kind of power pulling you, you can have your pick of the stars.