Rational thinking has its limits. We think that we are transitioning from point A to B all the way to Z on a linear path. We think one decision leads to the next. But I'm finding that life's momentum is more circuitous than that. It lurches and grinds to a halt before boomeranging into a sprint. And because we keep trying to explain our lives into a straight line, we miss the fact that life is more like water. It has no finite edges with unseen energy that pushes us back against ourselves until even we don't know where we begin and end. Let me put it tangibly: Yesterday I was walking to work down in Tribeca. Anyone who has crossed a street in New York City knows that on the green light/walk signal a battle invariably ensues between car and pedestrian. Of course the walker has the right of way, but we also all know city traffic. If a car can turn, it's gotta turn. The rules of the road are different here. It's real life Mario Kart. That all to say, this was the exchange I witnessed:
A girl and her mom were crossing the street after a large truck was attempting a tight turn. The truck had gotten stuck close to the curb, but just as the mom and daughter crossed into its path it started to tug free. The ladies yelled. The truck driver stopped. The girl said, "It said walk!" The mom yelled "Are you crazy?!" The truck waited. Then, out the window:
"You know lady life is crazy for me, too! You could have helped me out. You were in my blind spot!"
The mom and daughter kept walking. The mom looked back ignoring his point and (out of her daughter's sight line) mouthed, "F%#$ you!"
The truck driver yelled, "You know what? F#$% you too!"
It was embarrassing for all of us.
Rationality keeps you rigid. A walk sign means you walk. It keeps you unaware of the deeper sets of knowledge in your cells like energetic intuition and flow. Like knowing that city traffic (and life) operates with the implicit understanding that we're all trying to get where we're going fast and without incident. Like discovering the random brotherhood that can be released from having a real conversation with a real human in a real moment of confusion. But instead, a walk sign means you walk. There's something missing in rationality. It creates clumsy structures that don't account for the complexity of simple actions like crossing the street.
In popular culture we value rationality and call it common sense, but this is just wrong. First of all, there's nothing rational or common about existence. We've been struggling to figure that one out for all of human history. And human history has only been around for .004% of Earth's lifespan. Point is, there are questions we can't answer. So why do we do this on an endless loop with our every day lives? Why do we expect our experiences and relationships and thoughts to travel in a straight line when we know we're going white-knuckled holding onto the rails of a winding, non-sequitur life?
If we could just let go, if we could just let the truck pass, what else might we make? Who else might we love? Where else might we travel and live and work and play? In other words, how much better could everything be?
I wanted to say this to the truck driver, and mom, and daughter. I wanted to shake all of us out of that irrationally rational moment and back to what was real. Back to our limitlessness and our intuition. Back to goodness and flow. Back to brotherhood and the fact that we're all traveling along with the same sense of bewilderment. But I was headed to work. The walk sign lit up. And ya know, a walk sign means you walk.