I’m watching a new show from NBC, “The Good Place.” I’m surprised I’m watching a network series, but it showed up on Netflix. I’m in the fifth episode, and I can’t really say if this will be a keeper. Right now, it’s working for me.
I wonder how you get to that point of perfect detachment where you can disengage with the world while still participating. What do I mean? Well, right now, the world has gotten crazy. There is no sanity. It’s like perfect chaos of perfectly reasonable people being crashed upon a rocky shore.
I read and try to practice the philosophy of Taoism. My current folk hero is Chuang Tze. I flip folk heroes like a teenager flips a crush. I never know who my new hero will be. But, today, it’s Chuang Tze.
I bring up Taoism and Chuang Tze because the philosophy and the philosopher share concepts of how to disengage and not become entangled in the snare of non-reality. But, what the heck is non-reality? How do I separate non-reality from reality?
Here is where “The Good Place” comes in. The show starts out in a slice of heaven as the perfect place. Our protagonist, Eleanor, is slightly quirky and deeply flawed. Tossed on a canvas of pure white, Eleanor spews color on everything she touches.
What I liked is the story simplifies the world to a point where I can see what I’m looking for, the differentiation of self from others. The distinction of non-reality from reality. The story has two components. A white canvas of goodness and Eleanor. You can’t get a more straightforward picture of the world. Two variables.
And then Eleanor starts living her life. And when you live your life, you project. You naturally project the world you’ve created in your head. The projection is not the mind. It’s not the brain. The mind formulates your response to the world. The brain is the physical structure the encases the mind, and the projection is like the earth. The projection is all the variables you used to create the world you walk in. It’s the sky, the grass, the roads, apartment, house, condo, and garden.
Each individual is going to pick a different house, a separate garden, different colors, various appliances based on what they like and want. Someone is going to go for the condo, someone is going to go for a garden, others will want a highrise and many other people. Each person will pick a specific environment to interact and respond based on what they like or want to experience.
What you want to experience is your liking, even if it is damaging to you or others. In episode 3, you get to see the environment which Eleanor has created for herself as she interacts with Tahani.
Experiencing jealousy and feeling guilt over her own selfish actions, Eleanor is determined to prove her world is the only world. Her jealousy and guilt becomes her story of unmet desires. Our stories, our wants, our unmet desires show us how we get entangled with the world.
You begin to see how a world is created based on non-reality. Eleanor may not be a perfect villain. She may not even be a villain because she is in each of us, making her very relatable.
And now she has a decision to make. She can become the person she wants to be, Tahani, or continue doing what she is doing and move to hell.
That is the dilemma.
How do you change your environment? Your environment is not just a place where your mind plays. It is a place where your mind lives. Your mind loving casts and recasts every small nuance of your world to fit perfectly with your perception. It is the planet called earth and your creations.
Changing any part takes a focused effort.
My husband and I bought an old house. It was an ancient house, and it sounded romantic to purchase this old house and redo it. After we got into it, we found out it wasn’t romantic. A lot of times, it wasn’t even fun. We fought a lot. And we found redoing it took a long time. From the concept to the idea, to the planning, to the purchasing, tear down, rebuild, each step needed the same amount of energy as the previous step.
We could have done it faster and tried to do it more quickly a couple times. We hired someone else to do it. That wasn’t a slam dunk. We had to redo work. It took longer and cost more.
We could have taken what we got. But that’s not what we wanted. We wanted a house that was beautiful, solid, and sustainable. To get that, we had to put in the time. There weren’t any short cuts. Every time we took a short cut, it meant less beautiful, functional, or sustainable. There was only one way to get everything we wanted. We had to oversee every step of the project and put in the effort.
It took effort. It took time, patience, resources, and money. Every step we took got us closer to our goal. Every step started with a dream of what we wanted it to be. Upgrading an appliance was a small step. Redoing drywall was a more significant step. Building a gazebo an even bigger step. Putting in flower beds a step.
So, think about what you want in life. What is the internal desire that you have? Resentment and jealousy are great ways to identify unmet needs.
There is a story you have and keep telling yourself. You loving tend your story daily. Like an old house, you can wander the rooms and keep everything exactly how it is, or you can change it.
And just like an old house, the stories, like the foundation, are rooted deeper than the mind can reach. Deeper than cognitive therapy can catch. Those are the stories you want to start listening to because you might want to change them and see what happens when you begin to experience your dream.