Slowing Down to See Our Place–Beyond Solipsism

Here’s another musing from my morning pages that I thought worth sharing.

It’s interesting how some mornings just feel awkward and clumsy. It’s almost like the entire world is out to get you. I just had a pile of clumsiness a moment ago. What to do? I noticed that the first instinct is to blame things–as though my phone could be actively choosing to defy me–or in a more general way, we can say that today is a “bad day”–as though the stars were aligned in the sky in such a way as to make everything bad for us today. However, how often are such things a sign that we are not paying full attention to what we are doing or that we are doing things poorly–half-assed?

I just slowed down and tried to be mindful, and guess what? The world wasn’t out to get me. Stuff remained stuff, lifeless, obeying the laws of physics, but my interpretation changed from making the world about “me” into looking at my action in the world. Suddenly, it was easier rather than harder. The separation of victimhood disappeared, and I flowed with it all again.


How often do we interpret the world and our lives like this? It seems a more or less constant thing, and I don’t say any of this in judgment, merely in measurement of the banality of all this. We see the world through our own two eyes, always within our own perspective. Is it really any wonder then that we so readily see it in terms of me?

Even Western metaphysics struggles with this solipsism. The one thing that Descartes could not doubt was the existence of his thinking self. Thus, the I that thinks, that feels, that experiences is the ground for all truth. Yet, is this even sensible? This has not answered what “I” is as thinking thing and assumes that the grammatical description of subject doing activity to object (in this case: “I doubt everything”) is an accurate description. In this sense, I mean that it is accurate that there is a separate “I” from the doubts. What if the doubts are the “I”? What if the thinker is not separate from the thinking–unfolding together?

What I would add to this fragment is that we take our position as solid, enduring identity which the world revolves around far too seriously. Then, everything becomes our own personal world, and we see ourselves both as separate from our actions and as the center of a drama/tragedy/set of happenings. In truth, you stubbed your toe, dropped your phone, and spilled your coffee. None of these were out to get you. You weren’t mindful. Your mindfulness slips even more when you get angry at these things and say that life is too hard, that it all sucks, etc. You could instead choose to laugh at yourself for your various slips and goofs, taking ownership of them as your own missteps, and if the world is responding to you, it’s reminding you to wake up to yourself and what you are doing.

May this help you look at even the smallest of your interactions and engagements differently. May such new insight bring you the ability to laugh instead of being angry and be attentive and purposeful instead of continuing to be clumsy.