focusing or reacting

focused learning or annoyed reacting?

Focus on and learn from the mysterious unknown or react to and be annoyed with the mysterious unknown.

The script, along with pictures that help illustrate the ideas, is  below the video. You can open the video in a separate window and then scroll down this window to view the script and pictures. To open the video in a separate window, right click it and select the second item from the top: “watch on youtube.”





Everyone is familiar with the experience of “life happening to them,” right? For a child, life is mysterious. Life is just happening however it happens. Whenever we perceive some new thing happening, we instantly focus on whatever is the latest thing, and eventually we may identify some patterns.

We notice some patterns repeat, while life seems to keep going on by itself. Usually, things seem to go much as they have gone before. Eventually, we think we know how things are going to go. We have identified some patterns by now and next we presume to identify those patterns as life.


For instance, we may think that we know how people are. We think we know how people are in general and we also think we know how particular people are. We begin to identify all people, including ourselves, as a bunch of fixed patterns. We begin to identify ourselves as a bunch of fixed patterns.

Life is a bunch of fixed patterns. My life is a bunch of fixed patterns. I am a bunch of fixed patterns, most of them involving a bunch of other fixed patterns that I call the people in my life. Does that sound familiar?

We may begin to think that the patterns already familiar to us are how life always goes. We predict that however we think things have been going is how they will continue to go.

By then, life seems to be just a bunch of fixed, familiar patterns that happen to us. We focus on identifying which old familiar pattern is currently happening. We stop perceiving life as a sequence of interesting new experiences. Life is only a series of slight variations between a few familiar, fixed patterns.

We focus on fixed patterns of familiar perceptions. Anything that is not familiar, we ignore.

Anything unfamiliar, we call “the unknown” and then we may actually begin to fear it. We may even resist the unknown. We may organize our life around what is already familiar, and by then we already know what interests us and what does not. We know what we condemn and we know what we condone. We stop being curious about the unknown and we stop learning.

Instead of learning anything new, we just predict how life is going to be. In fact, how we predict that life is going to be is that life is going to be predictable. Life is just something that happens to us.

First, life is mysterious. Then, life is familiar. Next, life is predictable, as in fixed. So, based on some familiar patterns of what has already happened to us, we predict automatically how life is going to be.

For us at this stage, how we think life is going to be is very limited or even totally fixed. How we think life is going to be is limited to however we predict that life always is. In fact, however we predict that life already was is presumed to be all that life could ever be. There’s no experience of mystery. There is just a bunch of familiar, predictable patterns.

Anything else is the unknown. When life seems predictable, the unknown is no longer interesting or fascinating. When life seems predictable, the unknown may even be terrifying. We may simply condemn the unknown.

Life seems like something that just happens to us. Life is a bunch of familiar, predictable patterns and we are condemned to identifying which familiar, predictable pattern is happening.

In a way, life seems to be already over. We condemn ourselves to a life that is already over.

Life is just a series of familiar perceptions. We focus on familiar perceptions and then fit those familiar perceptions into fixed patterns and thus experience a predictable life that is just a series of reactions. We perceive something familiar, automatically identify it and then  react to the identified pattern. We perceive something else familiar, and then we automatically react to that.

We no longer experience life as a series of mysterious perceptions, but as a series of familiar patterns. Life is a series of fixed patterns of automatic reactions- familiar, predictable reactions, including our own.


We may pretend that the unknown does not even exist. Of course, we know that it exists because we find it annoying. We find certain patterns and people annoying, but we just pretend that they do not exist.

After we pretend that they do not exist, but they keep annoying us, we may eventually condemn them. They should not exist because we should not be annoyed by them. They should not annoy us because they should not exist because the unknown is a threat. We think that the unknown is a direct threat to how we think life always is. Direct threats to how we think life always is are always annoying.


Something new happens, and if the new perception is unusual enough, then behavior changes. Old behaviors may be interrupted or revised and new behaviors may result.

That is called learning. Once we learn how to be annoyed, then we can learn to live a mysterious life again. Suddenly, learning is how we react automatically to life. Now, life is both mysterious and predictable.


If we get annoyed, we learn from the unknown- which is the only thing we have ever learned from. If other people get annoyed, that no longer annoys us. The unknown no longer annoys us. Life no longer annoys us. The predictable no longer annoys us.

Life is a bunch of familiar perceptions that we form in to fixed pattens of how the unknown could be either annoying or interesting or both or neither. Of course, always remember that the unknown does not exist anyway. Finally, when life is already over, that’s the only time it can begin.

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