The Pre-Made Decision
by Jennifer Paros
“Reality is merely an illusion, although a very persistent one.”
The other day, I was given an electronic device that included
several cords, along with an AC/DC adaptor. I dislodged all from
the packaging and plugged everything in, but when I went to plug the
AC/DC adaptor in, could not, as it was “male” and the jack was not
“female”. Although I could see it was wrong, I tried again.
Repeatedly, it would not fit. Finally, I returned the adaptor to
its packaging, resigning myself to using batteries instead. This
was the reality, after all.
When my oldest son came home from school, he was curious about the
new contraption and started investigating. I explained the adaptor
situation and he proceeded to remove said adaptor from its box and
plug it right into the unit and wall. And my reality was shot. How?
I had clear memory of the technical impossibility. I KNEW that plug
was “male”; I was absolutely convinced. I had evidence – I
Moments like this—and I’ve had others—amaze me and
give me hope. What other unpleasant realities might I be able to
overturn? Are ALL the things I am so sure are real, possible
candidates for transformation?
I thought back to when I was given the thing. I’d asked about
batteries and was a bit concerned (I am not a fan of the battery –
although convenient, they do run out and this grates on my
cheapness). I remember feeling a bit wary, dubious as to whether
there really was an adaptor included. And when I first
removed the apparatus, I remember thinking it felt like there was
nothing to it, suspiciously lightweight. I found myself
doubting it would work.
Maybe those background concerns and negative thoughts set the stage
for my perception that the adaptor was no good. Perhaps I had
already unconsciously made up my mind it wouldn’t work and so was
unable to see how it could - unlike my son whose mind was a
virtual clean slate on the subject.
It makes me wonder how many decisions I’ve made ahead of time
without realizing it, decisions that have created experiences I
don’t particularly want.
For instance, when I first started studying art in college my
pre-made decisions had to do with thinking I was not talented. So,
in the beginning, when I tried taking a life drawing class, I quit
after day one, traumatized. I had stood before the nude model (a
Illustration by Jennifer Paros - Copyright 2010
muscular man) and a large sheet of paper with a piece of charcoal in
my shaking hand, hardly able to breathe. Instead of seeing it as an
opportunity to learn, I saw it as a test – a test I was
failing. And that was my reality.
Sometime later, I took another art class run by a professor who, as
though intuiting the class’s communal fear, announced: “You’re
all talented. So forget it!” And that helped me start to
change my perception and my reality shifted yet again.
“I reject your reality and substitute it with my own.”
Several years ago, my husband argued we needed to take our car in to
be repaired. He said the clutch was “mushy”, that something was
wrong with it. But whenever I drove the car, although it might
start out soft (if he’d just driven), it would be normal in no
time. Back and forth the argument went. And I came to suspect that
his frame of mind was some how affecting his experience of the car.
I remained committed to my reality and after a while, my reality
won out. The clutch stopped being a problem for anyone.
Heresy and hokum you say? Yes, but perhaps, useful
heresy and hokum. I have written for many years with many
conclusions about myself, my abilities, the speed at which I work,
the publishing world, all of which may have given rise to some
unwanted realities of their own. Here is an opportunity to return to
reality with an open mind, to take a moment and see if our
experience might only be the reflection of some pre-made decision.
For a new decision can be made at any moment.
“Only in quiet water do things mirror themselves undistorted. Only
in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.”
More Author Articles...
Jennifer Paros is a writer,
illustrator, and author of
Violet Bing and the Grand House
(Viking, 2007). She lives in Seattle.