44. Magic tricks have three parts

“I think I’ve pretty well always known that something has to be fixed — or not fixed, I mean not only that, but more that there’s always room for improvement… it’s all got to do with stopping the deluded crap. The trouble is, it’s so difficult sometimes (or make that most of the time) to know what’s a ridiculous way to deal with a situation and when you’ve been led away from a more realistic approach by being lost in your own imbecile reactions. It’s like losing your temper or getting really worked up over one thing or another. When you’re in the middle of experiencing all that, you tend to get swept up in that stupid moment and think like that’s how things are, it’s just the way it goes for right-then. Later, when you’ve calmed down or levelled out a bit, that moment can look just plain dumb.

“So it’s difficult to see that you could be caught in the current and being swept along, especially while it’s happening. It’s like we all need to find our own circuit breaker to be able to stop it happening, or work out how to train the brain to pick up on the signals.”

Hey, here’s a clue numbskull. Remember number 9 (and ‘Is it a snake, or…?’) when something you thought was, wasn’t? There’s an idea, just one thought; that can be your circuit breaker. If you remember. But that’s difficult too. But then again, that’s why they say practice makes perfect… you need to try and repeat and do it again, to ‘train the brain’ as you say. That’s not going to happen without making an effort — but then, that’s what training’s all about. And why I’m here.

“Even if it’s possible to recognise that you’ve tripped over whatever’s lying in your way — you know, anger, resentment, something to piss you off — the other difficulty is to know how to change lanes then, and get off what’s driving you down the usual sequence of thoughts.”

Now this reminds me of a scene from a silent movie that Benny saw once when he was younger, which I’ll have to remind him about, that was in a documentary about Charlie Chaplin that his parents were watching one evening. In it, Chaplin trips on a kerb while walking along distracted, and doffs his hat to apologise, assuming he’d caught his toe on someone else’s foot and not just a piece of pavement. I remember the younger Benny thought that was funny, even though he didn’t laugh out loud, sitting there with his parents as he was. Anyway, that idea circled close to an answer to his present musings as well — which would be to call out the habitual response by training to have a different response. It wasn’t the same I know, as the tripping-up moment in the movie was more antic than answer, but an obvious part of the joke was a reliance on habit, and that was something that could be underscored here. Just making an effort to change response, even if it’s not always achievable, could waken the idea that all situations, the good, the bad, the boring, the exciting, are temporary states that, because they are driven by specific circumstances, may not have a lasting presence anyway.

“And then there’s the other difficult thing, which is making it stick — it’s no use saying to myself ‘I’m never going to let that happen again’ because it does, naturally. It just seems too easy each time to buy-in to the moment at hand.”

You may have heard the saying ‘if you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got’. Benny could do worse than to start with that thought. But another idea to couple with this thought harks back to number 41, with a morning reflection of what lies ahead, and an evening review of how all that went. The aim, hopefully, would be to get some perspective.

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