The Belief in I and the Eye of Belief (Ch2)

Posted: August 12, 2011 in The Belief in I

Chapter Deuce

— Confirmation Bias —

“If we look at the way the universe behaves,

quantum mechanics gives us fundamental, unavoidable indeterminacy,

so that alternative histories of the universe can be assigned probability.”

~Murray Gell-Mann (American Physicist, born 1929)~ 

               Let’s take a large hopscotching leap forward for this brief rambling chapter.

During the summer of 2009, I’d consistently kept a hand-written journal of the meagerly lazy to heart-pounding rush of day-to-day life.  I wrote about everything from the thlocking sound small waterfalls make as they get sucked under a rock, to marital tribulations, to cheesy poems about playing hooky, to dead sparrows being eaten by ants.  I also journalized my many sessions with various counselors, psychotherapists, therapists, and doctors trying peddle the drug of the week in large doses.  Toting around my monogrammed hardbound diary was as second nature as always making sure to grab the “keys, phone, wallet, sunglasses, balls” before heading out the door.  The case I kept it in was made of sturdy nylon, plastic, and had a very lovely carrying handle, as well as a pocket on the front to stow my favorite black, red, and blue pens.  Some say, “Purse”.  I say, “Mental Baggage”.  On the flip side of the case was small silver emblem of a Jesus Fish.  Why?  Because it was the last cheap diary case they had at Wal-Mart.

            A few years have obviously passed from the brief version of my youth portrayed in the first chapter.  I was ¾ of the way through my 3rd marriage at this point, the father of [technically] five children, and still deathly afraid of death.  The medication prescribed by my ‘doctors’ to combat ‘depression, mood swings, anxiety, and impulsive behavior’, simply took all of the emotions I didn’t understand, furiously whipped them up in a blender, and served them back to me like an omelette with mutated versions of the original ingredients.  Needless to say, I quit the meds cold turkey one night after a booming voice in my head yanked slumber from under me by screaming in my ear to “wake up!”  That night I opened the bottles and flushed the remaining contents into the toilet waterslide.

            And that’s when I started seeing Dr. James.

            Beep. Beep!  There’s a dead sparrow at your door…

            Within the first two visits, it was apparent this guy’s methodology was wholly different from my past experiences.  It was almost too open-minded.  Up until Dr. James, I’d become growingly skeptic of therapists in general.  I could tell a therapist anything and they’d always come to the same conclusions… ‘more medications! different medications! more different medications!’  I needed to understand my emotions, not cover them up behind a drug-induced veil.  I had read some articles where cognitive therapy taught a person how to actually understand the emotions they were feeling, and to accept the fact that we ARE our emotions… they are NOT simply a waste bi-product of something else.  To mask them is to deny yourself of who you are at the very core.  Cognitive psychology is the newer psychological approach to therapy which helps to train us to identify the things we perceive, think, and how we solve the problems faced each moment of the day.  It accepts scientific method and rejects introspection.  It directly hits on ideas, beliefs, desires, and the motivations behind them.  I began to get warm-fuzzy glimpses of the not-so-distant-future.  Little of it made any sense because I’d never investigated such things and wouldn’t know where to begin if I wanted to, but all of it magnetized me relentlessly.

               For the 3rd session, Dr. James asked that I bring with me more than a pen and a monogrammed book for which to use it on.  I was to bring in my then-wife to go over some alternative cognitive methods as a couple.  Moments after introduction, he probed us on how we felt with regards to spirituality.  We answered that, while we ‘feel’ what should be considered‘spirituality’, we could never get it to match up with anything taught in a variety of different religions we’d tried together and individually.  We had one set of friends who claimed themselves as atheists, but it was still too harsh of a word to identify ourselves as.  We were agnostics, not heathens.  There “might” be something else out there, but it certainly wasn’t a life void of morals just because we don’t believe in anything.

              It was at that time the good “doctor” recommended the movie that would completely kick away the foundation from under us:  “What The Bleep Do We Know?!?”

             He advised that it was a different type of documentary, created by 3 directors, a handful of physicists, neuroscientists, brain doctors, writers, philosophers, and scientists, to easily [as it is possible] explain the complexities of Quantum Mechanics.

            …’what’um Mechanics?’

            “Quantum.  The theory of Quantum Physics”, he said.  “The movie explains in easy-to-digest bits how humans are the only species to become addicts of their own emotions and how to understand the mechanics of how these emotional charges were built over long period of conditioning (the process of experiences, memories, cultures, and traumas which act as building blocks to our creation process).  Watch this video.” He advised, and then paused to pull a sip of coffee from his Lexipro mug.  “That’s your homework.  Find it at Blockbuster Video, I think it’s like .99, and watch it tonight.  If none of that grabs your attention, then I was wrong about you guys, and we’ll try something completely different next time.  However, if you come back next week with your jaws dropped, then I doubt you’ll even need my services again.”  With that, he ended our session and off we went to the store.

            It was a bold statement to profess, perhaps it was confirmation bias, but we never went back after that.  We watched the movie with all of our friends over the following few months to witness the same mouth-opened gaze as we initially displayed.  You could literally feel the electricity build-up in the room when the mind was injected with this high octane knowledge.   I wanted to learn more, sense more, understand more.  I didn’t know if I necessarily bought-in to everything they talked about… but, what it definitely did was begin the process of comfortably realizing how vastly small we really are, and how none of us are big enough to matter in the grand scheme of things.  We’re one finite random brush stroke buried in a painting as large as the earth itself.

            I want to be clear here… I am NO scientist.  This stuff is way, way, wayyyyy over my head for the most part. I’m just a guy who finds it very interesting.  It’s not too big of a leap, however, to Google/Wikipedia a big word or term, and begin to branch from topic to topic until a better understanding has been gained.  I love the idea of being able to present a hypothesis, study it, examine it, and either build on what has been proven to work through visible testing, or tear it apart to start over.  However, knowing that your emotions are what controls you, and actually getting them to obey your commands after a lifetime of them ruling you, are two extremely separate challenges.

           The next step was for me to learn the trick of The Stop Sign…

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