Suzanne Guldimann is the editor of the Topanga New Times, and also TNT’s resident naturalist. She was recently asked to give a talk on being…
Once your consciousness expands to include new information, you cannot unknow it.
This data is now stored inside you forever.
I was born in the Seychelles Islands and lived there until I was 9 years old. My childhood was simple and sweet, just like island life is. I played in the woods behind the house and I played in the ocean. I ate the papayas and the bananas that grew around me. I wore a uniform to school. I was one of the only white kids there, but I didn’t notice anyone’s colors because I was more interested in just playing with my friends.
When we moved to the southeast of the United States, I learned about 24/7 cartoons, fast-food cheeseburgers, choosing my own outfit for school, huge highways with massive 18-wheelers, and the racism of black and white fights at my new school.
As you can clearly see from this simple example, once there is an expansion, it’s impossible to undo. As a person who is constantly striving to grow and learn in every single moment of the day, most of the time, this expansion is amazing. However, there are times when ignorance really is bliss. If little me never knew about TV, she would have just kept playing in the yard. But once she knew about the constant entertainment, she couldn’t unknow that. It is now a tangible potential in the field.
This gets a little more complicated as one gets older. Here are some examples of things you can’t unknow once you’ve known them: what true love feels like, what heartache feels like, what attaining brief moments of God-consciousness feels like, what amazing love-making feels like, the first time a parent hears their baby utter “mama” or “dada,” what it feels like to be wild and free at Burning Man, what it feels like to witnessing someone you love die…
We are not the same after these experiences. Our consciousness has expanded to include new data—this time, experientially, which means it’s now fully “coded” in our subconscious. If I’ve never been in love myself, I could imagine what it might feel like from movies or stories people share. But if someone has a personal experience being in love, something in them changes forever. There is now a deep knowing within them of this new experience, and if the experience was a good one, there is a new level at which they will compare things to. From this moment onwards, there is a certain bar that has been set for what this experience is like.
If you’ve lived in a cold rainy place your entire life and you visit sunny Southern California and love it, you are likely to feel inspired and elevated and may even have the realization that there are places that are sunny year-round and you could move there and have that elevated experience. Conversely, if you’ve always had high-speed internet and you go somewhere that only has dial up, your system is likely to feel frustrated because you know what it could be like.
What’s my point in all this?
My point is, the more experiences you have, the more data/information there is within you and the more likely you are to compare one experience with another. Sometimes, the expansion is so worth it. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. There are pros and cons to both. You get to choose. Are you in this game for growth or comfort?
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