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auto-pilot, disengaged

July 27, 2011

My life did not come equipped with the  auto-pilot feature.  And to think that this clarity was inspired by a mid-air conversation with some woman on the aisle asking the usual “Where are you from?” “What do you do for work?”  “Married…. kids?”

I am truly gifted at subtly deflecting this line of questioning a skill which has served me well as my experiences, passions and missteps get beiged inside of structured pleasantries.  My honest answers end up sounding identical to those given by any tiny handed carnival worker lacking a proper mailing address. On this particular evening my practiced evasiveness was trumped by genuine curiosity resulting with the auto-pilot realization.

When you’re living your life on auto-pilot, you recognize every pattern you’re in and there’s no need to worry.  I suspect this sort of suburban stability is what most consider to be their goal and its easy to understand why.   Your brain wants you to be safe.  Your body is built to procreate and die, not thrive.

I spent years trying to pretend that I wanted a “normal” stable life, being uncomfortable constantly forced me to be aware, to experience, absorb and grow.

Now I feel that that those on auto-pilot are simply going the wrong way, getting no new input, recognizing no new patterns. If this is the way your life is going, you are actually becoming more useless in an increasingly chaotic world where the best pattern recognizers win – the type of person who gets their three minutes on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and walks away with $200 after the first softball question, never bothering to use a lifeline.

Anything amazing, be it a feat or a life,  requires character forged by a cycle of balancing and unbalancing, contraction and growth – the constant (sometimes paralyzing) fear of failing but driving forward anyways.

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