I may very well be staying in the smallest flat in London. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very cozy and full of love, but in terms of physical dimensions, I believe it’s all of 290 square feet. I’m staying with my buddy howie and his girlfriend, and every night I put down the futon and engulf the entirety of their free space. In terms of convenience, I don’t think you could find anything better. It’s smack dab in the middle of downtown london, easy access to any tube that you may wish to travel on. Their hospitality has been unexpected and beyond what one might ask – you don’t know how many times I’ve tried to pay something only to be waved away and told that because I’m not used to british pounds, I can’t be expected to pay. At any rate, I’ve spent far less in these last few days then I expected, and the time has passed quite pleasantly. Tonight’s adventures involved happy hour (2 for 1 coronas), drinks at one bar, drinks at another, emotional dramas and dramatic emotions. All in all good fun and pretty much what I expected when I crossed the pond.
One of the conversations the three of us had dealt with what it takes to change someone’s mind. Now this specific conversation was in regards to an unhealthy lifestyle (mine) and what it takes to affect change. Howie has always been quite vocal about my lack of exercise and smoking, however this has little effect on my day to day routine. Tania (his girlfriend) pointed out something that I thought was quite significant: in our own individual world, there seems to be two kinds of advice – one that is external and is readily accepted, and one that is internal to our world and mostly rejected. For example, someone will tell you to go to such and such restaurant and you will willingly try it out, however if the same person tells you to quit smoking, it will be met with orders of magnitude more resistance. So I was struck by this disjunction.. why is some advice accepted and some rejected? Where does someone’s suggestions become influential, and where does someone’s suggestions become detrimental?
What I figure is that if it’s a suggestion to *change* something, then that is always met with resistence. If it’s a suggestion to *try* something, then you will always be more open. Perhaps it’s our neural pathways, where one path is already set in stone and resisting change, another has not been laid and does not require much effort, as that is what our brain is meant to do.
Right now I’m reading a book on neuralplasticity, where the central thesis is that our brain is completely programmable, and at the whim of our central consciousness. The author of the book believes that the deterministic, materialistic view of our consciousness is a naive one, one that is too rigidly based in the mechanical fundamentals of the universe. I’m inclined to believe him, because the alternative – no freedom of choice – is a universe that I simply cannot fathom. To be honest, I can’t think of anything worse in the world then to be some pawn of the universe, unable to determine my own path. It’s a fate worse then death because it ultimately makes our lives meaningless. I live for meaning, and if that means I have to have faith in my conscious soul, then I have faith.