How much are we stuck on automatic pilot?


This morning as I was driving back from a friend’s house, the road was very curvy and after passing a couple of people going the opposite direction in my lane (giving me a bit of a scare), I wondered why they would drive that way. Soon after, I realized that hugging the curve at higher speeds was increasingly difficult, and took a cue from those drivers to cross the middle lane myself (as long as there was no one coming!) and “iron out the curves” as they call it in mountain driving. Adjusting driving style made it much easier to navigate the curves (all the while keeping careful watch on potential oncoming traffic–but it was mostly deserted) brought to mind a memory I had of my first (and only) flying lesson.

It was almost 20 years ago, but I remember clearly going in this little passenger plane Cessna with someone I was dating at the time (who was a pilot and flying instructor), and he suggested that I “drive” the plane just up the runway, a procedure called “taxiing.” Now, I didn’t realize at the time I was in for a lesson–I thought he was going to take me up for a joy ride. So gamely I took control of the throttle, and seeing an unbroken yellow line in front of me down what looked like a road, I automatically began to steer the plan to the right side of that line, as if I were driving a car. It was the most natural thing to do, with my training as a driver. He laughed and said, “No, no, no–steer her right down the middle of that line. If anyone comes down the other side, well, they’re just out of luck, because this runway is ours right now!”

Remembering that made me ponder this morning, how many times have we acted on “automatic pilot” letting our conditioning run the show (the “show” being “our lives”)? Without even realizing it?

Later this got me into thinking about, oddly enough, abundance consciousness, and my conditioning in that area. Or I should say, “Lack consciousness,” because that is what I remember learning. My father weathered the brunt of the Great Depression at an early age, raising us on stories of how nicer bread cost 10¢ a loaf, so their father would buy “Roger bread” which was only 5¢ a loaf. My mother was a bit younger, but she was raised out in the country, and experienced her own aftermath of the Great Depression, living on a farm in N. Wilkesboro.

In some ways, training us to save money was a good thing, as it also helps the environment to use less energy, water, etc. My dad used to charge us kids 10¢ every time we left a light on without using it! “Who’s using the light in the kitchen?!” was a common question in raised voice throughout the house, to which one of us would leap up to go turn it off or finish whatever we were doing in the kitchen. I turn off lights when leaving a room out of habit.

But then comes the other side of that coin (pun intended)–the feeling of never having enough, not being worth enough, and always needing to scrimp and save–that conditioning of “money is scarce” really pervades, layer upon layer, and shows up as an energy field of lack. It’s hard to imagine making a lot of money. Why? Because only rich people make money? Why not be rich? And then I come to a sticking point–it’s like I have a mental/emotional block to making money, because I’m still running the program (at some level) “money is scarce–I have to scrimp & save if I’m going to get by.” Which, actually, is the case with a lot of people lately, with economic downturns since 2008. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The earth is very abundant! Nature shows us abundance every year, when I am astonished at how many seeds are produced by crops in my garden–each one of those seeds can potentially grow into a new plant next year! How abundant is that? And if nature follows the “rules of the Universe” it would seem that one of the rules of the Universe is Abundance, not Lack.

But, if I’m standing in a field of blueberries, say, with blinders on, will I see that I have plenty to eat? Our conditioning does that–it puts blinders on us. When we are not present to opportunities, wailing in fear, we are missing the boat. Maybe I could smell the blueberries, even with blinders on, but would I believe that they are there, that abundance is possible? Maybe not. Maybe the first step to stepping into presence and out of conditioning is merely to trust that there is more out there than we can see right now. Noticing conditioning, too, is a good first step. I still struggle with how. How to be present? I cannot think myself there. In fact, thinking is what gets in the way. Awe is one way, which short-circuits thought for short bursts of time, but it’s a now and then for me. Perhaps being open to possibilities is a way to let more awe in, and trust helps one to be more open. All of this was somehow going to lead into a dialog on the spirituality of marketing, but my thoughts before writing this and actually typing it seem to have meandered onto another path. Where we are now, what we do now, is what we have to work with. So it goes.


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