I have heard brains referred to as meaning making machines. They are…at least part of them. While there are redundancies across the hemispheres, there are also specializations.
One of the things the right side specializes in is forming a narrative, or making meaning out of an experience. This is what makes life worth living to many of us, the meaning of it all. Some will say that life has no meaning other than what we give it. I disagree.
In EVOLUTION, A NEW TESTAMENT, I argue that what makes life worth living are the forces that shaped us. And if you look at things that make your life worth living, it’s likely to be one, if not all of those forces. We often review these when we go through big life events.
When you’re in the midst of a big life change, it can be hard to make sense of it, much less take meaning from it. And often that change comes along with a commensurate degree of the negative. And it’s easy to become focused on what’s negative.
As an autistic, I’m particularly good at seeing what’s bad and getting looped into it. That loop leads to a spiral. That spiral is often downwards in direction.
To switch directions requires us to switch perspectives. When change comes along, it’s impossible for it to be all bad. While we lose the ability to do what we did before, it leads us to a new question.
“What can I do?” That’s the question that I advocate we ask the most often. But when we have life upending events, it calls for a refinement if that question.
“What can I do now?” Or even better, “What can I do now…that I couldn’t do before?” The answer to this questions offers us a way out.
It offers us a way out of thinking about what we can’t do. And it offers us a way out of feeling the pain of that functional loss. It not only offers us a way out, it offers us a way forward.
Life events change us, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse…but no change leaves us entirely less than before. Life changes aren’t just external changes, they’re internal, as well. That’s why it is imperative to ask, “What can I do now that I couldn’t before?”
That may require to look back at things you couldn’t do before…but wanted to. Or the answer may be things you wanted for your future. Or the answer may be something you haven’t considered yet.
What you can no longer do is no longer your direction, your way out. But what you can do that you couldn’t do before is your new direction. Do the new and you displace the pain of past loss and future lost…with the joy of the future gained.