Perspectives: Beyond the Linear Path : Future Focus Counselling & Consulting

For the longest time, I was neither content nor unhappy. I walked along, collecting life events: moments, birthdays, anniversaries, jobs, roles, promotions—one bead after another. I had no other way to view life except to accept it as linear: we are born, we collect experiences, and then, one fateful day or night, we pass away. I struggled to come to terms with this pattern in my life, pondering if there had to be more.

I sought understanding from mentors, coaches, counselors, imams, priests, friends, parents, and family. Why do things happen? How do I deal with painful life events? How do I distance myself from my thoughts? Why is happiness so fleeting? Why is there so much entanglement with past events? Why can’t I let things pass? My mind raced. I read countless self-help books like ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,’ ‘The Power of Now,’ ‘The Power of Habit,’ ‘Big Magic,’ ‘The Secret,’ ‘Rejection Proof,’ ‘The Power of Positive Thinking,’ and many more. Yet, I never found a comforting answer.

I leaned on sayings like: “It isn’t what you have, who you are, where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.” — Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends & Influence People

“It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.” — Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

“Those who believe they can move mountains, do. Those who believe they can’t, cannot. Belief triggers the power to do.” — David J. Schwartz, The Magic of Thinking Big

These were just tattered quips, concepts, rhetoric that played the role of advisor, adding another confusing bead into the life-thread.

Then, one fortuitous day in the fall of 2019, I was told that life wasn’t linear, that it was more. I remember being curious but dismissive. “How can life not be linear? You are born, you grow old, and you die. This is life. This is what it means to be human.” Ah…how naive I was.

Over the next seven weeks, my heart and mind opened to a new world where life is immense, four-dimensional, with infinite possibilities. In this world, time is relative and inconsequential, emotions are neither good nor bad, and one is allowed to view life from a million different perspectives.

Let’s delve deeper into these concepts:

Concept 1: View life as a 3D data visualization

Each data point represents a life event: a moment, birthday, anniversary, birth, death, job, relationship, friendship, experience, anxiety, shame, and more. Each point has its own meaning, existence, purpose, yet it needs the rest of the data points to make sense of the whole. Transitions through distinct states in time are visible. Yes, I can see my life as a 3D data visualization. Life is a living organism that constantly creates, destroys, and recreates meaning.

Concept 2: I am an observer of my life

The past, present, and future are constantly changing. This ever-moving model allows me to acknowledge that change is the only constant. To understand the meaning of life, one must view it through many perspectives, always changing, examining, and experimenting. This non-linear approach lets me view my life as a third person, like an all-seeing being that is gentle, kind, loving, and without judgment—similar to viewing an image and admiring it, not just examining it.

Concept 3: I am connected through love and compassion

All the 3D data points (my life) are connected. I have a choice: either I can connect them with a narrative that is painful, toxic, and full of anxiety, or I can view them with love and compassion. I can turn away from my life or bring it together as a compassionate and loving observer.

Concept 4: I bring cohesiveness to my story

Since my perspective is always changing, what holds me together are my guiding principles and values. What do I stand for? My values are what I believe to be important in how I live and work. They determine my priorities and, deep down, tell me how to maintain the integrity of my story. Like the murmurations of starlings, I am fluid, yet anchored in my values and beliefs. My journey ebbs and flows with the tides of life’s experiences, but my core principles provide a steadfast foundation, guiding me through each twist and turn.

In conclusion, the realization that life is not just a linear path but a rich tapestry of experiences woven together by our actions, thoughts, and connections with others is empowering. As we stand, like the murmurations of starlings, ever-fluid yet gloriously cohesive, we recognize the beauty in our individual stories. Each of us brings a unique pattern to the world, a distinctive dance of light and shadow shaped by our values, beliefs, and the love we share. In acknowledging this, we find not just the meaning of our own lives but the interconnectedness of all life. This journey is ongoing, an endless process of learning, growing, and transforming. As we continue to navigate the vast skies of our existence, let us do so with compassion, understanding, and an ever-present curiosity, always remembering that we are the architects of our own stories, painting our paths with the vibrant colors of our experiences.

Life as a murmuration.

Many thanks to my Psychology professor @Matthieu Villatte, Ph.D., for that amazing class on Contextual Behavioral Psychology that Fall Semester of 2019. And @Steven Hayes for Acceptance and Commitment Theory. And Dalle, for all these beautiful images.

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I am licensed to practice in Washington State and the following Canadian Provinces: Yukon, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland.