Blog #66: We’re not as special as we think

Watch the following video and reflect upon and describe two moments (2) in your life when you think you experienced Burke’s version of the sublime. 

The first time I climbed a mountain in California

This was an example of the Sublime because I felt entirely insignificant, but not in a negative way. This was my first time hiking alone and my first time climbing a mountain in California. I was pretty high up, or at least high up enough where everything looked like Monopoly houses on a gameboard. Being so high up, barely able to see people walking down below, made my problems feel unimportant. Knowing there were so many other people down there in their houses dealing with their own problems felt liberating. I realized, well I must look tiny to the people below, standing here on this mountain. To them, my problems were insignificant. It really put things into perspective for me and reminded me that I shouldn’t take things too seriously. There’s much more beyond the thoughts in my head. I’m not the only person going through stuff.

The first time I heard the saying “thoughts are nothing but thoughts”

I was reading one of my self-help books “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson and there was this one chapter about how our thoughts are not necessarily our reality. Thoughts are just things we think up in our brains. That may not be particularly groundbreaking to most people, but to me it was. I often get so wrapped up in the thoughts in my head that it ends up affecting me negatively. Realizing that our thoughts are just these insignificant ideas floating around in our brains allowed me to slow down. There’s a whole reality out there beyond my panicky brain. My thoughts about how I’m gonna get a bad grade on my essay or about how I won’t like my college roommate are nothing but THOUGHTS. Our thoughts are such small things in this great big world of reality.

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1 Comment

  1. Your comment about thoughts reminded me of the phrase “thoughts are power,” or something to that effect. Some say that as you think, the thoughts you latch onto become THE narrative; become the way you see the situation of reality in front of you, no matter how accurate or inaccurate those thoughts are in correlation to reality. It reminds me of times I was so sure someone intended this or that by their actions or words, only to find out it wasn’t what they intended at all. I misconceived, misread, or misinterpreted. It’s a lousy feeling. These failures of reading others made me think about what we perceive and what we think and how those things are clearly related but, not always easy to connect or trace. This in turn, impacts your accuracy in reading situations. This also made me think of the idea that you are what you perceive yourself to be–another concept from the self-help genre. This isn’t only based on your thoughts, but on your understanding of how others perceive you. But thinking patterns can become a trap. Whether negative, positive, delusional, or egotistical, all patterns of thought can be rendered “logical,” or “common sense,” to the thinker. “It’s this way (x) because I am this way (y).” It is interesting for you to equate this with Burke’s Sublime. Why are some thought processes in certain situations perceived as individual efforts to personally navigate the world, whereas in others, like you have articulated, they can be set aside as insignificant in comparison to the billions of other people confronting similar situations? I guess the key is to know when your thinking is integral to your navigation of the reality you face, and when, in the face of another reality, your thinking is simply one view among billions. And I didn’t even get to Heidegger!

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