Subarus, Salmon and Sominex

by Steven Washer

Have you ever wondered what it would take for you to become one of those people who change the world? I’m giving you fair warning that you’re about to find out now, so this is your last chance to look away!

Soylent Green is WATER!

Before we get to that, let’s set the stage. Imagine you’re a salmon swimming upstream to meet your blind date. Things are going well all things considered. You’re making pretty good time as you splash through the waves when all of a sudden, ZZZIP, something sharp grabs you by the snout and before you know it, you’re looking straight up into the sky, a strangely unwaving sky at that, but even worse, it’s getting sort of hard to breathe. Breathe? What’s that? And as you pass out, you realize that the stuff you’ve been moving through has also supplied your oxygen. If only you had known before…

Boy, do we know what's popular

Got it yet? How about this one? Last year we bought a Subaru Forester, and for the next few months, it seemed like everywhere we went, we saw Foresters; Foresters at the dry cleaners, Foresters cutting us off in traffic, Foresters at the grocery store, Foresters at my psychiatrist’s office. Um…never mind that one. The point is, we suddenly became awfully aware of how popular these cars were. But were they? Of course not. What changed was us and the way we perceived reality.

But will we know in time?

The Subaru story is an example of the Reticular Activating System in action. This is where your normal state of awareness is augmented by one stimulus that you had formerly kept on the sidelines. You SAW it, but it did not register in your brain. Got it now? Think back to our poor salmon who was laid to rest in a package of Mrs. Paul’s Fish Sticks. His own reticular activating system might have suddenly perceived the life-giving properties of water, just as he was graduating from the school of hard knocks. So what does all this mean?

It only matters how much you care

Very simply, that we are all living, more or less, in a state bounded by our perceptions. And the more we notice, the more we seem to care. The more we care, the more action we take. The more action we take, the greater effect we have on the world. Now, the absence of perception is sleep. Too many of us live in a perpetual state of Sominex-induced reality. So, do you want to know how aware you are? Is there a gauge of awareness? Before we get there, let’s look at one more example: our Constitution.

The problem with self-evident truths

As with the salmon, the effect of the Constitution is noticed not so much by how it works, but by how you feel when it doesn’t. It’s our oxygen, our water, our life and liberty. And if you wake up and notice how it’s been used and abused down through history, you’ll finally understand how important it is to your life. (That’s what Constitution Now is all about.)

Everything old is new again

By the way, Ben Franklin knew all about the Reticular Activating System. The old story goes that when a lady asked him what sort of government he had given them, he replied, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it”. Now, isn’t that interesting all over again?

Is consciousness a choice?

So in the end, while hyperactivity is not the goal, caring quite probably is. How much do you care? There’s a salmon in the fridge and a Subaru in the garage that might make it worth knowing.




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