I remember the moment when I realised how suitcases got on to the conveyor belt in the arrivals hall at airports.
Up to age of ten this was a complete mystery to me. At one end of the journey, our baggage disappeared, after much ticketing and labelling, through some thick downward hanging flaps. Next thing it reappears through some downward hanging flaps on to a conveyor belt at the other end.
My child's mind saw this as pure magic.
Then I saw …The Truck.
For a fleeting, critical moment one of the flaps in the baggage hall failed to fall immediately back into place. I saw through the crack. And what I saw changed everything. I saw a man, next to an airplane, next to a little lorry, next to a pile of suitcases. The pile was getting smaller as he threw, one by one, each piece of baggage on to The Truck.
The heavens opened and lightning struck. The way I saw the world, in particular, baggage at airports, could never be the same again. It was not possible for me to return to the former state of innocence.
I was recently reminded of the following: "A mind once stretched can never regain its original shape". And this written long before the whole "neuroplasticity" thing took off!
When those moments of insight strike us, they do not take the shape of logical thought. In a flash, the way we see the world, ourselves, others, can turn through 180 degrees. Forever. We might want to struggle to recreate the moment, for fear we may lose it, but there is no need. Rest assured that that moment of insight is sealed in fresh synaptic synchronisation.
The way each of us sees the world today is the result of the experiences, learnings, beliefs and attitudes currently accumulated. It is not reality; it is a perceived version or interpretation of reality. A sudden insight can let in a chink of light that allows us to see how we have constructed our view of reality, and illuminate our misconception.
Once this has happened we can shut down, deny and fight to get our old version back, like a friendly old overcoat, or we can welcome the learning, allow it to permeate through all areas of our life and adapt accordingly, like a snake shedding its skin – again and again. This is an aspect of what Carol Dweck calls the Growth Mindset.
Rather than look to prove yourself right, look for ways you might have been wrong. Look for the cracks where the light can get in.