An anthropology professor told me that in some cultures people like to play a game called “what if everything is a message for you”. It’s a great game because it promotes regular reflection and introspection, always a healthy thing to do. I also like it because when seen in this way, it is irrelevant whether divine forces really are trying to talk to us or not; it’s just a healthy habit to adopt.
Relevant here is the reticular activating system: the part of the brain whose job it is to distinguish relevant input from the mass of sensory data that we receive constantly. It’s the part of the brain that sees Volkswagen Jettas everywhere immediately after you purchase one, or wakes mom up from the slightest whimper of her infant two rooms over while otherwise sleeping soundly in an urban environment. The reticular activating system naturally likes to play this game and makes you excellent at it (though it’s not as good at sniffing out metaphors). Let me get you started with examples:
- Toilet clogged? Where are you having trouble eliminating shit from your life?
- Joint problems? Where are you inflexible?
- Throat trouble? How are you at speaking up for yourself?