I wonder if Ibrahim’s palms were damp as he walked his son to the summit. Did he tell him they were going on a hike? Did he take water? I think he must have glared at the knife until his reflection was part of the blade. I think relief must have replaced his horror when he unsheathed his knife and recognized his face. He must have known that what he was to do was of such significance it had already become who he was, and so he offered both his son and himself to the kinzhal’s edge.
— A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Anthony Marra
I think the biggest lesson my dad wanted to teach me — the one he still regularly reinforces — is his firm belief that we become what we think about. Being an engineer, he acted on this concept the best way he knew how: by ensuring my input was as diverse as possible. On the day I was born he ordered the complete collection of Encyclopaedia Brittanica and accompanying Great Authors series. Every year he bought a new dictionary for my birthday. He made me write down and map goals, and he still sends me newsletters or ideas he finds edifying. His entire approach to the mind revolves around keeping the software up to date.
On some level I guess we know that idea to be true: a single thought, the suspicion of a thing, or the significance of some future event can so affect us that we get chills, can almost literally feel ourselves transforming.
Scientifically the idea is sound. I've read a lot lately that we can change our synaptic patterns based on actions, new habits, new input, even thoughts. Synaptic pathways define who we are, generally speaking, during those autopilot moments when you're just feeling and reacting to things.
So next time you find yourself snagged in a debate about determinism versus free will, you'll have an explanation for why it's neither and both.
What is "Inklust"? Boy am I glad you asked. Here's the manifesto: part I and part II.