The Audience That Isn’t There

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. — Matthew 18:2-4

Sometimes when I sit down to write these posts, I can feel my mind trying to imagine the people who may view it.  But then I remember that in reality I do not know who is going to read this.  Of course there are a few people who visit it with some regularity, but really who am I to try and determine how they will receive what I write?  Even if someone called me and told me, “As soon as you post your next blog I’m going to read it,” the influence that that awareness would have on how I composed the post would still be some crap I was making up.  Even if I knew the person better than I knew anyone else in the world and lived with them every day of their lives, my thoughts about them would be nothing more than a highly educated and informed guess.  It’s all a guess what’s going on in the mind of people.  The fact is that there is no one around me as I am writing. Even you who are reading it now was not here when I wrote it, so if I tell myself I am writing for you or to you, I am lying to myself.  There is no audience influencing me that is independent of my imagination.  There is no objective audience.  Ever.

As I follow that line of thinking, I surmise that this could go for every engagement accept for those between babies and whatever or whoever they’re engaged with.  For them, they are only doing what they’re doing.  They’re not thinking about what other people think about what they’re doing–until we program them to do so–so there’s no need to project a made up audience onto the world to protect themselves from getting hurt or from or for getting approval.  I’m tempted to wonder if I make any sense with these statements.  But make sense to who? I am increasingly convinced that whatever I write and what someone else reads are two independent things. Much like with what I say. No one reads my blog ans no one is listening.  If they stumble upon what is on this page or get something out of what I said, they are simply seeing what they have prepared their minds to see.  They see their expectations reflected back to them in a form that, depending on different factors, can appear as either a very close approximation of what I put out there or something so foreign from what I created that it could have just as well been communicated in Martian.  This is a fancy way of saying that, in my opinion, most of us people see what we want to see, which actually results in us seeing very little of what is actually present.

Just now the saying, “So and so will turn over in their grave if they saw blankity blank”, came up as a prime example.  I’ll just say it; that saying makes no sense.  No one is turning over in any grave unless there is an earthquake.  All that silly saying says to me is that a person was oppressed by some person’s thoughts when that person was alive and now they are oppressed by them when the person is dead, because the power of the audience that isn’t there never dies.  If the person were an objective audience member and not a fictional character in our head their influence would end when they left the auditorium of life.  But since they were in our head in the first place them being dead or alive is of no consequence as long as the person projecting them chooses to continue to do so.  Death is just a minor detail for the persistent audience projector.  Even if they accepted that the person was dead and they weren’t using that line of thinking to say they would turn over in their grave, all they would do is find another living person to project that influence onto.  In my experience, that is what most people do on everything from their own children to God.

I think that is why Jesus said we can only enter the kingdom if we are converted into children.  I see him as saying, “Clean the lens through which you are seeing the world, because what you are seeing is not the world as it is–as God created it.”  To me that is what heaven is–the world as it is and not simply what we see based on our programming.  When Job got schooled by the God character in the Hebrew Bible for whining about his life all he could say after God basically let him know how little he knew was:

“I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
Listen, please, and let me speak;
You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes.” –Job 42:2-6

In other words, “I don’t know what the h*** I was saying, I am turning around and going in the opposite direction of where my pride took me.”  I’ve heard that a lot of people have a difficult time with Job, but I like it because it keeps it real.  It calls out our cluelessness point blank. And personally I think wisdom begins with admitting when we don’t know something.  And the fact is when we feel compelled to project an audience that is made up in our heads onto others or simply into the world, we really know very little about what is really going on around us.  So here is a question to leave you or just myself with, “Who would you be if no one [real or imagined] was watching you?”

Dance like no one is watching–because they aren’t.

 

 

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