One of our Chill team recently asked an open question – are our experiences in life a reflection of our beliefs?
I feel that’s true to some extent, at least that we’re most likely to process our experiences through the framework of our beliefs, and that our brains actually work much harder than we realise to make everything fit together. “The Political Brain” by Drew Westen explores the latest research behind this.
But there is plenty going on which we can’t control or even make sense of. A friend fell off his bike a couple of weeks ago and is currently in hospital with brain injury. That’s a big shock for him and everyone who knows him. It’s a life-defining “kairos” experience.
I think this is because it doesn’t reflect but challenges so many basic beliefs like:
- bikes which appear to be in good repair should not suddenly fall apart (without that belief, would you ever get on one?)
- riding home from work should be straightforward if you know what you are doing (and this person is an expert cyclist)
- life should let us take control of our circumstances (“self help” presumes on our power to do this, but connection with reality can be a very difficult shock out of this)
Thank God, he is recovering. It’s been a kairos for him, his family, friends, colleagues, everyone who knows him or saw what happened. I’m sure our beliefs will shape how we look back on the event and help with his rehab. But everyone who engages with the experience and learns from this kairos will be changed by it. I’m sure the learning which results will be good, despite the pain we would rather have avoided.
So while we could try and avoid the shocks and choose define life purely by our beliefs – a logical extension of this is “cosmic ordering” where we expect our needs to be met according to our demands – real life, I think, is not so straightforward, and not always how we would want. But we need to engage with kairos moments if we’re going to live a full life, and to live a chilled life we need to learn and grow from them.