The Dukes of Haz(z)ard; driving with the heart

For all the heroes of the heart I have the privilege of meeting on my journey. You keep me on my track.

Yeeeeeeeeeee-haw!”
Luke and Bo Duke

Every now and then I meet people who decided on some radical change, a break with the past, a new beginning, or people not so radical, but consistently pursuing a life less ordinary, away from the beaten track. The reactions they receive from friends and family around them can roughly be put into two categories: they are either crazy, or very brave. The funny thing is that these so-called ‘radicals’ and non-conformists hardly ever recognize themselves in either. Why is that?

I am an airplane
‘To be crazy’ means that you are not thinking right, that you don’t value the consequences of your actions correctly. By definition a crazy person cannot recognize himself as such, because he is ignorant of any fallacy in his thinking. He is the victim of an intellect out of commission, a defunct brain; he is someone whose thinking capacities have expired. No sane person would move in the direction he has chosen. Of course, what sanity is remains open for debate and is certainly relative to the qualities of each person and his circumstances. For instance, if you believe you are an airplane, it doesn’t really matter if you are you or if you are Brad Pitt, you’ll both be crazy, but if you believe you will shag Angelina Jolie tonight, this makes a world of difference.

A brave person is no crazy person. He can only be brave to the extent that he is aware of the hazards and risks he is taking, but takes them nevertheless. He has studied the possible consequences of his actions and given them due consideration, but that doesn’t keep him from the task he has set out for himself. The thing is that in the end, risks and hazards are merely variables that can be cancelled out by taking opportunities and possible gain into account. So why do some people take the plunge while others don’t?  

I think not, therefore I am
Confronted with the choice of which path to follow we are advised by our emotional memory and our intellect. Emotional advice is based on past experiences, on how we felt about the consequences of choices we made in the past. Our intellect advises us on the possible outcome of the choice at hand. Of course there are people who take desperate measures and discard both. They may think along the lines of: nothing has worked in the past; I am still in a shit situation, so I might as well try something new. I haven’t come across this all or nothing approach often however, and it is hardly the most promising attitude to have when one sets out for the unknown.

The answer to why someone dares to choose an opposite direction or make a clean break with the past, I think, is to be found in the related concepts of necessity and faith. People who experience both tend to think more with the heart than with the mind. Instead of evaluating circumstances, opportunities and motives to death, they judge on intuition. They don’t let themselves be held back by past traumas or future uncertainties. They live in the here and now and find they are perfectly capable to do so. 

The crucial thing here is that the necessity I speak of is not external, but internal. The brave man has made up his mind, because it feels right, and nothing will come in the way of him achieving his goal, whatever it may be (of course, if his goal is lifting the Mount Everest with his bare hands we can go back to questioning his mental abilities). It seems that a lot of us have lost this trust, precisely because we are so mindful, thinking constantly in terms of ‘what if’ and then mostly about the bad things that might happen to us.

Cat power
If a cat stands hesitantly before a narrow ridge meters above the ground, she is not contemplating the awful injuries she might inflict upon herself should she fall down; she doesn’t ponder over the instances where she might slip or how an unexpected gust of wind might put her off balance; she simply hasn’t decided yet whether she wants to cross the ridge in the first place. She knows that she can keep her balance; she knows that she can improvise when unanticipated obstacles occur and she knows that if she does fall, she’ll manage to land on her feet. This doesn’t mean a cat doesn’t think, it only means that a cat thinks solely about where she wants to go and what she wants to do. Does that make a cat courageous?

We all know how powerful we feel when we have confronted ourselves with some fear and ignored it, conquered it, and found that the fear was irrational. In fact the fear was very rational and by overcoming it we discovered that we are capable of more than we think, literally. Once you start doing that more often, you come to trust yourself more and more and you learn to take yourself as the source of your actions. And the weird thing is,

all of a sudden the world seems to accommodate these actions. You come to trust the world and everything and everyone around you more and more, in equal pace with the growing trust you have in yourself. You start to believe that things will go the way they are supposed to go and maybe even that they happen for a reason. And although this may be a trick of the mind, and no assurance that there is a higher purpose for anything; although this doesn’t mean that there is a God with some master plan, you start to have faith. You come to realize that it is your being true to your heart, to your dreams, and your acting upon them, that makes this all happen, and from then on it is impossible to ignore it. It becomes a necessary course of action.

Time for some Yee-haw!
The reason why many of the non-conformists and self-directing individuals feel somewhat uncomfortable when they are called courageous is that for them, their decisions and actions come as natural as breathing. Only the first step took courage: the one where they decided to free themselves and to stop taking directions exclusively from the mind, and in most cases, that decision was taken long ago.

The mind is a tool, nothing more, and these individuals know this. You don’t ask your navigator where to go, you tell it where to go, but as long as you don’t trust your heart, there is no one behind the wheel.

Now does that sound crazy to you?

Wijnand Boon