The next stage of evolution probably begins with this simple idea.
Do you remember that 90s TV show, Lois and Clark – The New Adventures of Superman?
Anyway, there’s one scene where Louis opens Clark / Superman’s fridge in his apartment, and there’s nothing in it buy chocolate and candy bars. She then looks quizzically at Clark, with his bulging biceps and chiselled physique.
Pure fantasy. And that is what comics do – they let you indulge in a fantasy of effortless power. That you can be a being that can punch through walls, jump over buildings, or take a bullet – and you never really have to do anything to deserve it. No training required, just exposure to the right meteorites or radioactive spiders.
Comics give us relief – for a moment there we are liberated from the disciplines of daily life.
Life is hard work. Showing up to your practices, watching what you eat. It takes effort.
But as we become collectively wiser, I feel like some of it is getting easier.
Like healthy eating for example. I think we all understand now that we are what we eat. That everything you consume has real consequences.
When I was a kid it wasn’t so nuanced. A slab of meat between two white pieces of bread was a healthy meal.
(And in a historical context, it was!)
But it’s getting easier now to be much more careful with what we consume. Food companies are giving us healthier options. Supermarkets have a health food isle. We see lots of examples on TV of people losing weight or staying buff.
Eating super healthy used to mean forging your own path and growing your own lentils. The healthy roads are much easier to follow these days.
(Junk food roads are much easier too, so I guess its swings and round-abouts.)
But there’s something in this that gets me excited. That makes me feel like we’re looking at the seed for a level-shift in human consciousness.
Because the central plank in the you-are-what-you-eat philosophy is responsibility. Healthy is a choice. Whatever you do has consequences. If you eat well, your body will show the benefits. If you exercise regularly, your health improves.
But you have to make the choice. You’re not Superman. You can’t get away with eating nothing but candy bars. You need to get a firm grip on the reins and learn some self-control.
You need to take responsibility.
And when I look at it, when I see people taking responsibility for their diet, I get excited. Because in that, they’re learning the disciplines of life-building. They’re doing the research so they know what the right choice to make is, and then their learning the discipline required to make that choice, week in, week out.
If you can master your relationship to food, then really, you can master anything.
And what’s the next step in this?
I think that just as we now accept that we-are-what-we-eat, soon we’ll all accept that we-are-what-we-think.
The way I see it, everything we take in needs to be digested – it needs to be processed. If you eat a tonne of sugar, then you’re body needs to deal with it. It turns it into fats and you live with the consequences.
Likewise, if you watch horror movies or watch the mainstream news regularly, and take in all that fear and horror and helplessness, you need to process it somehow.
Maybe you go into the forest and scream and let yourself quiver and shake for a bit until you get it out of your system. Maybe you process it.
But I don’t know many people who do that. For most people it remains undigested. The fear gunks up in our system, and we live with a lingering, nameless dread.
(I don’t really know what the processing mechanism is. I suspect a lot of it happens in our sleep.)
But it’s not just the outside world we need to watch. We’re also processing our inner-voice. And if that inner voice is a hyper-critical tyrant, then we live with the consequences – we’re weighed down by self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy.
But there are healthy choices we can make. We can be vigilant with the media we consume, and we can make sure we only choose the fear-mongering platforms as a special treat, if at all.
We can also retrain our inner voice, so it’s more supportive soccer-mum than ruthless tyrant. (Easier said than done!)
But I think soon we will realise that we are what we think – that the mental stimulus we consume has real and lasting consequences.
And if we want to know the joy of walking lightly in a bright and sunny mental landscape, then we need to be really careful with the ideas we are consuming.
But once we all get on the same page with that? Oh boy, look out.
Heaven on earth.
Do you watch what you think carefully?