Some thoughts on life, change, and evolution.
The other day I was reading something about someone who was recounting his/her life and all the mistakes that had made him/her who he/she is, and at the end that person said something like, if he/she had to live his/her life over again, he/she would make each and every one of those mistakes all over again, because they would lead him/her to where he/she is now. So when I read this I was thoughtful for a moment with some contrary ideas. There was something so wise, and yet so foolish in that perspective. Wise because that person was recognizing the importance of making mistakes to improve, and is becoming aware that mistakes are a very important part of life. But at the same time foolish, because why would you go back to doing things that you know are wrong? Why, if we had the chance, would we make the same mistake over and over and over again? If you could live again, would you live this life exactly the same, eternally, without ever advancing to the next stage? Why would someone make the same mistakes again? The only reason a person would make the same mistake over and over again is because that person doesn't really think it was a mistake. If you did something in the past, and are willing to do it again, you are acknowledging that this is not a mistake but that it may even be a good thing, something desirable. If you are simply doing the exact same thing, over and over again, not wanting to improve, and if you need to make the same mistakes again to realize that they are mistakes, then there is no learning, no progress. You never go to the next level and get where you need to go, because you are never ready to do it. You must learn and move on.
Of course, perhaps what that person meant was that time had made him/her see that those mistakes he/she made during his/her life were not really mistakes. That there is no reason to regret it, and that he/she would not change anything about his/her life. But there is a difference between saying "I would not change the mistakes I have made in the past", to saying, "I would make them again."
It is a matter of evolution, I think. Because, well, it is commonly said that life is change, I agree, but what kind of change exactly? There are many. I think that life is evolution, that's the type of change. Now, we really have to define what evolution is, because we tend to have the idea that evolution is simply gradually becoming superior versions of ourselves. That's not accurate. Evolution, at least in biology, means adaptation. We change to adapt to equally changing circumstances. Not everything goes up in a linear way, in fact, it can go in many different directions. What happened to humans, according to scientists, is not that they all evolved "up". There were many who were evolving in different directions than we have now come. It is even possible that some went "backwards". Only they did not manage to survive and leave offspring. Survival of the fittest. However, this interpretation can be misleading, because, well, we say that the fittest survive, but at the same time, we say that they are fittest because they survive.
The view that evolution means progress occurs because, in retrospect, there appears to be progress. Even though such progress is a matter of prospects. We improve in some things, we get worse in others. However, what makes us evolve in one direction and not another? And, ultimately, what makes that direction in which we evolve, be progress? The answer is that what makes us evolve in one direction, and what makes that direction "better" than the others, what makes evolution many times synonymous with progress, is nothing but human decision. The reason why some survive and others don't is because some manage to reproduce and others don't. And the reason why some reproduce and leave offspring, and the others don't, is because, humans are collectively making a decision that it is better to reproduce with certain people over others, and to give prevalence to some qualities and characteristics over others. That is, the human is making a decision in which direction to go, when choosing a partner. The human mind is choosing where to evolve, and where not, unconsciously. And that is what makes one option better than another in our head, and that in our mind it seems that we are "progressing", because in reality, the minds of our ancestors have been deciding to go to this place. Obviously it is not necessarily a question of better or worse, as we would like to think, but of different paths and preferences.
So, evolution is not only a physical thing but also a mental thing. The mind is deciding where to evolve. The evolution that we have seen in society throughout history is nothing but the evolution of the human psyche. The greatest evolution in the history of the universe has been the evolution of consciousness. But, returning to the example at the beginning, if our mind chooses to remain in error again and again and again, it is to be suspected that our mind is not evolving, because it is not assimilating that what it is doing is wrong, therefore there is no apparent change, and therefore there is little or no evolution or progress. This causes a loop, in which that person is destined to repeat his or her mistakes indefinitely until he or she is able to learn from them and move forward. I will end with that, saying once again that life is evolution, and everything in this universe, not only us, is evolving, changing and adapting. It is up to us to learn from our experience and make this evolution a good thing.
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