Life As A Feedback Loop

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I thought the history of our lives was something we were constantly moving away from as we traveled into the future.

Maybe not. Rather, I now think life is more like a feedback loop.

For example, art is a feedback loop.

Twenty thousand years ago, painted figures of animals on the walls of caves in Europe were stunningly natural, three dimensional with vivid color. Then it seemed we lost that talent, only to have it pop up again around 500 BC when that kind of natural beauty reappeared in classical Greek art. Then it disappeared again. Then reappeared in the 1400’s during the Italian Renaissance.

What’s up?

I’m no art history expert, but still, what’s up? It may be that art born of human creativity is circular. It hits a point and then circles back and repeats itself. Even Pablo Picasso thought as much. When he first saw the cave art of twenty thousand years ago he is reported to have said, “We’ve learned nothing new about art.”

Why does this matter?

For me, I have found that as I push forward in life with new experiences, sometimes I find myself coming back to a rediscovery of my younger life. For example, I have a photo of my mother and me when I was five. For most of my life I didn’t pay much attention to the photo. Then all of the sudden, I started taking notice of it. I remembered the day it was taken. My mother had just returned home from giving birth to my sister. She was wearing a beautiful soft pink silk robe; I was wearing a blue and black plaid shirt with suspenders.

The more attention I paid to the photo, the more I realized I hadn’t lost a sense of my younger self. There was a connection between who I was and who I am. I was the same person. The little me hadn’t been lost to the bigger me. It was the same me. I was as conscious of who I was then, as I am of myself now. It was as though I was living in a pleasant feedback loop.

That’s when I started thinking about the idea of life as a feedback loop. We think of our lives as moving away from who we were to whom we have become. But, in reality we remain the same person. We may try to cover up that fact, but that’s all it is – a cover up, or maybe just a temporary forgetting. For me it has been an experience of getting in touch with myself, of becoming one person. It was one of the nice moments of self discovery in my life.

You may think you move from who you were to whom you have become. You may even strongly believe that you have left behind the child you were, and have become the adult you are. But my experience is telling me something different. In life as a feedback loop, you begin to revisit yourself, and discover you never left yourself. You are neither adult nor child, you’re you.