Auto Pilot

Before I tell you any more about my dyslexia, I want to say something about Auto Pilot. Auto Pilot is an intriguing thought, just as Cruise Control is–but you know there was that lady who thought Cruise Control just made her car autonomous and got in a big crash, so there are definitely problems with humans, if not Cruise Control.

Auto Pilot, does make an airplane autonomous–at least while it’s in the sky. I think, when it comes to animals, Auto Pilot is the same as instinct. It’s the thing that tells them to eat, mate, and do whatever it is they do–without reflection or a deeper understanding of why they do it.

Yesterday, I was on my way to see some friends, and I had a transfer at a major bus terminal. It was around 5 so a lot of commuters were there going this way and that, transferring buses, checking smartphones, etc. And as I watched all these people going about their day, it struck me that they also looked as though they were on Auto Pilot. A bit like ants. They looked as though they were slaves to their habits, they did the things they did because that’s just how it goes when you’re a working professional with an atomic family and a white picket fence–and you ride the bus only because Seattle traffic is the worst.

Of course, I don’t know if this is true, but I do believe there’s a substantial part of our culture (and so population) that has grown to the idea that emotions are not something we, as humans, can control. Therefore when you act based on those emotions you’re acting according to your biology, your animal instinct (though commuting on buses has nothing to do with instinct). However, I think this concept is harmful to people–this concept that if you feel something, you can’t change it, and you can’t act against it, so you just go with it, and you complete an action the fulfills that feeling–you are on Auto Pilot. The problem with this is, there is always another feeling after you’ve gratified the one you just had, and so the cycle is continuous. You become a willing slave to your own biology. Because if you just wait and sit and feel the emotion that’s in you, you can actually decide what the best course of action is. It’s like when someone feels bad, so they eat something sugary, because sugar releases dopamine in your brain, you feel better. The person wasn’t actually aware they felt bad, but they weren’t particularly hungry either–they ate sugar to feel better without knowing.

I think we can all accept that humans are a special type of animal. We can reason and reflect on our own actions in a way that other animals cannot. So why don’t people reflect on their emotions–feel it–weigh your options, then act accordingly? Much of the time the best action is not dictated by your emotions–but sometimes it is. Now self awareness and self reflection isn’t easy, but the reward is a more autonomous lifestyle. Instead of being governed by your biology, you take control of it, and govern your actions, your body, and your life, with your mind.

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