Side Chat: A mind-blowing, time-bending analogy


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Have you ever heard something that felt so true that it resonated in your very bones? Even if you couldn’t explain why you knew it was true? You just knew.

That’s how I felt when I read this passage from the end of Elizabeth Gilbert’s mega-bestselling book Eat, Pray, Love:

“The Zen Buddhists say that an oak tree is brought into creation by two forces at the same time. Obviously, there is the acorn from which it all begins, the seed which holds all the promise and potential, which grows into the tree. Everybody can see that.

But only a few can recognize that there is another force operating here as well — the future tree itself, which wants so badly to exist that it pulls the acorn into being, drawing the seedling forth with longing out of the void, guiding the evolution from nothingness to maturity. In this respect, say the Zens, it is the oak tree that creates the very acorn from which it was born.”

I mean, damn, right?

In this brand new clarity-on-fire-side-chat (…get it?) Kristen and I are putting on our philosopher’s hats (debatable whether we ever took them off in the first place) and diving into this whole acorn/oak tree thing. We’re talking about:

  • What is the point of desire? Why do we crave certain things and not others? And what does it mean for you to want something?
  • Why we believe desire isn’t random (and why wanting something might just be proof that you’re eventually going to get it — yes, you read that right).
  • The relativity of time, and why the veil between the present, past, and future might be thinner than any of us realize (no big deal).
  • Some mind-blowing facts about the Universe that put our itsy-bitsy problems into perspective.
  • A fun exercise to help you communicate with your past and future selves (sounds creepy, but isn’t).

If you like deep conversations, there’s nothing better than this one! Enjoy, and come leave a comment after you’ve listened to share your own deep thoughts.


8 Comments // ADD COMMENT


  • Molly

    What a fun and interesting blend of pop culture and philosophy! I enjoyed the past/present/future self exercise…I found it very calming. And really appreciated the Harry Potter reference – made me think specifically of when he tells Hermione he knew he could conjure the patronus because he’d already done it! It might help to think that way about our own futures. Lastly, the shape of time discussion was incredibly timely to this week’s Good Place, “Jeremy Bearimy.” I had a junior high science teacher who used to say, “Coincidence, or consequence? Either way, it’s a connection.”

    • Rachel East

      Omg, I’m so glad you saw this week’s episode of the Good Place!! I thought the “Jeremy Bearimy” thing was SO funny in light of what we talked about. And I hadn’t thought about Harry’s Patronus, but that’s such a good example, too! 🙂

  • Leah Renter

    Love it! Why can’t we just talk about this stuff all the time in life?? I think it’s humbling and takes some pressure off. If you think you’ve taken a wrong path and screwed up your whole future, don’t flatter yourself; you’re not that powerful. I have been repeating a mantra lately (paraphrased and not sure the source) — “What’s meant for you, you cannot miss.” Basically reminds me that I don’t need to strive or resist, but will naturally find the path that’s meant to be!

    • Rachel East

      Exactly! I love “don’t flatter yourself, you’re not that powerful.” 😉

  • Cassie

    I have such a hard time letting things be the way they are without trying to control them. But life is so much easier when I just let the universe do its thing. I know what field I’m meant to work in and who my future colleagues will be. I know who I’m going to be with in a romantic way, too. I just don’t know how it’s all going to tie together or when it’s going to happen. It can really be maddening sometimes because I am not a patient person!

    • Rachel East

      Amen, Cassie! It’s really hard to be patient and just let go of control. But you’re right, life is way easier (and often far better) when we get out of our own way and just let it work out the way it’s supposed to. I think it’s really cool that you have such a strong intuitive sense about what you’re meant to do (and who you’re meant to be with, as well!). If you’ve got such a strong knowing, then it’s all inevitable. And if it’s undoubtedly going to happen, then you can relax and see how it all comes to you. 🙂

  • Alyx

    This episode has been saved so I can go back to repeat listens. As Molly commented, it really IS the “Jeremy Bearimy” way…just imagining future Liz Gilbert being the person who told past Liz to go to bed just sent my mind on different wavelength. It’s so crazy. Still processing everything and looking forward to listening all over again.

    • Kristen Walker

      I know, it’s a LOT to process, right? It’s mind-bending, in the best way. Glad you’re bookmarking it to listen again! This is the kind of thing that might hit you a totally different way, depending on your current headspace at the time.