The passionless existence of a labeled world

Matt Hogan
3 min readJun 16, 2024

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With intentional pause, it doesn’t take long to notice the frequency with which life is placed, explained, and navigated through countless labels and categorizations.

A function of the mind that supports efficiency, survival, and the perception of understanding. A function that has its threshold for usefulness.

Recently, I spent two days working with one of my clients. We spent the first day wandering around an open forest. We paused only to discuss and engage around areas of his life that mattered most.

As we sat up against two trees, I asked him about his ability to experience a tree vs thinking about it. We went further into this pointing out that a ‘tree’ is only an agreed-upon label.

When you call a ‘tree’ a ‘tree’, it doesn’t mean you understand it.

Nor does it equate to experiencing the thing called ‘tree’. I watched him for about 20 minutes as he focused his gaze and attention on the ‘tree’.

After time had passed, I asked what he experienced.

He shared that he had brief moments of experiencing a ‘tree’ in his thoughts. His mind was describing it, its colors, shapes, etc.

Then, when he observed this happening, he was able to redirect himself where he was looking at the ‘tree’, and had moved the narrative about it to the side.

He was engaging the same physical object in an entirely different way.

This experience cannot be described.

It must be experienced.

For there to be motivation to practice this, that may require seeing the inherent limitations of experiencing life through thoughts, ideas, and labels.

Before offering other examples, these questions may support you.

1) Have I ever been told it seems I am distant/not present with people around me?

2) Have I ever felt called to a different experience of life, but could not seem to think my way into the answer?

3) Have I ever believed I’m missing out on something deeper/more rewarding in life, but could not name what it is?

Answer these before proceeding.

As another example, it is one thing to say “I feel angry”. It’s another to feel the experience of the ‘emotion’, without any labels to name it.

To label an emotion is not to experience it.

You experience sensations in your body.

The way you describe the sensations, as well, is not the direct experience.

Labels can be a useful mental exercise to navigate life. However, they need to be right-sized to their value and limitations.

If you are seeking to feel more alive, more passion, and fullness….Passion is dead without a deeper sensational experience of life. There needs to be a right-sized tendency to experience the world through a sea of thoughts.

A final example.

There’s a significant difference between experiencing sex and thinking about it. Thinking about ‘sex’ in the mind, through a sea of thoughts, is not the same as the physical, emotional, and spiritual experience of it.

Smile and nod your head, because you know this to be true.

Today, where can you play with this?

Where can you observe your capacity to experience a conversation, a person, an activity, beyond the ideas and thoughts about it?

Take note of even a brief moment where it feels like you touched on something different, deeper, or unique from what you have been used to.

Thank you for reading.

Be well,
Matthew

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Matt Hogan

Coaching Leaders & Executives to Find Purpose, Clarity, and Alignment. | World Traveler | Soul Seeker | I help you through the hard sh*t.