I just read The Four Agreements (most of it, at least) and one concept that stuck with me is the Miguel Ruiz’s notion of mitote. He describes mitote as the “1000 tiny voices in our head telling us what to do.” When I read this I immediately understood what he was speaking of and I would guess that most others do as well. I wish I had learned this term earlier as it cuts to the core of our complexity and contradictions.

We are those thousand tiny voices. At times it may make sense for us think of ourselves as one unified entity, but the reality is that we are all composed of what seems like an almost infinite number of sub-beings. Any time we make one decision there was a part of us that might have made another. We like to act as if this isn’t the case. Sometimes it’s obvious that we’re teetering on a decision.

For me, this often happens when I’m trying to order food. One moment I want one dish, the next I want another. If I’m lucky I have someone to split both with. More often, I have to choose one, and there’s no right decision, because either one I choose will make me wonder if I should have chosen the other. It’s the worst, and it’s because the multiple voices inside us co-exist.

I’d like to think there’s some orderly mechanism inside us that carefully sifts through information, like a diligent analyst, and weighs decisions against one another on their merits. This is how we imagine government ought to work. In reality, it seems our brain is like the real government in that loudest voices, rather than best ideas, are what ultimately win out. But, what of the voices we can’t hear?

You might argue that your mind clear and the only voices you hear is your single stream in the moment. At a time you may only perceive one stream, but those other voices are there. Our subconscious mind is constantly running. There, the voices lounge amongst each other playing cards and cutting the backroom deals that deceive our waking sensibilities as we surprise ourselves, for better worse. That’s why sometimes feel like we have acted against our own will.

Our mitote is always there and is the essence of our being. If you can’t see it, you’re ignoring it. It may seem better to filter to the single stream. The mitote can be chaotic and overwhelming, but it is in its infinitude the truth of awareness. There is a trade off in clarity for simplicity. Maybe it’s unhealthy to, or we simply can’t, always and dully listen to our mitote, but I am enjoying restoration attention to mine.

In pursuit of magic