If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thru' narrow chinks of his cavern.
– William Blake
We operate in the world by representing it in simplified forms. Just as a roadmap eliminates trees, buildings – anything that might distract the driver from the task of navigation, our cognitive schema are simplified abstract representations of places, people, and situations that enable us to take action even in circumstances where we have a very limited idea of what’s going on.
The brain operates in this way because it’s necessary to our survival. When opportunity arises, the hunter cannot pause, awestruck by the unique configuration of his prey’s antlers. But schema can also become inflexible, limiting our ability to process the complexities of the world. Now, especially, at a time when the human world is changing faster than ever, we need to be wary of our tendency to foreclose on reality – to identify patterns prematurely. This openness to experience is the essence of creativity, and it is essential to success in th 21st century.