Are you regular or premium? | Opinion

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There’s a service station on the road of life that exists to fuel your “mental vehicle.” It has two pumps that you can choose from —- regular or premium.

Regular offers a standard grade, which has the benefit of a lower cost and less intellectual challenge. Most folks fill up with regular throughout their lifetime. Unfortunately, it provides the user with less brainpower and often causes the mind to coast.

Premium is only useful for deluxe minds. It’s higher in cost and octane. It empowers its users to think for themselves. If pumped into the wrong model, the driver may have a breakdown and pay costly repairs to get the lead out. The wrong fuel could steer the user into the school of hard knocks.

When our mental vehicle is new, we need an attendant to fill our tank. As a new owner, we’re completely unaware that we have a choice of pumps. We have no thoughts, no experience, no questions until we hit the road ourselves.

Our first attendants are our parents. They believe they have our best interests at heart. We are too new and inexperienced to drive our own mind so they chose our schools, teachers, clergy, and they squeeze the nozzle and pump our “identity” into us.

They don’t even realize that they are limited by their own make and model. Their parents, and those who preceded them ad infinitum, each depended on their own predecessors to pass their particular identity along. Their identity became our identity by default.

We received the gasoline of their choice from the the station of their choice. They, nor we, ever considered that our self-concept was based solely on our ancestors’ journey.

Our mind sat safely strapped in our carseat in the rear of their vehicle. We were just along for the ride. We were nourished on regular fuel. We drank in what they pumped into us without question.

When someone asked us “who are you?” we’d confidently parrot our country, religion, sex and skin pigment that we’re born into. That made our parents proud — and reenforced our certainty about who we are. We couldn’t have known it was a scam — a shell game.

Steve West

Steve West (Mort Mazor / Courtesy / South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

We never supposed that if we’d been born to other parents in another place, at another time, with another skin, into another religion. our answer to “who are you?” would be consistent with those other circumstances.

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Sometime down the road, our mind earns its license to think for itself. At that time, we can choose our own station and grade of brain fuel. Most of us stay with regular dispensed comfortably from a familiar station — but now we have the power to choose.

The moment we have this epiphany, we’re qualified for premium. Our mind is ready to evaluate the baggage that we carry from our regular upbringing.

We’ve always believed we were nothing more than the labels that were pumped into us by our predecessors. Knowing that, we have the choice and our shell game is over.

We now have the power to drive down the roadmap of our own wishes and ambitions. It’s our choice to stay the course or steer for new destinations. It’s called “finding ourself.” We can do it at any age.

Perhaps the best part of running on premium is putting our mind in gear to understand and accept the others whose parents programmed them as ours did us. We are all one. Enjoy the ride!

Steve West is a social justice advocate and entrepreneur living in Delray Beach.

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