Two Ice Floes – A Case Study

The concept of Two Ice Floes came about years back when Cog was explaining to me his view of reality and the difference between the world we seem to live in and our inner self. The world as it is presented to us, dubbed the Matrix for those Hollywood savvy moviegoers, appears to be a linear system where we are born, programmed, attain levels of success or failure according to systems in place, and then we eventually die. Often the world supplies us with a navigational belief system through family, church, government education, hard knocks or a lack of/combination of them. Deep down inside, most people know there is more, even if they never venture far enough to put their finger on it.

For people who are bold enough to look for the elusive missing piece of the puzzle, they often discover a whole new world inside themselves without limits or constraints or rules. Venture in far enough and one finds we are each an artist with the ability to create the very reality we exist in. Understanding this has provided Cog and I with a platform to discuss everything at home in a conversational way most people avoid like the plague.

Why do humans measure their worth in money? Do we even need money to trade value in an advanced civilization? Does freedom lie outside us, granted by ruling bodies, or is it inside our Self once we unlock our own magic doors within? If power is always corruptible, thus corrupted, is self-governance the real solution? How do we act accordingly once we understand the nature of people and the systems that direct them?

Now imagine being a typical American teenager, armed with an iPhone, social media, and bombarded with all the programming vehicles of public education and popular culture used to mold modern kids. It seems impossible that upon reaching 18, a young adult would be able to think for themselves or regularly apply true critical thinking.

Miraculously, this is just what has happened to our teen, the youngest of our six children.

From a very young age, Izzy knew exactly what she wanted. She stated in a matter of fact way she would one day be valedictorian, and when she grew up she wanted to make prosthetic limbs for people. As parents are prone to do, we praised her for her ambitious dreams and knew one day her goals would change; reality in the ‘real’ world, or the so-called Matrix, would direct her towards new paths.

It was about a decade ago this sweet kid firmly proclaimed her targets. Since then, she has had the privilege (or curse) of growing up with parents who don’t mince words. Like all kids, Izzy has listened and absorbed years of in-house programming from the Long Conversation between Cognitive Dissonance and me.

But what would compel a kid who knows much of what she is being taught in any given high school class is inaccurate or false to settle for nothing less than an “A” anyway? Where did she find the fortitude to endure 95% of her teachers not capable of critical thinking? Why would Izzy continue to soar according to the standards set by the faux system when that very system continuously penalized her for being an over-achiever in the system they put in place for her?

I suppose one might expect her to just dismiss the ramblings of her quirky parents. It would have been understandable for a modern teen, completely plugged into social media, to roll her eyes and ignore Ma & Pa Cog droning on about how no one can ‘make us’ do anything. And that we too are responsible for the corrupt system we watch crumbling in real time. After all these years, you’d think she would either embrace our general philosophy of self-examination and self-reliance while largely condemning the Matrix, or conversely dismiss us and run like hell for the exits.

But a funny thing happened on her way to graduation……Izzy embraced both Ice Floes.

Knowing that big global changes are happening, rather than look away or anesthetize herself in any distraction she can find, she increasingly pays attention. Armed with the knowledge, and more recently the experience, that the rules are constantly changing, and that any given game could end in two weeks, two months, two years or even take decades, Izzy carefully observes while she dives in head first to do precisely what she set out to do, And she adapts as she goes.

Next week, Izzy will graduate number one in her class. She did exactly what she was told to do by the system and never even received one B in any of her classes. After years of us cajoling, even bribing her to put down the darned books, the brass ring was hers. There was just one little problem. The officials changed the rules.

Not long ago, the school board changed the criteria for graduating with honors. They decided it wasn’t fair to have a valedictorian. To allow one student who excelled above all others to be honored for being the best just didn’t seem fair to them. In their ‘everyone gets a participation trophy world’, all kids who had high GPA’s should be honored equally. She is now in a group of summa cum laude grads with no acknowledgement of her #1 rank. The rules were further changed to allow speakers at graduation to be selected by a popular vote, which of course resulted in the coolest kids being handed the ultimate reward Izzy thought she’d been earning for years.

Over the past two weeks we have attended three different awards ceremonies with Izzy. They were programs where trophies, certificates and scholarships were presented. Long story short, the rewards for sports programs and the scholarship awards for local agricultural college programs far out-weighed being at the top of the class academically. Several small scholarships, the equivalent of a polite pat on the head, were awarded to Izzy (for which she was grateful) as she watched her classmates receive far bigger accolades and monetary awards.

I waited for the explosion from Izzy. If it had been me, I would have lost my cool long ago. She had done all the right things. She exceeded their academic bar. She had participated in music, theatre, sports and academic clubs. In her senior year she was president of the art club and created and taught an art class at her high school for kids in the Special Ed class. She then arranged funding through the local Rotary Club for it to continue next year after she has graduated.

What kind of school doesn’t honor and highlight a kid like this? It’s akin to watching responsible elderly Americans who played by the rules, lived modest lives and saved as they were instructed for retirement, only to have the security of their hard earned endgame yanked out from beneath them because those in charge changed all the rules before the reward could be claimed.

But Izzy never exploded. There were a few tears and solemn afternoons spent digesting reality as it was continuously served up to her. But the string of disappointments, both large and small from the very system she was navigating to the top, never knocked her off her game. It would have been so easy for her to become angry and resentful, full of righteous indignation. Or conversely, to accept that she was a plebe to be trampled over at will by any given group who could seize authority to direct her path and control her future.

I watched Izzy closely, thinking she was suppressing her feelings. But it just wasn’t the case. She allowed herself to experience the emotions, then she simply let them go and rose above wallowing in the unfairness of it all. Truthfully I was, and continue to be, floored.

She is a much bigger person than I am. I may be a Damn Yankee in the South, but on more than one occasion I was set to unleash my inner redneck on the school administration and even the local school board. What decent parent wouldn’t be furious when their child, who had worked so hard for their entire academic career, doing everything she was told to do and more, was then told “Sorry”, it wouldn’t be fair to highlight your outstanding achievement because your success makes others feel uncomfortable? But she repeatedly requested, in a calm and serious manner, that I let it go as she already had. In the end I honored her wishes.

In so many ways Izzy has far surpassed us elder Cogs in embracing the Two Ice Floes. She is a real time success story in employing critical thinking. Izzy understands nothing is what it seems. Not the information in her school books, not the mantras droned into her peers via social media and popular culture, and not what most around her firmly believes is reality. Knowing all this, she is able to take it all in and still gracefully question everything.

And because she has developed a genuine demeanor in approaching life, do you know what this amazing kid has gone and done? Despite her previous brass ring being snatched from her grasp just when she reached it, Izzy earned a full ride to a top tier Biomedical Engineering program to fulfill her goal of making prosthetic limbs for people.

With a full understanding that our modern allopathic medicine targets the disease or condition to stop it, or carve it out, rather than addressing the underlying whole body causes, she is once again diving into the Matrix to experience the best of both worlds. Knowing she will be studying ‘proven’ science by authorities who largely have no patience for those who would question anything, let alone everything, she is willing to soak up and learn whatever she can from that system to better understand how to apply it in her own ways.

What she is doing is so big I am astounded. Knowing the rules change all the time, knowing the systems are crumbling and the world could be upside-down for part or all of her life, knowing the promises and rewards are often empty, Izzy has positioned herself to continue through life, debt free, and position herself precisely where she wants to be.

Very few people in Izzy’s life really understand her. There are some academics in our family who were disappointed she didn’t seek a prestigious Ivy League school to study at, given her level of achievement. Her answer seemed lost upon them, and Izzy was fine with that too. What she has achieved far exceeded artificial prestige in her own eyes.

Izzy found a unique medical engineering program where she can scrub in and observe procedures and traumas starting in her freshman year. She already knows the name of the professor who is running the lab where they are growing human livers from stem cells, and they are open to include eager new incoming plebs who, as Izzy might say, can totally geek on growing new human organs.

Cog has often said to both me and Izzy that in life, disappointment comes from having expectations of others. If Izzy had come all this way through the rigors of high school and felt she was robbed, I doubt she would be looking forward to her future with bright eyes. But in the end she didn’t accomplish all this because she expected others to honor her for doing so. Izzy set the bar for herself and she did all this because it is what she expected from only herself.

In quiet moments I tear up with happiness thinking about how this kid has cheerfully and gracefully embodied all these esoteric lessons I have struggled with for years. Cog points out that Izzy did not have to undergo rigorous de-programming like we did to unlearn all the falsehoods we teach each other in society. Because she can consider everything, but has been given explicit permission to believe nothing, she has remained open to limitless possibilities.

I share this rather personal story of Izzy’s because it is important. Izzy is nothing like her siblings, or any other teen I’ve ever known. Most likely she is nothing like the majority of teens you or I encounter on a day to day basis. She knows she is different too. She understands that in a world where kids and adults alike seem to ignore reality, and often tend to embrace their inner dark and twisty place, there is hope and light. There are shining examples, and some that are just being the change they want to see in the world every single day.

Little Cog, all growed up.
Little Cog, all growed up.
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4 thoughts on “Two Ice Floes – A Case Study”

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words. She certainly brightens the day and gives me hope for the future. :-)

  1. I have two sons, both now out in the world, and both with their heads on. One is a meteorologist and the other in the TV industry in LA. They amaze me constantly. Children who “get it” are a rarity — getting there is usually a long & arduous road (that is, if they ever arrive).

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