Feedback loops and defining the future

We are creatures who live in the world. When the world changes, we humans adjust and adapt, and in so doing, we survive. Yet we also live in our inside world. When our thoughts change how we see the world, we adjust and adapt to that inner world too. This becomes complex when we are trying to work out what we want and what our purpose is.
Living creatures respond to stimuli. For humans, that stimulus can be external – or the world, or internal – of the mind. External stimulation can be things like temperature, a growling dog, falling from a tree and so on. These physical phenomena trigger a safety response within us that often has us acting before we are consciously aware that we have acted. We then find ourselves scrambling to catch up to our actions with sometimes interesting and outlandish explanations.
Looking at a beautiful sun setting over the ocean, the colours a riot of reds, peaches, purples and oranges can trigger a feeling of joy, contentment and a desire to grab a camera or paint brush and render that image for all time. The physical environment that has created this imagery and responding feeling within us is not truly external. The physical environment surely is, but the feeling we have is an internal recognition of the tranquillity of the scene. We are not reflexively acting, pausing afterwards to justify our actions. We are emotionally acting to what we feel now. This scene is a combination of the external stimuli and the internal emotional reflection.
When the stimulus is only internal it is far harder for an external person to perceive and understand why we have changed. It can also be some subtlety that we do not understand ourselves. This can often leave us lost as to why we have acted, sometimes to create interesting and outlandish explanations for our actions. Teenagers often give the answer of “dunno”, and get in trouble for their honest answer.
When we look at ourselves, we see a myriad reflection of the world around us and the world we have travelled through. While we may be born into this world tabula rasa (a clean slate), we don’t remain so for long. We are moulded and changed by the life we have lived. Yet I believe we are more than the experiences we have had. I believe we can guide our behaviours more to the left, or more to the right as we see fit. Our past is an explanation for our present, not an excuse for our future. We decide, right here, and right now: What are we going to do next?
To know what to do next often necessitates having an inkling of where we want to be in the future. I can project from my past a trend that gives me a clue about where I am going to end up, if I make no conscious decisions about my life. If I keep doing what I have always done, then my future is an ongoing repeat of what I have done. That can end in some fairly grisly results, or may end in thoughtless bliss. If I don’t want that future, then I must act now to change that outcome. But change in what way?
It helps to know what I am now. Yet what I am now is a handful of reactions to life now. As a result, when I try to figure out who I am, I mostly see what I am experiencing now rather than that trend to the left or right that I mentioned earlier. I believe that the trend is more me than the specific path I am on. Seeing that trend, however, is hard.
I have been trying to work out what my role in the world is. I have settled recently on the idea that I am me first (whatever that is), a father second, a partner third (although the ladies may disagree about that order), a friend fourth and a worker fifth. Here I am describing roles, not me. These roles are responses to responsibility that has come into my life. I am responsible for and to my child, my partner, my friends and work.
Looking beyond this, I don’t have to be responsible to any of these. I could walk away. Lord knows, sometimes I want to, and I have known many people who have.
My trend is to accept responsibility, to accept that these roles are important and have purpose. My trend is to care about others, the world and what the future may look like. My trend is to be a shoulder to lean on when you are feeling less than you could be and to support you back to being who you want to be.
My next step is to try to work out how I use this me, taken by my trends, as an indicator of what I want my future to look like.
My future could be public or it could be private, or some other location on that spectrum. Clearly, at this stage, I am quietly public. I have blogs that I write on and quietly promote. I draw no income from these (although I would love to). I have pondered recently whether my desire to change the world arises from ill experiences that I have lived through. Am I reacting to the world and then justifying my actions later as “I want to do good”? Am I just blindly responding to stimuli, or am I reasoning a path for my future?