Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Adhesions To The Cube

I play the lottery every once in a while. Not because I think I'll win it big but because it gives me an opportunity to think about what I'd do if I did. That dreaming is actually more real than the possibility of winning. The first part is always easy: get rid of any debt, help the kids, take a family vacation, take a two or three month sabbatical, and maybe buy a toy or two.

Maybe I suffer from imagination deficit disorder (grin, grin) but after that daydream I still want to come back to my home and my routine and my practice, and continue doing psychotherapy. It's what I do. It's what I'm good at, at least on my good days. Good family, good wife, good place to live, and great profession. I'm lucky that way and I never lose sight of it. But, if everything is so many wonderful shades of good and great in Timmyville, then why this restlessness that I feel and keep coming back to?

Is it simply fear? Or, is it a fear of stepping outside the box? Is it a survival strategy to stay in the box since that is where it is safer? In the box (you can variously define it according to your circumstances) you know the boundaries, you have structure and schedule, and you have a means to support yourself and your loved ones. Perhaps it's a more primitive issue of not moving beyond the boundary of the campfire during the night. Out there is where the wild things are. Out there is where people disappear, where they get eaten.

Here's a different way of looking at it. What happens if, either suddenly or gradually, you become aware that the very way of the life you have been living is so separated from the rest of the world, the universe, that it becomes a matter of sheer survival to explore in order to survive? Perhaps this very restlessness is a dim recognition of how our species survived in the first place. There has been a body of thinking these days which says that to survive we had to leave the savannah.

Nature shifted and it showed up in the environment. What had provided a comfortable arrangement between species and neighborhood simply changed. To stay in that neighborhood and to not read the signs that something big was happening was to hold onto the old ways. It was like waking up and recognizing you are in a situation of diminishing ruturns and saying to yourself that the best you can do that day is buy a ticket to the lottery in the hope that you win big so everything can continue to be in the same situation we have known for so long.

At some point survival becomes a matter of moving out into "the other" to explore and accept challenge and to keep moving precisely because there is a sense that to stay in any one place for too long is to sense death, the death of too much security and too much comfort. OR, as some would say, the world as we have come to know it has become too toxic to spirit and expression.

1 comment:

Paul said...


These are thought provoking thoughts.

I've read some research that seems to indicate humans need a degree of danger and risk.

Children learning to walk risk falling. Athletes find a game rewarding only if their opponent has the skill to make the outcome uncertain.

Maybe we never outgrow that youthful need to risk taking a first step, to leave family and seek new relationships, to be innovative knowing we may fail.

I sometimes wonder if our ancestors from centuries past felt the same restlessness.