I read about someone who shot and killed his girlfriend and when asked by the police why he did it responded, “I don’t know why.” Sometimes our inner life can be like muddy water into which we cannot see and don’t wish to know what lies beneath the surface. And yet we have to come to know ourselves if we are to grow, to be happy, and to be of help to others. That growth requires self-examination. Take for instance the times when someone is razzing someone else by saying outrageous and hurtful things, only to say at the end, “Just kidding”. The fact is that to some degree we weren’t kidding and yet we are unwilling to own up to our desire to be cruel.
So how can we go about exploring our heart’s interior terrain? To greater or lesser degrees some solitude is required. Unfortunately we live in a culture which works to make solitude in our daily life unattainable! Endless music in stores, buildings with hundreds of people and a fast-paced life that doesn’t allow for just stopping. If we are honest with ourselves we will also admit that solitude frightens us, that we view it as an “absence”. The fact is that solitude is a presence, it is where we meet ourselves and can hear our hearts murmuring and become acquainted with its desires… both good and not so good!
We are sometimes betrayed and kidnapped by the things our heart wants and by the actions that are born out of that wanting like rage, jealousy, lashing-out, tantrums and “just kidding”. We are often stunned by what pours out of our inner life so it is no wonder we avoid looking too closely at it in solitude. But what is in the heart will leak out one way or another so perhaps our “just kidding” moments indicate something more important than is at first apparent… something that we need to investigate?