I came across a cartoon in the New Yorker which shows a guy in his armchair, newspaper on his lap. He is glancing down at the floor to the right where the viewer sees an envelope half-sticking out from under a closed door. The caption reads: “Jim receives a note under the door and is intrigued, especially because it’s the closet door.” Are we intrigued by the notes that our heart keeps sliding out to our side of the door as it tries to give us insights into ourselves? Do we open the notes, or do we refuse to deal with them? Do we have such an idealized view of ourselves that we will not countenance any information which does not confirm that view?
It is amazing the degree of self-delusion that we are capable of; we say that things aren’t so bad even while the house of our life burns down around us. “X” is no dummy, and yet he cannot catch onto the fact that the wreckage of his life is not due to circumstances, but is caused by himself and his choices. He sends inappropriate emails to co-workers and gets fired, and his assessment is that the bosses were threatened by his abilities. He meets someone online and repeatedly complies with her requests that he help her with money; when his savings are depleted she no longer responds to his emails and his explanation is that he must have the wrong email address. Social Security overpays his benefits for 6 months; when they discover their mistake they insist he pay back the overage. He refuses. In the end Social Security impounds his monthly check until the amount is paid back, leaving him without income for months, which he thinks unreasonable saying “They made the mistake, not me.”
The common denominator to our life is us; why do we fear catching onto ourselves? Do we fear the changes that getting insights might mean for us? Do we fear not knowing where those changes might lead us, or who we might become? If we stopped being as we are right now, then who would we be? Would we still be us?!
The comic-strip character Pogo was right when he said, “We have met the enemy… and he is us!” If we want control over where our life is heading then we have to… HAVE TO… be willing to stare at ourselves in the mirror without any makeup. When our heart slips us a note under the door… are we intrigued, or terrified? Do we seek to find out what our heart is trying to tell us, or is it always “the other guy”?