Three little pigs face uncertainty

A beautiful, sunny day that somehow feels so heavy in our hearts. In these moments of uncertainty… no, wait.

When did we have certainty? When were we able to foretell the future in such a reliable way that it would make us say the future is now uncertain? The future is always uncertain. Well, I guess this depends on one’s view about chance and randomness. Let’s say the future is always unknown, at least to us. Hidden behind some veil, we sort of get a glimpse of it as it comes closer, but we cannot clearly see it until it is here (and not even then…).

Jung said that we introverts tend to abstract concepts, ideas from the object (as opposed to the subject, us) because we cannot bear the vertigo of constant change in the outer world. We cannot tolerate uncertainty and we need something more or less permanent to cling ourselves to.

“The great inner uneasiness inspired in man by the phenomena of the external world” is nothing other than the introvert’s fear of all stimuli and change, occasioned by his deeper sensitivity and powers of realization. His abstractions serve the avowed purpose of confining the irregular and changeable within fixed limits.

Carl G. Jung, Personality Types

Yes, we live uncertain times. Always, not just now. We have a false sense of security that somehow convinces us that we are safe, that at least some things are permanent. But the only permanent reality, ironically, is change itself. Now this false sense of security no longer veils our eyes and we see that the outer world changes at a dizzying speed. That nothing is permanent. That we are not permanent.

This false sense of security might be false, but it is useful. It allows us to thrive as individuals and to live in a society. Only children can adapt to constant change, to accept that something unexpected is going to happen every day, at any moment. They do this naturally, as they learn. I think the reason they accept change so naturally is precisely because they know nothing and, therefore, nothing is particularly strange, everything is equally possible. By “knowing” we confine reality and when we have to face a new reality that does not conform with our view of the world, we stall. Since we adults cannot live in constant change, we build ourselves a house of “solid realities” we believe in. Like the three little pigs in the tale, hiding from the wolf. We lock ourselves in that house and we thrive. It is all an illusion, a practical illusion that serves a specific purpose, to give us certainty and security. If it weren’t for this illusion, we would not have grown into the human beings we are, neither individually nor collectively. Our ability to perceive at least some realities as permanent, even if they aren’t, is the basis of our lives. We fear most whatever it is that threatens to remove our veil and shatter our sweet, cosy “permanent” realities. Our world.

Many years ago I read Erich Fromm’s Fear of Freedom (also known as Escape from Freedom). Fromm, one of the most insightful minds of the XX century, argued that we humans don’t actually want to be free. That freedom scares us. Making decisions scares us and, therefore, we come up with lots of rules and excuses to avoid being free and having to decide. This false sense of security we live in also helps ourselves not to be free. Some chains, as illusory as they might be, are preferable to the acceptance of the fact that we live in constant change, that nothing is permanent. This reminds me also of Jesus saying that only a child could enter Heaven. I used to think that this referred to innocence and well behaviour, but now I think it refers to lack of knowledge and acceptance of constant change. Who knows, maybe unlearning and acceptance of constant and vertiginous change is the recipe for happiness or, at least, the recipe to get rid of fear.

Change begets change. Nothing propagates so fast. If a man habituated to a narrow circle of cares and pleasures, out of which he seldom travels, step beyond it, though for never so brief a space, his departure from the monotonous scene on which he has been an actor of importance, would seem to be the signal for instant confusion. As if, in the gap he had left, the wedge of change were driven to the head, rending what was a solid mass to fragments, things cemented and held together by the usages of years, burst asunder in as many weeks. The mine which Time has slowly dug beneath familiar objects is sprung in an instant; and what was rock before, becomes but sand and dust.

Charles Dickens, Life And Adventures Of Martin Chuzzlewit

Since we cannot prevent change and make things permanent, I suggest we just enjoy this beautiful day… while dutifully avoiding contact with other human beings, something we introverts have a natural talent at 🙂

Be well.