The challenging reality of others

I feel comfortable participating in our little introvert and ‘mystic’ community, it provides me with a strange, possibly illogical, feeling of belonging. Maybe this is the reason why I was profoundly upset after reading tweets from people who negate the mere existence of the coronavirus or openly say they have no interest in getting a vaccine, since they are healthy and it is of no benefit to them. My heart sunk several floors down to the garage, truly dismayed.

I am usually quite flat with emotions (unfortunately), so this unrest made me stop and think. Why was I so upset? After all, don’t I write about the difficulty, or even the impossibility, of assimilating reality? How many times have I argued about how we paint our world, our reality, with our own projections? Why would I be upset if their reality does not fit with my own definition of real? What is ‘real’, anyway?

Maybe others feel the same way about my own reality, upset that I refuse to see the obvious facts as clearly as they do. Probably they find their own version of reality more befitting than my view. But isn’t that what I do too?

Maybe it is about the knowledge we have acquired. It is easy for me to believe what I read about the virus. I have been trained to understand it and most of it is reasonable and not in conflict with my previous view of the world. In other words, I can considerate real according to my own standards. However, what happens with fields I have no deep knowledge of? Don’t I have an opinion about law, for instance? Don’t I know, it seems, as much as lawyers do? Football managers… don’t get me started. We all know more. Psychology… of course I know more, I ‘know it inside’, how could I possibly be wrong?

It’s interesting that I would readily admit the limits of my knowledge in the field in which I have worked for decades, while it would be more difficult for me to admit that I am wrong about something I really don’t have much knowledge about, just opinions. It seems it takes more effort to uproot my uninformed opinions (beliefs?) than to admit the shaky limits of my own knowledge. Maybe it’s time to calm down, retreat home, and look dispassionately at what I consider my reality. Just in case there is a tiny chance that I am wrong…

There is a lesson everywhere. Why am I so upset? What does this say about me? What am I actually upset about? Am I projecting my own shadow here?

Anything strange and new arouses fear and mistrust, as though concealing unknown perils; heirlooms and suchlike are attached to his soul as by invisible threads; any change is upsetting, if not positively dangerous, as it seems to denote a magical animation of the object. His ideal is a lonely island where nothing moves except what he permits to move.

Carl Jung, Psychological Types

We react to ‘different’. We could almost say we hate ‘different’. ‘Different’ is a threat, a challenge. It questions us. It starts touching our pillars, our foundations. Just with the tip of its finger, nonchalantly, carelessly, as if nothing could happen. Oh, but we know. Deep inside we know how that innocent touch could start a wave that would bring our foundations down. Would I rather stay wrong than change? Is that why I reject a view, a reality that is different from my own?

It is fear of losing control. A part of me wants reality to be stable, universal, unchangeable. That part of me still reacts viscerally against any challenge to my ‘reality’. It’s a defence mechanism of my ego consciousness. It does not wish to be reminded that we are floating on change and that we don’t really know anything that is permanent. That part of me clings desperately to a rock and it can just not let go. I can almost feel the pain in its nails, the tension in its face, the anger, while it fights desperately against the current. As if that rock were everything my ego knew and letting go were so dangerous. The Unknown. I can taste its fear, the fear that with change my ego will be altered somehow, it will be harmed, it will cease to exist. It will ‘die’.

I thought we might end this evening with a discussion of the soul. All of the greatest religions speak of the soul’s endurance before the end of life. So what then does it mean to die?

Eissenheim, The Illusionist

This has been a humbling experience. I still believe that denying the existence of the virus or the convenience of vaccines is mistaken, but I’m glad I could see beyond my own anger. Let’s be a good sport, be grateful and move on.