Emotions: The Traitor
I resent this Biblical passage: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 ASV) This is a somewhat mild translation. Others use much more poisonous imagery. But, imagine growing up with this being a central idea of your religious philosophy. For all purposes, in a devout family, it also become your practical philosophy. It’s a message that says never trust your heart, never trust your passions. They are evil. They are against god.
It took a not insignificant number of years to look that one in the eye and start trusting my passions. Now that I am taking an active role in seeking my truest self, however, I suddenly find myself coming back to this passage and thinking: “I think I’ve got this guys meaning pegged the wrong way.” In fairness, the book is a few millennia old so to assume even the most adept scholar has the right of it is a long shot, but today as I write this reflection I am compelled to agree at least as far as this: my emotions are a collective traitor. I have within me a Judas, a Benedict Arnold, a spicy Mexican burrito that promises glory and then makes you pay the next morning. Damned burritos.
To illustrate, I’ll discuss one of my passions in life: writing. I may be in the middle of a busy day when inspiration strikes out of the blue sky. Ideas will start to flow through my mind and they seem so clear, so coherent, so vivid and I am filled with feelings of passion and inspiration. Finally I will find time to sit down and write. I’ll open up my computer, get the word processor running, put my hands to the keyboard… and emotional and intellectual antarctica. Barren, cold, stale, uninspired. My ideas are gone. I try to force myself to continue… but an episode of Star trek suddenly seems better. Then Star Trek leads to Facebook, Facebook leads to depression, and depression leads to a plate full of bacon, eggs, potatoes, and a croissant slathered in butter with a cup of coffee with a lovely bit of cream.
Traitor. TRAITOR. Within me is this well of offering, this tempest of ideas, love, creativity, messiness, and caffeine addiction! But deep inside, underneath the stream of conscious thought, is a self trained sabotage that has sneakily rooted itself in my day to day. Status Quo is at least easy to maintain. It doesn’t require one to face fears. Traitor.
Sit with it. Sit with the impulse. I’ve been trained to self diagnose. Sometimes that comes in handy, but not with the saboteur. Looking for root causes and underlying reasons for my avoidance, perhaps some freudian trigger involving a phallus as though I were subliminally under a spell of daddy issues, will not take care of this one. When the cold comes, when the Antarctic blank strikes your soul and you suddenly find an impulse to retreat into another Grey’s Anatomy rerun, don’t obey the impulse. Don’t try to create either. Just sit with it. Feel the impulse. Jesus, it’s not comfortable but sit with it. Feel it. Be present with it. When you do, it may just represent the first time that you are truly honest with yourself about your fears. Admitting the fear is important, but if you don’t sit with it then as far as the saboteur is concerned that admission is no more important than lip service paid to issues of poverty or starvation. “Oh yes, the starving children. *frown frown* The world really should do something about that.” It makes no change! Sit with it. Know it. Intimately.
The song attached below is what triggered this stream of thinking and feeling. Passion and love are strong and yet something about your circumstances tries to stand in the way of action. Enjoy.