Old wine in new wineskins

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1f/Theseus_Prokroustes_Staatliche_Antikensammlungen_2325.jpgFeel it. Don’t classify it then reason from it. This is not always advice I take.

I want to know where the feeling comes from. Is it from current experience (good) or a reaction because of past experience (bad)? My thoughts and feelings really are my enemy, they constrain me. If I could even now “make a man of myself” life would be so much easier, I catch myself thinking. What would that even mean? Kelley tells me how his class of 14 year olds resonate with the idea of not fitting the “Man-box”, the constrained ways of being a Man in this culture. In the story of Theseus, Procrustes forced people onto his bed, and if they were too small he stretched them, if too big he cut bits off. That myth’s meaning is so clear to me, though what the Greeks thought of it I do not know. Robert Graves links it to the Isthmian Games.

Something is not working here. I feel upset and find myself wishing for something impossible which I would hate if I could get it, or I would be completely different as a person.

I have been reading Hilary Mantel, and history books on the Tudors. A Catholic friend said with no hint of irony that Edward murdered martyrs, and Mary executed heretics. I like to think that now I have a more nuanced view, that I can see different aspects and issues, though I still think Elizabeth’s settlement best. Her Church of England accepted a wide range of Catholic and Reformed views, and had no allegiance to a weak politician at the mercy of foreign kings and armies, though it might have been better with less state control. Possibly this view is affected by 35 years as an Anglican. And- I can be open to new understandings, and so gain understanding. Brilliant. And- I need to understand my current situation.

It seems that I can say sensible things, that this job was a good place for me to be, or that defeat was no judgment on me but showed my integrity- and I do not feel that way. The world is not that hostile, I say, there are always positive things to see, the negative has no value, the acceptance is so much more important than the rejection- and something inside me does not believe it. So I break down in tears rather than do a job application, and cannot go out after a failed job interview. I like to think that is not merely my inner critic, as I hope it does not have so much control over me. So I imagine my rational self at war with my emotional being.

I could see it differently: I have managed to convince my rational self that I may survive in the World, and this is a good start, now I have  to persuade my emotional being. Even, finish persuading her, I have made a start.

Lao Tzu allegedly agrees- the internet never gives sources.

5 thoughts on “Old wine in new wineskins

  1. Thanks, really thought-provoking. I often think of it as separating rational thought from not just emotions, but from the whirling, swirling and uncontrollable hormone roller coaster. Melancholy, enthusiasm, rage, creativity and contentment – all at the whim of the chemicals in my head. I love the different shades it gives to life but sometimes I need to remind myself that it’s my rational self, always lurking in the background, that I should listen to! Good luck, I think you’re there …

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    • And yet-

      The limbic system (heart and gut, we say figuratively, because we feel it there) has evolved for a purpose, and not listening to it made me want to die. I think the hormones, in bringing the emotions to the fore in my consciousness, have done me good. How to use them, how to cultivate my own flower, is my pressing problem, but suppressing was impossible.

      I need to get the emotional being and the inner rationalist talking to each other. The working theory and hope is that they both have my best interests at heart…

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      • It sounds like a complex arrangement but I see what you mean. I prefer to ignore my emotions when I feel they’re leading me to irrational behaviour …. when I can recognise it. But suppression is a different matter.

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