So, today I made a right turn into the Twilight Zone, and the bottom fell out of my car and I found myself free falling with a musical score, starting with the line, “His Boy Elroy…” Not sure why it started there. If I were to choose the phonological loop to be stuck in, I would imagine it would be “Daughter Judy,” or at least, “Jane, his wife!” (Cue notes reminiscent of Heart and Souls then explode into a jazz…)
No, I don’t do drugs. I am not bipolar. I have never had a manic episode. I have been, of late, engaged in a some serious ‘heavy lifting’ utilizing a tool set called “the invisible counselor technique,” championed by Napoleon Hill, and some unconscious work, called ‘active imagination’ utilized by Carl Jung, that he used with clients and resulted in his own personal evolution detailed in “the Red Book.” I may have referenced this in a previous post. (See watching the wheels.) Does one need that history to understand where this is going? Probably not. I don’t even know where it’s going, and I suspect it’s the path up the volcano traversed by Joe (Tom Hanks) in Joe Versus the volcano, which suddenly explains my new mantra, “Lightening never takes a straight path.”
So, here I am, in the car, feeling joyful. Not happy. Joyful. I am also perturbed. What is this? Is this permissible? Does it have a reason? Does it need a reason? Can it be duplicated at will? Maybe it’s not a feeling but a place. Can I come back here? Now, we all have self-talk. Much of the time we are so engaged in self-talk that we aren’t even aware we are scaffolding in order to reinforced the mood we’re in, or springboard us into an ‘expected mood.’ I say expected as opposed to desired, because we don’t always desire to be in a bad mood, but we can build lists to support why we ‘should’ be in such a mood. You would think Albert Ellis would enter at this point and discuss his theories on “shoulds’ and ‘expectations.’ But I haven’t invited him to play. I hear he was a pain to deal with in real life, so he is not one of the seven I chose. I went with seven because that seemed more manageable. When you invite craziness into your head, it’s probably advisable to start small. I probably should have started with three, but my expectations for success in this endeavor was not high, so I inflated.
Carl Jung is a character. No, really. He’s pretty funny. Sometimes he will push his spectacles up and allow the brightness of his eyes to shine as he concentrates on you. Sometimes he has that sly, subtle smile. This is the older Jung. Grandfatherly. He sometimes has a pipe. And a dinner jacket with the patches on the elbows. Thankfully, he speaks to me in English, but it comes with a German accent, so I suspect he is actually speaking German and I am just hearing English, in the same way the BBS show “A’lo, A’lo” characters were speaking their ‘native’ language but we heard it in English with the appropriate accent, but the characters only heard the native language, and so if they couldn’t speak said language, it required one of the characters to translate, which was a great set up for more comedy. Jung can be seriously thoughtful; hands folded together, fingers’ steepled,’ leaning forwards, you know when he is attending. But in the car, he is usually focused on the scenery, and if he is curious about a modern artifact of the Dallas Fort Worth commute, he will sometimes point at it with the pipe and inquire.
“You should try some gum,” he said.
“Sorry, what?” I asked.
He explained: when you get a song stuck in your head and you want to make it go away, you should chew gum. I was skeptical. He explained further, there is always, even if not discernable, a sub vocalization aspect to ‘phonological loops’ and chewing gum interrupts the pathways. It sounds plausible, I may give it a try in the future, but at the time, I was experiencing traffic on I30, near six flags. Traffic can be a list item for negative stress, but again, I was joyful, attending to traffic, and aware that there were some people not joyful, but most people were just there, driving.
“I feel good,” I said.
“I know,” Carl said.
“How do you know?” I asked.
He looked at me, seriously, and took the pipe out of his mouth. “Seriously?”
“I’m confused,” I said.
“Me, too,” Carl said.
“Your ‘seriously’ sounded sarcastic and I was asking for clarity on how you knew I feel good,” I said.
“Oh, dear God, John,” Carl said, and sighed. “Besides being an artificial construct of your imagination to better explore the depths of your psyche, which consequently provides me a direct, all-pass access to your states of being and all levels of awareness, I am also a world renown psychiatrist and therapist, and can detect subtle clues of inner being as they are telegraphed though physical attributes. And then there is this whole collective unconscious thing, which means I have access to your mood through the ‘medium,’ but if that wasn’t enough, you keeping singing the theme from the Jetsons. Which, I would like to point out, is fairly intrusive, yet remarkably catchy.”
“Succinct,” I said. “I apologize for my confusion.”
“No apology necessary,” Carl said. “Still, I sense that you’re perturbed.”
“About being joyful for no reason, not by your level of insight,” I offered.
Carl nodded. “I would like to submit an argument for you to contemplate,” he said, using the word ‘argument’ appropriately.
“Proceed,” I said. Yes, this is how these conversations go. Typically.
“It requires the acceptance of a premise,” Carl began. “Whether you believe it or not, for the sake of the argument, I require the belief that all human being are hypnotizable.”
“I already believe that,” I said.
There was subtle smile that suggested disbelief without wanting to engage in an ‘argument,’ using the modern connotation of the word. He proceeded: “You’re at a comedy club. Contextually, just being at the comedy club is tantamount permission to feeling amused, and perhaps allowance for the opportunities of laughter. I use allowance because there are some individuals who attend in order to heckle, as opposed to seeking entertainment.” He mused for a moment. “Though, I can allow for a certain percentage of heckling as being part of the process, I don’t wish to pursue that atypical tangent. Back on point, we will entertain, further, that the next performer is a stage hypnotist. You’ve been chosen to go up on stage. You may have been chosen because you volunteered, which, again, increases you’re likelihood to participate in amusement. But, even if you were coerced to visit the comedy club by friends determined to cheer you up, and you were equally enticed further by said friends to go on stage and you committed out of social pressure or even the urgency to prove you can’t be hypnotized, just the act of going up on stage is setting you up for certain outcomes.”
“I am with you so far,” I said, but was actually thinking, just skip to the point.
“Very well,” Carl said. “Using nothing more than language and the power of suggestion, the hypnotist can open up pathways of joys. If I were more crass, I could add that through the power of suggestion, you could be ‘made’ to have a physiological response that you normally associate as occurring only in the presence of physical stimulation, but only because you consistently fail to recognize your mind as the most essential feature of your being, not your brain, and not your body, to which you’ve assigned all meaning. In a hypnotic state, I could tell you there is nothing but sunshine and puppies all around you, and you would believe it and experience it, on multiple and profound levels.”
“I assume you’re going somewhere with this,” I said.
“Your entire evolution has been entirely contrived through hypnosis,” Carl said.
“Expound, please,” I pushed.
“Seriously? I was hoping you would arrive without me spelling out the conclusion,” Carl said. “In your making of lists, your metrics, you have had socially expected emotional outcomes, and in weighing those, you were telling yourself what to experience. Society has also been influencing you, through commercials and advertisements, and more directly, you were influenced by family and friends sharing their opinions and expectations. You have curbed greatly, over the last ten years, the input by cutting out television and limiting the radio to music only, but even all of that, programming! There is no way to be 100 percent isolated in this culture, but by turning off society’s definition of ‘success’ and seeking a more personal way of measuring your life outcomes, you have discovered your own pathway to health. I dare say, ten years ago, definitely twenty years ago, not only would you have not entertained a conversation with an ‘invisible friend,’ but if it occurred naturally, you would have had yourself committed. That fear alone has no doubt blocked you from some truly extraordinarily capabilities. The fact that you are now risking ridicule by openly discussing your experiences derived from these exercises suggests greater sense of security in yourself than you have had in the past.”
I was quiet.
“I think it crucial to point out, though, no matter where you were in your life, you were always engaged in self-talk. Hypnosis. Even when actually engaging others, you were still more engaged in self-talk than true communication. On improving your ability to hear yourself, you’ve acquired the ability to listen better to others. You may be puzzled by this, but ask yourself, who is the one listening? Who were you talking to? Who were you trying to impress? Prior, your mind was too busy to hear others. You’re doing it again. Don’t make me quote Yoda. Pay attention to me, oh! and watch the road. Thank you. You rehearsed arguments, even before others finished speaking their piece. You lamented. You cried. You laughed. You marveled. You were appropriately sad and angry and happy at times, and inappropriately angry and sad and happy at others. Engaging others in the midst of your own voice is the equivalent of being in a nightclub with the music at full volume while ogling the dancers and trying to hold a conversation. That, too, is being human, but I would suggest that that singular voice that persisted through your life was more ‘insane’ than your present voice that allows for the possibility that there are other voices, real, imagined, visible, and hidden in you. In order to hear them, you ask, then silently await a response. All voices should have air time, because whether you know it or not they are influencing you. And, as you know, I am an advocate for making the hidden manifest, exploring the shadows to better understand the light filtering through the canopy of leaves.
“One of the stipulations in extending me an invitation to participate in this ‘experiment’ with you was the caveat that in doing so it be beneficial to your overall wellbeing. It was a reasonable stipulation. Kind of like a hypnotic suggestion. You gave yourself permission to move towards health. More importantly, you have given yourself permission to understand why and have a context for it, even if there is no context for it, because the scaffolding alone establishes context.”
Still, I was silent. Actually listening.
“That, sir, is why you feel joy. You have given yourself permission. You have trusted that there is an inherent, inner wisdom and guiding voice that you, and everyone, has access to, and by engaging it, unveiled personal truth,” Carl said.
“I wish I had known you when I was younger,” I said.
“Lamenting again? Some old tapes persist longer than others,” Carl said. “I refer you to the Wizard of Oz. The reason Glenda had Dorothy do the journey is because Dorothy wouldn’t have believed the answer. You always had the answer, John, you just needed life experience to make the magic happen.”
Filtering through my love hate relationship with the Wizard of Oz, I found myself slipping from joy, ready to engage in a rant that requires its own post but not here; besides, Carl blocked me from my rant by singing:
“Meet George Jetson.”
Insert full orchestra and piano movement of eccentric jazz and the light of pure joy.