We have a 17 year-old cat by the name of Mitzi. In the past couple of years she has developed the annoying behavior of meowing very loudly. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so annoying if we knew what it is she is trying to communicate. We explore the probable causes: she is hungry; she wants to go outside; she’s in pain; she wants to play or be held; etc. Sometimes one of these issues seems to be the answer, at other times not. Too often she speaks a language we just don’t understand. We are all frequently frustrated, her most of all.
In many ways, Mitzi is like the psyche. The psyche speaks a language (dreams, signs, synchronicities, body and psychological symptoms, etc.) that can be hard to understand. The psyche wants our attention, but in our egocentricity we find it annoying, an intrusion upon our thoughts and plans. We want to set it outside where we can’t hear it; put it in another room. Too often out of guilt, rather than love, do we hold it and talk to it.
The psyche is all the problems we don’t understand and don’t know how to fix. It makes a mockery of our rational mind. We want to dissect it, analyze it, solve it, but it will not be tamed, cannot be tamed by the human mind. Indeed, even our rationality is at its mercy. Driven by motives we are only partially conscious of, we convince ourselves of the rationality of the most irrational things. Our rationality is often self-serving, an edifice established to maintain the status quo of the ego.
We want to control life. We want the answers that will solve our problems. But the psyche is a living and autonomous being, not a machine. No sooner do we address one problem than another pops up. And some problems, try as we might, we cannot fix. They surpass our understanding and consciousness. But they also take us deeper. They remind us that we are not in charge, that we are dealing with a mystery and are part of a mystery that is far greater than us. And this is a good thing. If it weren’t for our problems, it would be easy to forget that the psyche exists, or, perhaps worse, recognize its existence but think that we are its master.