by Tirzah Maria Lewis, ACC
We have been lulled into a lie my friends. This deception has seeped across our nation and our world. Some people have escaped its trap but most of us have not. We slavishly follow the lie as the arbiter of truth. We orchestrate our lives by it and pass it along to our children. We watch them struggle with what we have taught them — and still cannot let it go though it pains us daily to live out this screaming half-truth.
We live our lives believing and preaching in our actions this lie: That we are rational, empirical beings and our reason will save us. We have been taught to trust above all else; our reason, the brain that sits atop our shoulders firing endless signals all day and night. And beyond that not to trust our own brain but to put our trust in the mind of others lest ours be unlearned and our ignorance render our computations erroneous. And so instead of living, we calculate ourselves through existence. Year after year of endless figuring. It seeps into every aspect of being. Who do I marry? Make a list. Where should we eat? Read obsequious reviews. How should I show affection? Read an entire shelf of “experts” on the subject. As Eliot wrote for his weariest of protagonists J. Alfred Prufrock, “I grow old… I grow old… I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare eat a peach?” He wrote this in 1911 people! And yesterday in 2021 the Associated Press had a story on the wire about the war between Millennials and Gen Z about parting one’s hair on the side versus the middle! We are not creatures of the new but creatures of reborn habit and this justifying of one’s self through each and every day is a very ancient habit indeed. We are measuring out our lives with coffee spoons. If this is our collectively agreed-upon way, why must I ring the warning bell now? Is it not just the way things are? Why be so alarmist? Because it is killing us. Or more rightly put it is killing that within us which makes living worth it. Reason is destroying our dreams on the altar of safety and for the sake of certainty. It is doing so by yelling at anyone who dares to listen, “I am the only thing you can trust! I am the only way to be sure you are doing life right!” To that I yell out a full-throated, “Poppycock!” (Because I have young children at home. But other terms associated with the waste product of livestock also come to mind.) There are other ways of living, and guess what, they are still with us! All this time for centuries, decades, years, months and moments they have never left us. They are the subtle, intuitive Knowings that live inside our body. Knowings are not as loud as reason. It’s not how they show up. Reason has drowned them out and we forgot how to listen and respond to them. They are so unassuming that only the most insistent have been able to get through. Think this is all metaphysical nonsense? Think about a sure-footed never worried person you admire — that self-assured individual sailing through life unfettered by the noise you walk around with in your head on a daily basis. Sense that admiration in the back of your mind. Feel the subtle streak of jealousy that curdles what’s left of last night’s dinner deep in your gut. Those are Knowings. We all have them; we walk around with them inside but Knowings are not pushy like reason. They do not demand you obey them, they request you acknowledge them. They are guides, not masters. So why don’t we listen to them if they are so much gentler than reason? Because they do require the one thing that we are desperately afraid to give. Agency. Knowings do not demand and so they make a terrible fall-guy for our choices. Reasons can be given for why we did x over y. I drove to work instead because, “reason”. I eat Keto/Vegan/Paleo because, “reason”. I married Jerome because “reason.” Knowings do not operate this way. Knowings do not demand we obey, they demand that we stand for and stand inside of them. Why did you start a business in the middle of an economic downturn? Because I believe I can (stand inside). How are you going to homeschool and work full-time? I will because I must (stand for). Who will buy this? The right person is out there, they will see the value of my idea (stand inside and stand for). And that my friend is some scary manure. But there it is… the truth about why we choose reason over knowing nearly every time. We are scared to stand inside of and stand up for our desires and our dreams. We wait, hoping that one day the justification will come even though our dreams are with us in this very moment, in this very room, daring us to listen.