One of the great joys for me of studying disciplines such as Tarot and Astrology has been the more psychological aspects that can be explored within their overall embraces. Either field makes for some phenomenal illumination about just who each one of us is, and what makes us tick. I’ve become ever more convinced that we each come into this world with a certain intrinsic set of psychological imperatives (this is “nature” at work), and that as we persist and travel through life, we’re given constant opportunities to refine how we feed and express those imperatives (…and this is where “nurture” comes in).
So, in my view, we totally have free will — we can choose to strive against our inherent natures all the time if we so desire — but because we do have these inherent natures, some of our choices will lead to greater ease and success than others, that’s all. But the point I’m driving at here is not that we all have our basic selves, which more or less equate to a set of internal parameters cast in human form…it’s that I think we tend to lose sight of this very basic fact, and that this kind of lapse is responsible for a huge percentage of the strife and unhappiness that afflict our relationships with ourselves and with others.
Here’s an example of what I mean… Picture, if you will, a married couple. We don’t even need to concern ourselves with their ages, races, genders, religious affiliations, or the rest of their family composition — we’ll just focus on them.
Let’s call them Spouse Q and Spouse Z. They have this recurring battle: Spouse Q is very happy-go-lucky, and wants to travel often. Spouse Z, on the other hand, is quite willing to go along, but in terms of personal style of approach, Z will never feel natural just throwing some clothing into a suitcase on the spur of the moment and heading for the airport, as Q prefers to do. Z is not happy-go-lucky. Z is a very detail-oriented planner, who feels secure only when multiple possible eventualities have been mapped out, an array of contingencies has been prepared for, items have been inventoried and neatly packed, bullet points on the itinerary have been organized and prioritized with furious efficiency…in short, Z wants to approach any vacation like it’s a math problem to be solved, and this makes carefree Q crazy.
And the argument keeps playing out, every time they try to travel, with Q berating Z for being so unable to “let go” and to “just enjoy” and to “not get hung up on the details.” Q even calls Z things like a “stick in the mud” and a “wet blanket” and a “killjoy” (Q has a fondness for old time-y slang, as it turns out!). Z, in return, charges that Q continually fails to appreciate how a bit of careful planning can enable them to neatly sidestep the many problems that invariably crop up and bite the duo on their collective backside each and every time they head off to exotic locales, even after countless repetitions of such eminently avoidable problems.
Here’s how their vacations end up:
My point here is that Q and Z are each acting as if the other could easily jettison their customary approach, and simply be some other way. And I would put forth the theory that they can’t. They can try, sure…but it won’t come easily, and the anxiety involved in going so very much against one’s own natural inclinations might cause internal grief of such great magnitude that it would capsize any chances for enjoyment they might potentially have on the adventure anyway…and all this before it even gets underway. In short, if one of them tries to act against their own internal, hardwired set of operating impulses, the results might be even worse than if they each just acted as per usual.
Q and Z are not guilty of being inflexible or selfish — not as I see it. If they’re “guilty” of anything, it’s just of acting in accordance with the way their psyches are wired. I really do think that’s a very apt metaphor for the way each of us functions, psychologically: we’re “wired.” We have wiring.
So in order to achieve harmony — and to enjoy their vacations together — the best thing Q and Z can do (in my own humble opinion) is to recognize and celebrate their unique brands of wiring, and then work together to ensure that each of them gets their needs met.
Q can work to understand that all of Z’s hardcore planning and detail-shooting is a psychological need rather than some conscious choice to be a buzzkill, and Q can then try to accommodate as much of that micromanaging of the trip as will be possible without sacrificing any significant amount of Q’s own enjoyment. And on the other side of things, Z can strive to grasp the fact that Q isn’t seeking to hamper their jaunts with problems and misfires and fiascos, and Q isn’t being lazy about planning — Q simply has a need to be spontaneous, and to improvise and react. This is a huge part of the enjoyment for Q! And so Z can maybe attempt to actually build in room for some of this variability within those meticulous plans, so that Q can feel like things are open enough to be fun and gratifying.
All of this may involve some compromise, and it may take some trial and error spread across multiple vacations before all the bugs are worked out (if they ever can be completely worked out), but the point is that they should be able to at least significantly improve their satisfaction with their vacation times together by simply realigning their viewpoints toward each other. Each just needs to allow for the fact that the other has unique wiring, and that the manifestations of this wiring are much more like needs than they are like smaller, more controllable wants.
And a notion that may be even more critical to the quest to attain happiness: any given one of us will be best off when also applying that same forgiving acceptance of internal wiring…to ourselves.
Beating ourselves up over not being spontaneous like Q, or not being a planner like Z — that all kind of misses a vital point. We are all, each of us, intensely unique. We simply may not have it in us to be happily spontaneous, or to be joyfully meticulous, or to transmit forth whatever other quality it is that we think we must embody. We need to learn our own unique wiring better, we need to accept it, and then we need to work with it. This way lies that bliss that Joseph Campbell so wisely advised us to follow.
This all may seem rather obvious, but I feel that very, very many of us tend to overlook these simple truths all the time.
So that’s my counsel for the day, even though you didn’t ask for it: Embrace your wiring!