I’m reading No Country For Old Men. It’s so beautifully written. Nothing is over-explained, and the characterizations are amazing. I adore the main character, Sheriff Bell. The title, I guess, is about how the criminal element was bad enough when he was young, but it still was comprehensible, it wasn’t evil. Now, when he’s an older man, the crimes committed against other humans are beyond evil. Miraculously, he doesn’t lose his warmth and sensitivity to that in life which is good.
I guess many people have a No Country part of their life, some element in which the world looks or is alien and inhospitable. The challenge is to find a way not to let it overwhelm you.
I’ve often gotten irritated with people who say just look at the bright side, don’t worry be happy. “Positive thinking will change your life.” It strikes me as untruthful at some level, unreal; feels more like denial than a real coming to terms with what’s troubling them. It always comes accompanied with a kind of smugness too, a saintliness that just doesn’t ring true.
And there’s also the very real possibility that they plain don’t want to hear what’s going on with you. Not really. And probably that’s because they’re terrified of opening up their own Pandora’s Box, and they’re afraid you’ll lead them right to it. Do not stop, go straight to jail.
But on the other hand, it doesn’t work burying yourself in what’s troubling you either. Then you just become a whingey whiny gloom and doom person who everybody avoids and with good reason. And you hate yourself, along with the whole human race. Many people seem to think those are the only two options.
I woke up this morning thinking, where’s the balance? I guess it’s different for everyone, but for me it lies in listening to myself and taking seriously that part of me which is troubled. It’s no use trying to talk myself out of what’s scaring me, or joking about it – because it doesn’t work. You just push all the stuff you’re scared to look at under the surface.
When a child comes to you troubled, you don’t dismiss her, you don’t lecture her. You hold her, you let her talk, cry, do whatever she needs to do. You let her know that she’s safe and you love her and you’ll protect her, help her figure things out. You embrace her, but within that embrace you give her space. You let her know that you think the world of her. You take all the pressure of the world away, and let her have the experience of unconditional love.
Out of that embrace she will emerge when she’s ready. Then she’ll want to hear what you have to say about a strategy to help her resolve whatever’s troubling her. Furthermore, she’ll naturally start seeing anew that in her world which is exciting, she’ll want to engage. Happens with boy children too, I’m not excluding them! Just using he/she all the time is clumsy.
I’ve seen it work with real children, and it works for me as an inner dialogue. My whole childhood and young adulthood was characterized by people not bothering to listen to me. It just caused a lo9t of real pain and confusion, so I’ve done that experience, thanks. No more for me. I want to be conscious of what’s bothering me. And I also want to be able to remain conscious of that in my world which is wonderful. This kind of inner dialogue lets me have both. I’m always reassured at some level with “real”. When things are packed away or covered up I get real uneasy.
I prefer to look at the stuff that bothers me, even when it terrifies me. Pandora’s Box, once it’s opened, can be terrifying. All sorts of ghosts and things that you didn’t even know existed come whooshing out at you. It’s horrifying to see that your life is out of control in ways you’ve seen in others but never imagined was true for you.
But challenging as it is to face those ghosts, they have much more power when you can’t see them than when you expose them to the light. Better to let them out because you will get through the terror to a place when they can’t bother you any more, they have no power to hold you hostage.
I prefer to try and live my life like Sheriff Bell, at a real level and metaphorically. He sees what is terrifying to him, and he deals with it. But he doesn’t let it poison his entire world. At least I hope he doesn’t. I haven’t finished the book yet, and didn’t see the movie. Well no matter how his fictional life ends, I won’t let mine end badly.
And as to Pandora’s Box, I read the other day that the last item to emerge from it was Hope.