On Tolerating Oneself, or Signing Peace Treaties With Our Minds
And then my mind arrived, monstrously large, a mixture of rosy green and red, wrapped in cerebrospinal fluid, already with an imposing air even though it was the perfect image of the messiest room in a house. It sat down at the table in the chair facing mine. We remained in silence for a few minutes, the waiter approached with two glasses of water. At the same time, we stared at the water, and slowly we started to drink it. After sipping on it, we faced each other again. Nobody said anything. No expression was shown. A shiver ran down my spine and I saw my mind tremble quickly with me. I don’t really like it when my mind is quiet like this. Of course, I constantly try to get used to the idea of solitude and deal with my presence only, but those moments of silence between you and your mind are really difficult to live. Then, finally, it spoke. We begin the conversation by concluding that in fact, no matter how much it wants to rebel, I am still its owner and, unlike the lockean vision of divine children being free from the clutches of parental responsibilities, I still answer for my mind. It did not like the idea very much. Like it or not, the thoughts are mine. I felt it uncomfortable in that slippery quasi-green liquid. Its look of mistrust and petulance thickened.
I told my mind that it should be more tolerant of me, of life, of everything that concerns us. It let out a grunt like a sneer of laughter, and as if in an attempt to keep itself from saying anything that would irritate me, it tried to calm down by drinking some more of the water. See? I said I control you. Your thoughts are mine, you cannot totally go against what I say. But then, unable to hold back its revolt, my mind was finally against the calm of the tide that I tried to install in our brains. It said that there is no tolerance for intolerance. It said there is no peace in the middle of the war. It said that it is impossible to respond to hatred with love when that hatred is already at a level of irrationality beyond the capacity of other minds to understand the situation in which they find themselves. It said it’s tired of being condescending to someone else’s indiscipline. It said it doesn’t understand why it has to be the fish that swims against the shoal, almost dying suffocated in the strength of those who go to the other side. My mind was so vehement in what it said that for a few seconds it ran out of air. I ran out of air too.
I let it finish its talking. It was needing to do so. Minds are like this — the more they talk, the more exhausted they get, especially if they’re excited about wanting to challenge us. But the secret to this is precisely: to let the minds speak freely and, before answering them, to wait a reasonable time for them to refresh themselves of all the effort used in their discourses of revolt. A fifteen-minute recess from a family audience — take advantage of this recess so you do not have a worse discussion than that between parents trying to secure their children’s livelihood before a judge. Because we are more like mothers who fight for their rights than like the judges of ourselves, no matter how much we think we are the ideal mediators of our relationships with our minds. Otherwise, we wouldn’t need therapy. We are excessively zealous mothers of our psyches, so to see them revolting against what we say are the rules scares us, scares us very much. But it is inevitable, it is part of growth, this is how our children mature.
After my mind momentarily rebelled, after we breathed deeply, we started thinking. I directed our conversation to a path that was colder and less tortuous. We thought simultaneously about how difficult it is to deal with revolts outside our body and that if we are to have an internal revolution, it has to be a nonviolent one. Or we will not survive, literally. I proposed to my mind that we sign a temporary ceasefire agreement. My mind must stop for a while with the nuclear tests it’s been doing on the frontiers of my brain, and I must give the order that the fighter jets I have sent over the territorial limits of sanity to come back and be stocked indefinitely. We looked at each other, me and my mind, once again, yet a little wary. I know we both have fears that we are starting an internal cold war worse than the world witnessed in the 20th century, but there was no other way, neither of us wanted an armed fight. Not now, at this moment in which my mind is in the process of aggrandizement itself and I’m in the process of practice of this aggrandizement. Perhaps things will get a little strange between us for a while, but I don’t hate capitalism and it does not hate communism. We are communists, capitalists, Christians and Muslims. Perhaps this is the reason for so much confusion, but deep down, at the bottom of our hearts, we like it. In the end, we always grow together, my mind and I.