Tuesday, March 23, 2004


My bookshelf contains an uncomfortably large number of unread books, testament to an entirely irrational desire to own the works in question, even when I know I have no immediate time to read them. Maybe I thought I’d absorb the words by some osmotic process, without actually having to open them and go through the laborious process of reading the words. Amongst them is Erich Fromm’s “The Fear of Freedom”. Even though I haven’t read it, I’m guessing that it must be a very powerful book indeed, since even just reading the title on the spine has already had a profound impact.

Most people’s lives are bound by chains of some sort, maybe heavy and immobilising; maybe lighter, only noticed when all the slack has been taken up and suddenly they become taught, preventing further movement. My life is no different to anyone else’s in that respect – a mix of heavy and light chains that constrain but without apparently over-restricting.

Chains bring predictability; their weight lends a sense of certainty – whatever this place might be, I wont be moving far from it, and that knowledge of one less thing to worry about brings a kind of comfort. A corner of my mind can slumber, safe in the security of those chains.

Remove them though, those chains that so channel thought and feeling into safe, predictable, familiar ways, and the whole territory of ideas and possibilities and emotions that had been safely out of reach, becomes accessible; an entire landscape of new ways of being to inhabit and explore, with no bounds other than those I choose. A territory whose paths cross unnoticed the invisible boundary between reality and possibility, into a land of both dreams and nightmares, where anything can, and probably will, happen.

Such wide open spaces of the mind can be scary; standing at the edge of a vertiginous drop in this world of no limits, were I to jump, would I soar like a bird or crash bloody and broken onto the rocks below?

The counselling process in which I’m currently engaged is having the unexpected effect of breaking the links in some of these chains, many of which weren’t actually attached to anything, but were simply dead weights to carry around. Released suddenly from their bonds, I bounce around this new landscape like a manic rubber ball, from dream to nightmare and back again, with no firm footing in any place. Or perhaps even that too is part of the dream.

In the face of such freedom, the security of a cage can seem quite attractive. But it remains a cage nonetheless.

[Later edit:
I ought to add that this post is retrospective - I'm trying here to capture something of the freeing-up of states of being that has been engendered by the counselling process. Whilst caught up in the process it is difficult to step back and view what's going on, so it's only now having moved on a step or two that is becomes possible to look back and see something of what was happening at the time].

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