A few years ago, there was a video circulating around the internet of a blogger who was trying to start a blog, but kept getting distracted with Facebook and Reddit, so he posted an ad on Craigslist for someone to sit beside him and slap him across the face every time he got distracted. Apparently the experiment was relatively successful. Maybe not everyone has wished for a personal slapper, but everyone has certainly experienced the dissapointment of having started at point A with every intent on reaching point B by a certain time, and then, hours later, found themselves deep in something else.
Over the last two years, I've had the most interesting and frustrating journey with tarot cards. I started learning them two years ago and early on, began to see the connection between its archetypes and those of the Enneagram, which drove me to understand tarot as much as I could. Surely, somewhere in humanity's distant history, the two modalities were used side-by-side, or at least they cross-pollinated each other over time.
I was watching the Raptors versus Knicks game yesterday, and the TSN commentators brought up Patrick Patterson and Demarre Carole. Yesterday was the Raptors' 50th win this season, so they're doing extremely well. Yesterday it was mentioned that, due to coach Casey's work on the team over the past seven years, this is the golden era of Raptors basketball. But no matter how good you are, there's still tension and excitement in the air because playoffs are starting in five days. Moreover, the Raptors are playing the Cavaliers this Wednesday, who are #1 in the Eastern Conference.
So the TSN commentator, Jack Armstrong, was saying that if Patrick Patterson and Demarre Carole can take their game up a notch, this team can be a definite contender against the LeBron Jameses and the Steph Curries of the playoffs. They need to work on their 3-point shooting, and if they can do that, the Raptors will have a serious chance going forward.
As if on cue, Patrick Patterson starting scoring a bunch of threes in the fourth quarter, but it made me think about these two guys because they stand out to me for a different reason. Apart from DeRozan himself, they are two of the only Self-Preservation guys on the team. (I've written a lot about the Self-Preservation versus Social versus Sexual instincts here on this blog, but you can also google it.) Their team has a really Social feel, and when you're Self-Pres around a bunch of Socials, it takes a little more work to get grounded and feel part of the team's groove. "Reading the groove" in a group is a language that takes some skill- it comes super naturally to Socials of course; Self-Preses have to be more mindful about relaxing into it, and when there's nerves, three-pointers tend to get missed. Of course, I don't know these guys personally, and there is also Sexual (a more intensely-focused energy, not necessarily "sexual" as in sex, and definitely not in this context) energy on the team as well with Ibaka and Tucker being brought on recently.
But my heart goes out to two guys who have a bit extra work to do in the Social department to not only fit in as a Raptor, but also respect their own groove, because when you're a minority around Socials, it can make you feel less smart, less capable, and less present. (DeRozan is a different story. As a Type 9, he's got something different going on. Nines blend into anything, and Self-Pres Nines just don't care what anyone thinks of them.)
Anyway, that's my Enneagram perspective on those two guys. If anyone has different insight, let me know!
There was once a man who was given a particular set of math problems to solve during his lifetime. Everyone on earth was given some kind of problem, and for him it was math. He was a great orator, saying many things at length, but over the years, people eventually saw that his speeches were lacking in substance, for he couldn't solve his math problems and was just saying a lot of things without saying anything, although how impressive were his words! And his confidence! And his voice! Thankfully he was discovering this his growing teenage daughter could solve the math problems. He'd call her into his office and say, "Iris, solve this for me." And she would. Happy to move on to the next problem, he'd thank and dismiss her. By the time he was in his fifties, he was overwhelmed. The problems were getting too complex for him. Although he loved the attention he got for the sexiness of the problems he was getting assigned, he hated math, and didn't like spending time on the equations when he could be speaking in the market square. He needed to give the entire assignment over to his daughter. He organized a big ceremony in the neighborhood to honor her, made great speeches about math, how coincidentally gifted his daughter was, and at the apex of the night, in front of her family and all her neighborhood friends, handed her his entire folder of math assignments. The attendees cheered, and so, under pressure to be smiling, but feeling her eyes sting with tears, she clumsily curtsied and accepted the "gift".
The party continued late into the night, and when people came up to congratulate her, only a handful of people noticed that now Iris had two sets of assignments in her arms- her fathers bourgeoning folder, and a smaller, thinner folder. Her own assignments had only recently been delivered to her, and the delivery person had his face covered when he came, so she had very little to go on. Not nearly enough to pay attention to. So the next day, she packed up her things and went on a long journey to find the answers to her father's math problems.
The journey took many, many years. She travelled all over the world by foot, by boat, by cart and bus, and after quite some turmoil, ended up at a fair in a dry and dusty desert. She walked past a booth where a young, enterprising man was speaking to a small crowd- a handful of people only- maybe just 5 or 6 men; and she stopped and joined the crowd. He was the creator of her father's math problems. He had three small, white packages in his hands, and he was explaining what happened when someone didn't complete their own math assignments. With the first package in his hand, he explained that if someone completed all the math problems themselves-- he held it above a pool of water-- it floated above the surface of the water, and no damage was caused to the contents of the package. With the second package in his hand, he went on to explain what happened when a student saddled other people in his life with his math problems here and there. He dropped it in the pool of water, and this one stopped short of falling in the water, but just touched the surface of the water. Slowly, through osmosis, the contents of the package became wet and were ruined. Finally with the third package in his hand, he demonstrated what happened to a student who gave his assignment completely over to someone else, and he dropped the package in the water, and it was fully submersed. The men around the booth gasped; the contents were completely ruined-- at least they thought so. Knowing that the math problems that the weary, dust-covered woman was carrying were not her own, the teacher leaned down to open up the third package. He pulled out its contents and gave it to Iris. It was a gift for the person who carried someone else's assignment: a set of tarot cards sealed in a plastic wrap. The cards were dry! And they were for her! They were beautiful, too; the reverse was black with little designs of jewels and flowers, and the pictures themselves looked hand-drawn by a real artist.
Iris couldn't contain her happiness, she left the booth smiling broadly with the cards in her hand. Over the next few years, she taught herself how to use them. With them, she made friends and established a life for herself in her new country. She still had her father's math problems with her, but she never carried the folder around like she used to. She could go out and leave it at home. Every once in a while, she'd peek in, but mostly she was concerned with her own growing assignment. She was eager to understand the problems in her own folder- they were not math- they were of a different nature- her set of assignments dealt with music, but she couldn't figure out how to solve them, an they were growing heavier and heavier with each passing year. She tried doing what her father had done- "sub-assigning" them to hapless passersby, but nobody took the bait- at least not like she had with her father. Resigned to being burried under a mass of music assignments, she carried them as much as she could in a carry-on strapped to her chest, and as the paper piled higher, she noticed how they covered her face, and she was glad to note one day that if no one could see her face, they couldn't hand her any more assignments!
One day, the answer came. She was in the market square with two of her friends. They were at the garlic and ginger seller's booth, when a short, well-dressed man approached them from behind and tapped Iris on the shoulder. She whirled around quickly, and amidst loose assignment papers flying around her, she saw a stout, important-looking man holding a pen and paper, looking up at her. He wore a white, ruffled shirt and from within the ruffles around his neck arose a dignified voice. "Iris", he said, "a committee has met and noticed how strong your ab muscles are from all that carrying you're doing." He motioned to her laborsome carrying pack. "Every year, the most talented musicians and lyricists are commissioned to write three songs for three lucky winners, and with that powerful diaphragm of yours, you are one of them. I am the composer of one of the three songs." Iris was caught off guard and had to hold on to the ginger booth behind her to support both herself and her carrying pack. She wasn't used to winning anything, but she loved the idea and she accepted a time to meet with the man to learn his song.
The next day, at the agreed upon practicing space, he asked her to leave her carrying pack at the door. She walked to the piano in the middle of the room on her tippie toes, surprised at how light she felt, and she sat down at the piano. He taught her how to play, and he wrote her lyrics for her as she played. She was to be ready to perform at next year's big concert, and ready she would be. But for now, Iris was overjoyed at the beautiful music she was playing and singing.
Every time I give an Enneagram talk, I discard the old one and completely re-write it. I don't know why because it ends up being very similar to the previous one, although I do get something out of the repetition. Writing the material over and over again gets me more and more familiar with each psychic structure, reinforcing how our personality types are triggered as we descend down the levels into a contracted state, and what landmarks we meet as we go up into the realm of expansive emotional well-being.
According to the 19th century psychoanalyst Karen Horney, there are three categories of people in the world, those who become more assertive under stress, those who become more dutiful to the Superego when stressed, and those who withdraw from the world. The Enneagram, with its nine types, fits neatly into this model of human behavior, with three Enneagram types in each Hornevian category. Types 3, 7, and 8 become more assertive, types 1, 2, and 6 become more compliant toward Superego demands, and types 4, 5, and 9 withdraw into themselves.
A couple years ago, a woman I know developped a rare condition. The symptoms of her condition, affecting a mere 6,000 people in the world, are mostly invisible, so her regular doctors had a hard time believing she was really in pain. After about year of physical pain coupled with the psychological torment of watching her life unravel, no longer able to work, drive, think straight, or get enough sleep, and not knowing why, she eventually- and incredibly- found a specialist a mere ten hours away who knew about her illness, a massive comfort after encountering hostility and skepticism from her general practitioners.
This book is an easy read if you like heart-stopping entrepreneurial tales of survival against almost paralyzing odds. The first half of the book reads really fast- it's the author's breathtaking account of his leading Loudcloud and Opsware as CEO during the 90's and surviving the 2000's-era dot com bust by going public when all his competitors were filing for bankruptcy. The second half of the book is a compendium of "what to do in these specific scenarios", and takes a bit longer to get through.
I feel ill-qualified to write a blogpost about depression this morning; there are hundreds of millions of articles on the internet about it, many of which are written by medical doctors who've been studying psychology for several years. Having depression doesn't necessarily qualify a person to write about it for two reasons.
It's been about two weeks since I last blogged- I've had the summer off, and I just went back to work and am mentally climbing out of the mountain of papers on my desk.
Here are the insights that have captured my attention in the last two weeks: