Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Measure of Madness

I’m quite sure Yann Martel was not talking about divorce in Life of Pi, when he wrote about the "measure of madness" that drives us:

But even animals that were bred in zoos and have never known the wild, that are perfectly adapted to their enclosures and feel no tension in the presence of humans, will have moments of excitement that push them to seek to escape. All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, and sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving; it is part and parcel of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive.

But that’s exactly what occurred to me when I read it. It’s like a marriage in which the pair are quite calm and seemingly content with their enclosure, and then, in what appears to be a moment of madness, someone says “no more of this prison!”

I’m thinking of the people that come to me, talking endlessly about their relationships, yet drowning as if in quicksand, as the life is slowly sucked out of them. It’s not madness at all, just great difficulty acknowledging that something isn’t working. That the house has become a cage.

And Martel goes on, Pi is speaking now about how he comes to understand his lifeboat:

I did not grasp all these details—and many more—right away. They came to my notice with time and as a result of necessity. I would be in the direst of dire straits, facing a bleak future, when some small thing, some detail, would transform itself and appear in my mind in a new light. It would no longer be the small thing it was before, but the most important thing in the world, the thing that would save my life.

And this is precisely what happens when we make changes. We figure out things using bits and pieces that heretofore seemed inconsequential. They become important. And gradually, we know exactly what to do. It might be the divorce, it might be the new career, indeed, it might be anything.

As a life coach and psychotherapist I’m always interested in moving this process along a bit quicker, thereby decreasing discomfort and increasing happiness. I’d like people to recognize their cages for what they are, and sooner rather than later plan their exits swiftly and gracefully.

Pi’s journey is inspiring. It’s a great book. I might add, Pi has a lot of grit. And the bottom line is about the power of relationship.

Related theme: Once in a Lifetime – Talking Heads

2 comments:

Dumuro said...
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