Sunday, July 8, 2018

When the World Objects to Your Stupid Theories

I listened to a round-table discussion this week held by a mix of psychologists, philosophers and pundits. They were arguing amiably about various esoteric topics, when the psychologist among them said, "The world is made up of that which objects to our stupid theories.” This literally stopped me in my tracks, as I realized he was profoundly correct. I spend much of my life contending with the dissolution of numerous stupid theories of my own, such as the theory that love conquers all, and that my core beliefs would never change, and that my spouse is responsible for my happiness, and that my neighborhood would always have a Denny’s. The psychologist went on to explain that when our stupid theories are demolished by the chaotic forces of the universe, we end up traumatized to some degree or another and have to re-order our emotional structure and sometimes our physical lives to adapt to the “new” reality.

It occurred to me that I could stop harboring stupid theories if I willed myself to, but the problem is, one does not know that one’s theory is stupid until it is proven so, usually in a brutal and unexpected manner. I’ve concluded that the best thing to do is to strengthen myself: Always expect a body blow to my deepest held myths, and train emotionally for those blows. Be strong, build resilience, and never get complacent. There’s constant talk about the importance of strengthening our core physically, but not so much about strengthening our core emotionally. I’m in training, and getting ready for the next bout of stupid theory-demolishing to come.

On a lighter note, I was delighted to receive a postcard recently from a friend and co-worker who has been in Norway for the past few weeks. The card features a beautiful room with hand-painted walls depicting birds, vines, and clouds against a soft blue sky.  My friend wrote, “This is the Bird Room of the Royal Palace. It’s a waiting room—people wait here until their appointment with the King of Norway.” I was enchanted, and immediately began plotting how I get could get myself an appointment with the King of Norway. I want to be able to drop that casually into a conversation: “I’m terribly sorry, I can’t make that meeting because that’s when I have my appointment with the King of Norway.” “I’m flying off to meet the King of Norway. Back in a jiff!” Also, I looked him up, and the King of Norway, Harald V, sounds like someone who would be fun to talk to. He went to military school, competed on the Olympic sailing team, and (gasp) married a commoner. If nothing else, I’d get to sit in the splendor of the Bird Room and revel in the fact that I am important enough to be meeting the King of Norway. Once I land upon the perfect ruse, I shall announce my meeting post-haste.

I thought I would post a video of some Norwegian choir music, but…it’s all just too heavy and ponderous for a sunny Sunday in July. Maybe I’ll consider it for a cold, gray November day.

--Kristen McHenry

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