Farewell, Righteous Mind.
Season 1 Finale | Writer's Commentary
How open is your heart today?
Is your mind too loud to take this question seriously?
Does talking about the heart, annoy you?
Are you angry right now?
Or did thinking about your heart, put a giddy smile on your face?
Are you afraid? Of the pandemic? Of the war? Of inflation? Of AI? Of Poverty? Of the Prom? Of Your dad beating you? Of sex? Of fascism?
Whatever the state that I find you in today, may you allow yourself to feel it completely.
Emotions are everything. Let them pass. That’s all you need to know.
I write you this momentary farewell while I sit in front of a glistening sun that is setting on an ever-expanding, rolling desert.
The mountains seem to hold the view together, just like a portrait.
A belt of lusciously green shrubs and curvy Joshua trees grows loudly despite the desert’s harshness.
This desert is where I conjured writing a novel in the first place. It feels good to be in it. It feels even better to share it with you all, my beloved audience, and GUMPnation!
This season's finale commentary feels more like a channeling from that desert, and there are overwhelming emotions that come with it.
May you take what you need from this post and be at peace with what you don’t.
This past month has been an emotional one, as my partner and I navigate uncertainty with our living situation and our careers.
But perhaps more so, it has been emotional because things have not been going our way. Covid, mandates, forest fires, flat tires and hurricanes seem to be conspiring together against anything we hoped to get out of this 2-month trip.
I had originally come to the US to give a talk but it never worked out due to strict vaccination rules. I got the vaccine but hadn't hit the 14-day mark. I'm sure that’s not the worst thing that happened in Vegas that day, but it really sucked!
I wrote a LinkedIn article about surrender that has been very popular on the platform. I reveled in the likes and comments for a few days and felt heard and validated.
That was until my wife read it. It was not very popular with her.
Sometimes you only meet your edge in the confines of your own breakfast table with your family. She noted something that was profound but had escaped me.
Would this have been equally popular if you had not announced your full fledged support of the vaccine? Do you think people would have been as excited, had you been against it?
She had a point, where were the anti-vax folks? This was just like the silence from Israeli contacts towards my very Pro-Palestinian posts. I know about the echo chamber, we all do by now. That is so 2018.
She was right, but I felt attacked. I wanted to make my point: Vaccines are good, and yes people should take them.
She was not against that, but she had a different point to make: It should be up to us to say what goes into our bodies.
We debated fiercely.
“Vaccines are a scientific miracle” I announced, quoting the latest Pubmed articles I've read.
I felt my heart close up and my pupils constrict.
“I love science too, but why would anyone force any drug upon me?” she replied, quite calmly.
My back arched forward, and my shoulders raised themselves as though protecting my face.
“This isn't about personal freedom. It's a public health crisis.” I said with an air of certainty, you’d think I was Dr. Tedros from the WHO.
“I don’t trust it.” she said
“Well I trust vaccines more than viruses.” I said
“Look, it just doesn’t feel good in my body. Something deep inside me says No. Maybe we should just not discuss this anymore.”
Our arguments piled up on each other and before we knew it, the kitchen table seemed like it had been stretched to become dozens of feet wide.
I quickly realized that America had swallowed us in her political quicksand.
Welcome to your self-righteous, punk-ass mind!
We’re taking a break from Carl Jung this week, and invite you to visit the work of a much more contemporary psychologist: Jonathan Haidt.
In his earlier book, The Happiness Hypothesis, the moral psychologist dives into his research on emotions and how they drive human decisions. He described certain parts of our neurology as pertaining to either emotion “(aka Elephant) or rational thinking brain/logic (aka the Rider).
He found that patients who had a deficit/malfunction in the emotional components of their neurology have an almost complete inability to make decisions.
He concludes, from many fascinating experiments, that despite how much we like to think of ourselves as rational beings, we are massively driven by our emotions.
When we try to convince each other of our logical arguments, we tend to forget that if they disagree with us then their emotional elephants are just at a different place than ours.
Instead of acknowledging that, we fight each other and try to make sure that our tiny riders are right. We do that by trying hard to convince other riders along the way, and boy do we hate it when other riders won’t give in!
That’s why you are righteous. That is why you have a punk-ass rider! Don’t take it personally. We all are.
We have been programmed to give too much power to our riders. We overvalue the thinking-brain and massively undervalue our feeling-brain.
Fascists however know really well how to appeal to our emotions. They inflame these elephants directly, and they count on them to keep people believing in them.
Rational arguments stand no chance against them, and the rational mind becomes a righteous one, that is quite feeble compared to strong emotional experiences.
We are divided, and that is how we are controlled.
Black Vs White. Male Vs Female. Masks Vs No Masks.
The more we hate other people’s elephants, the more depleted we feel. We are given logical arguments that we use as excuses to do the lazy work of hate and bypass the tough work of compassion.
The more in tune you are with how you feel, the better your decision-making becomes.
The ego is deeply attached to being right. One of the centerpieces of all of the dramas in our life is our need to being right.
I am emotionally invested in being for the vaccine, I come from a scientific background and the people that I look up to in the digital health world are all strong proponents of it. We are like a herd of elephants preaching the same benefits.
There are many other elephants in the room though, and it seems to me that we have no compassion or space in our hearts for these elephants to exist. In this case, my gut instinct was going against my wife’s.
I can’t run away from it, and neither can she. The pain of the world lay right there in between us on the kitchen table, and we could not mute or block each other.
Although we kinda tried at first.
At first, things were so tender that we decided not to talk about it.
That is why it has been so hard to get this blog post out to you guys in time. I learned that sometimes things have to settle in real life before I can digest and write about them. As of today's date, I still can’t say that we have overcome this.
What we did was that we started directing our riders, we worked hard on acknowledging that we are emotionally opposed to each other, and we carved a new path with that in mind.
Slowly, we realized that we both just really want the best for each other, and want to protect one another.
Suddenly, there was much more space for both of our perspectives to simultaneously exist. Today, the kitchen table is back to its intimate size and this difference between us seems to actually bring us closer.
Once our riders were given direction, and we had connected with our own (and each other’s) emotional states/ elephants, we are now on the same path again. It was not easy, but we did cross some thresholds. This continues to be a swim against the current, but I do believe that there are lakes and waterfalls on the other side of this work. Not just for us as a couple, but for us as humans.
It’s beautiful to feel like we can go down the same path without necessarily accepting each other’s worldview. We still don’t agree on the same things, but it is no longer in between us poisoning our relationship with each another.
Would you believe me if I told you that emotions pass through you within 90 seconds? Yeah, that’s it!
I have been known to hold a grudge before I learned that expressing my emotions is the most healing thing I can do for myself.
I realized that holding on was fueling my depression for such a long time. The body also feels it when we repress our emotions.
When I learned that emotions only lasts for 90 seconds, I was fascinated!
I don’t have to hold on to that weight anymore. When I sunk into my elephant, I no longer had to burden my rider with that which he can’t control.
Emotions can be released in many ways.
Expression is one, movement is another, and meditation is yet another one. Whatever you choose, just feel these feelings, and heal whatever it is that wants to be healed.
When I think back in time, to early on when the vaccine was first announced, I remember being against it and her actually being way more curious about it. I remember her asking me as we snuggled on a couch:
What do you think of this vaccine?” she asked me an innocuous way.
“Mmmm. I don’t know, it usually takes way longer to test an mRNA vaccine. Sounds rushed to be honest.” I said to her.
Yeah, emotions pass and your decisions will change accordingly.
So what if you stop working so hard on being right today?
Get over it, you punk-ass rider!
Thank you for the hard work that you do rider, but it is ok for you to take a break.
With that, I bid you farewell.
We made it to chapter 11!
Thanks for listening to Season 1.
Stay tuned for our last Gumpcast episode with a man so adept at elephant training, it is his actual last name.
Join us with Atta Pilram for Episode 11 and prepare for an emotional and raw season 1 finale of the Gumpcast.
We have a lot of announcements coming up, so stay with us and share In Search of Gumption with someone who can appreciate this work!
Thanks for reading, listening, and being curious.