To See Or Not To See
Article by Jo Anne Tharalson
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
(Socrates, Greek philosopher)
“One thing about an unexamined life is it doesn’t give you a lot of grief!”
(Burt Bradley, Atlanta psychiatrist)
When I first read the Burt Bradley quote in a 1993 Vancouver Sun article on diaries, I snorted with amusement.
But, alas, even as I wrote the quote down in my commonplace book, I knew it wasn’t true. It was funny, but it definitely wasn’t true. An unexamined life can give you a whole lot of grief.
How many times have I failed to take the time to identify my true feelings about a situation, tried to ignore what was happening and why. “There’s something I really need to do right now; but this evening I’ll think this through,” I tell myself. Come evening, other possibilities shove my promised self-examination aside. And so the unresolved situation continues, hidden but casting its shadow over the inner life, influencing behaviour and state of mind.
That is one of the great uses of the labyrinth. Walking the labyrinth regularly becomes an appointment with oneself. It is a time set aside for the care, feeding and house cleaning of the inner world. Open the windows and let light shine into the cluttered dark corners.
Sometimes the unacknowledged fear, the suppressed anger, the hidden pain and denied sadness pop to the surface as if they had only been waiting to be seen. At other times we may sense at last what truly gives us joy and pleasure instead of merely distracting us or occupying our time.
Then we can move … in a better direction.