The Psychological Function of Emotion

You are permitted to share my thoughts, print them off, and create your own interpretations of them should you find them valuable as I hope you will.

Emotion is the sea of the soul as it stirs and crashes against the expectations of the heart; a kind of tidal lock between perfection and reality.

I dip a quill into ink, pondering what it means to feel.

Are not all men born into a romance with their own sense of perfection? The perfect lover, the perfect goal, the perfect business objective, the perfect nation, the perfect life, the perfect world…
Constantly we fall victims to the doctrines of our minds which yearn to achieve this idealized state of attaining perfection –

If I only had this one more thing in my life, then life would be properly beautiful.
If I only had this one treasure in my possession, then I would be properly rich.
If only I was without sin, then I would be properly saintly.
If only my lover would say they love me correctly, then I would be properly loved…

Yet, even after we attain that which we most desire, we come to recognize that it is not what we had thought it to be.

Our lover, for whom the passion of our hearts burst forth strikes a discordant chord and we are taken aback; we question their ability to love us before we question how we define love.
Our career, in which we actualize a sense of purpose in being productive for some higher reason, reveals its inability to satisfy that inmost validation that we seek and so we question our jobs before we question our purpose or our higher reasons.

And so, we swim from one emotional shore to the next, adrift in the pursuit of attaining the ideal state that our mind promises will satisfy us; like mice running the wheels of the ego’s desires.

Indeed, the degree to which an individual visualizes perfection and strives to attain it corresponds to the violence they are capable of inflicting upon the world or themselves for the sake of its attainment – zealous radicalism born of narrow-mindedness.

However, there is much to learn from the ideas we all carry and call perfect.
Because that perfection, that dream, that idealized goal – that is the canvas on which an individual’s psyche is projected.

That is to say that the way a person thinks, the way a specific individual houses consciousness is unique to only them. Only they think like they.
All of the schematic underpinnings of their personality which have been honed or allowed to run rampant from youth into adulthood constitute the framework through which they see the world.

In this way, the mind of an individual is quite like its own world.
Memories housed deep within the psyche that were sewn in positive emotion sculpt their mental landscape like a sunlit forest, or the warm waters of a gentle shoreline.
Likewise, memories rooted in pains and fears sculpt the landscape into towering mountains, dark dense forests, and jagged rock.

We all walk ‘in’, ‘through’ and ‘as’ the bearers of these inner worlds every day, and all of the information we receive from the real world influences how we feel. The light from the real world shines forth, casting shadows in some regions of our psyche and illuminating other regions.

Typically, the ego operates as such that we shift our eyes from reality, changing how we see truth so that the light strikes regions we are comfortable with, often leaving the looming hills in shadow – validating the biases which slope our perceptions, deepening the oceans, heightening the mountains.

But as these chasms deepen, as the differences in the landscape grow, we are more prone to instability. Victims of our own neuroticism.

How then are we to reconcile the worlds of our minds with the world we live in without amplifying discord?

We must allow every region of our inner being to be struck by the light of reality.
We must not allow ourselves to hide from the dark parts of our inner psyche. For the darkness only grows when it is not acknowledged.

We cannot thrive if we stay the same and never change.
Some individuals are comfortable living in melancholy for in those dark hills they hear music and art. Others find music and art at the shoreline and so, they too stay comfortable.

But no one changed the world by remaining comfortable.

Who we are fundamentally dictates where we reverberate the inspiration we receive from existence.
It is imperative that we take in the information which challenges us to cast light against our own darkness.
It is vital that we investigate the caverns of our thoughts and liberate ourselves from the binds of our lesser selves which demand we remain distracted and adrift.

Truth is the blade that sculpts the minds of men into houses of art.

I breathe to seek it.

The Vulture

Benjamin walked toward the podium to the applause of the crowd, one hand raised out of appreciation.

He paused for a moment, lifting the microphone to meet his stature, and calmly looked out until we quieted.

I was a boy then and recall my eagerness and anticipation for his words still today.

 

He began, “The Island of Fate was for a long time hidden from us. As you all now know, this is no longer the case. I was fortunate enough to partake in the expedition that led to its discovery and, subsequently, was the one to discover the body of the vulture and the scroll.”

Clearing his throat, he gave some details that bored me as a child. Details regarding the integrity of the paper, estimates of its age and antiquity, a hypothesis about the plants used as ink, and finally he began to talk about how he came to discover the enormous bird that they had found and of the scroll itself.

“With my pistol drawn I entered into a narrow passageway carved into the rock. I only discovered it because I went to tie my shoe and saw it behind the vines.”

He chuckled and continued, “At the end of the passage there was a circular room with seven stars engraved in the stone. There, in the center, was the corpse of the vulture lurched over and decayed on the floor. I almost shot it honestly.  At a glance, the bird’s corpse looked like it was some sort of living horror, especially in the torchlight. As you surely know from the pictures, it is an oddly shaped specimen, massive, and cloaked in black feathers. Clutched in its talons was the scroll.”

We applauded then.

 

Graciously he raised his hand, “It is an absolute honor to read to you, today, the translation of the scroll.”

I recall the look in my mother’s eyes as she watched Benjamin, my father, deliver the speech. They were filled with the kind of light that only a love of immeasurable depth can begin to reflect. All of the years of him away had amounted to this moment.

 

We stopped applauding and he began to read,

“On this island of warring nations life and death battle one another. Every year each nation offers a warrior to the clearing. It is there that they fight.

One year, an elk was chased into the clearing by wolves at the time of war. There, it was slaughtered in front of the eyes of the two warriors.

Wolves are sacred to the tribe of death and elk are sacred to the tribe of life.

The warrior of death shouted, “Don’t you see, our god is stronger than your god! Death always wins. Give up your foolish ways and embrace us once and for all.

The warrior of life shouted back, “Don’t you see – our god has given your god life in the sacrifice of itself. Lay down your weapons and honor us in gratitude”.

We are the judges of their contradiction.”

 

When he finished reading the translation, the hall was silent. I looked at my mother and recall the look of confusion on her face.

I too was confused and recall thinking, ‘All of those years away for that?’