Enneagram Woes

Hey there denizens of the internet who happen to have stumbled on to my blog, or have subscribed to it! Phew! Lengthy greeting out of the way, I can now concentrate on what I want to talk about. My inherent mistrust of people who are alive. Wait, let me clarify. I mean theories put forth by people who are alive. Death probably lends them a certain glamour and gravitas that life sorely lacks. For context, I am talking about the Enneagram Tritype theory. While I am happy that the people who put it forth are alive… I can’t help but feel a little disappointed. You might think it is great that they are, and accessible to me with the power of social media. But I happen to think a little differently. I will tell you why. Too much accessibility kills the star quality. It kills the aura of mystery and allure, laying bare before us, the man or woman. Case in point? Like when I finished American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson. Now any time I watch his show re-runs, my way of viewing them has been forever altered. I will always have context now as to what happened behind the scenes on a particular day, and sometimes… Only sometimes… Maybe things work better interpreted subjectively. Without a whole lot of backstory. Jokes for instance. The glimmer of his humour has dimmed a little, but my admiration for him has definitely gone up.

The other reason being, social media allows us to engage in (pseudo) intellectual discourse with these experts, and most of the times the conversations had via this medium lack the depth of research that goes into a painstakingly written book or article. Before you know, a certain kinship owing to the frequency of interaction has developed creating a soft bias in the mind, making one more susceptible to  buying into their theory propaganda. Despite being a person with a general proclivity towards skepticism, even I have fallen into this trap; I have been enchanted by “experts” only to realise with some gap of time and reduction in frequency, the loopholes in their explanations and understanding. That led to the inevitable disenchantment with discourse over social media about these kind of topics and more, which require much forethought and careful research before shooting off replies. After all, my generation did project work in school going through dusty tomes and spent long hours in libraries not because of some romanticism they carry, but out of necessity.

Going back to my mistrust of alive theorists, when I was taking apart the Enneagram system to try and understand it; I came upon the tritype theory which posits that each person has a head, heart and gut approach to solving problems; and how they deal with fear, shame and anger either by denying it, expressing it or repressing it. That’s a bit of an oversimplification, but Google it if you want to know more. To be honest‌, I am not sure I understood it fully myself. With every system of typology there is always the chance of fitting the fact to suit the theory and I think that might be one of my prime pet peeves about theorists alive when they apply their theories to explaining pop culture events and people. Then again, my other issue is that it wouldn’t have been in practice for long enough to have earned some modicum of respect as an established system. I am not talking about just peer approval here, but the fact that it lends the system an air of solid comfort. Like that old jumper from ten years which is soft and downy. What it might amount to is just the knee jerk response of skepticism to new theories which I must test for loopholes myself and ensure that they are fool proof. There are so many aspects added to the Tritype theory alone, that it fails to stand as an independently reliable and efficient system with practical application. A theory IMO has to be designed in an elegant and unambiguous manner that makes it easy for the motivated seeker to understand.

The Enneagram (tritype) theory suffers from a lack of consistency in that every test or  quiz online yields different results each time. These are not even results close to one another, they are wildly off and different. Given that this tests for behavioral motivation, there is no way to assess that the subject answered with a neutral frame of mind, despite their very best efforts to stay objective. Adding to this colossal pile of confusion is the fact that the Enneagram in some ways is like an invincible many headed sea serpent.  There are conflicting views, types applied with instinctual variants, phobic and counter phobic manifestations of a particular type, type fixes, and lots more… There have been times when I had to put the book away or shut my laptop down because my head actually hurt from trying to fit the pieces together in a coherent structure. Since it speaks of behavioural motivations, I think it hardly fair to limit the motivation behind the behaviour of a human being to just three aspects. This theory tries to etch out a person, creating freeze frame allowances only for the past and the present but without laying out a map for the future development of the individual. Besides, any time a supposedly scientific or even psychological theory mentions the word Holy, my skepticism just increases. Holy things have their place, and this might not be it. I may be speaking from a point of limited understanding here but if so, feel free to correct me on it.

Another explanation for why I grapple with this might be that I have a blind spot in how I perceive my Self. For unless I know myself, how can I see myself? But who am I? I am who I was, who I am and who I will be. I am also who I am not. Our cells are regenerating rapidly every single day, that we can roughly say that you are an entirely new you, every seven years. When such is the case, I think Oscar Wilde was right in saying “To define is to limit”.

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Post-midnight ramblings

Am I child like because I believe in the magic of books like Harry Potter? Or took the Sorting on Pottermore somewhat seriously? Or the Patronus quiz(zes)? Are adults not allowed to want an escape hatch? A wonderful, fantasy land where good people triumph over more often than not bureaucracy, red tapism, sexism, nepotism and sometimes of course, downright evil? Or even a world, where the truth still prevails? Of course these are subtly woven into plots, and at other times, these themes are in-your-face. This isn’t exactly a Harry Potter appreciation post. I don’t know what this is. Post midnight ramblings, I guess. The day draws to a close, words jump and dance seductively before my eyes. They are keeping me from what I should be doing. Ideally. And yet here I am. I digress. What I want to say is, Harry Potter is so much more than a series of a fantasy world to me. I am not waiting for my Hogwarts letter. I am not waiting for any wizened old people to come and tell me I am special, and take me along on a grand, life changing adventure. How grand it would be, if that were the case but no. “Adults” swallow the reality of their existence. Therefore, shouldn’t I? All we do is to try and make things tolerable. We paint them with shades of drama, humour, escapism, even draping around ourselves tightly the satin folds of faith just to be able to not open our eyes to what states us in the face. To me, identifying as a Gryffindor itself is like a label that enables me. It is the over arching themes of these books that make them so popular. It seems open to interpretation, and that’s why every person loves it. Nobody reads the same book. Not really. Gryffindor, case in point gives me the courage to be emotionally open or vulnerable, go stand up for someone (or even myself) in small, probably unnoticed ways because these acts take courage too. It is not always all fireworks a-poppin’, all guns blazin’ and diving head first into danger. Sometimes, the courageous task can be something as simple and painful as swallowing one’s pride and admitting fault or saying sorry. Or telling someone you love them. Those words can be rusty and taste foreign on your lips if you haven’t said it in a while. Not that words mean anything, if they aren’t backed up by action. Even these could mean nothing. Words. They keep getting added to the dictionary every year. Like twerk. An unfortunate development. Then there are words like courage, kindness, honesty, empathy. Success, power, money, drive, motivation. Somewhere these two paths have to converge. May be a rainbow bridge connects these two. And I am that seeker. Eternally seeking that timeless rainbow bridge that connects these two, so that somewhere in the heart of all these I can make a place to call my own. Home.
But what is home? Is it a place to kick back and unwind? Is it something to come back to? Is it a place? Is it a person? Is it a people? The arms of a lover, or the cajoling of a mother? Where is home, in the vast expanse of this timeless, limitless universe any way? Is life a testament to the defiance of the human spirit in the face of mediocrity? An attempt to transcend the basal nature of the human race, and evolve into something else entirely? Is it an endless cycle of permits and licenses, from birth till that last breath. Whatever it is, the answer has to wait till tomorrow. My thoughts start to wander, even as the eyelids start to grow heavier. I must go now.

As I look for the perfect way to close this post, the irony of that strikes me. There isn’t a perfect closing. Not always. So here it is. The ending. The search for answers however continues…

When the veneer falls…

So many winters
We have endured
But we must go now.
We have worn our welcome.
Time to go! Shush! Look!
Those wooden faces contort
In delight
Free to express themselves
At last.
Their true natures revealed
It sickens us.
We must flee their wrath
Or become their prey.
Your cold hearts,
No prayer will melt
Nor words can move.
Your cheeks of porcelain,
Don’t crack when tears are shed.
Too long it’s been this way
But remember this
We only place lilies upon the dead.

The Window and the Great White Bird

I looked through the shimmering glass window. I saw her ornate writing desk, half opened like someone had gone through it looking for something. A lot of things I remembered placing there were missing. A few journals, I think. There were a few loose sheafs of paper. I recognised her handwriting. Those were my words, in a different time. The Sun was setting in the distance, I looked to my right side. The bed so perfectly made. Mine. But it wouldn’t be slept in, it had not been. For a long time. Briefly I considered just that. I sat there and soaked in the room. My one and only chance to see it. This wasn’t my time. I had to go back after all.
I closed my eyes. I remembered. She walked around, she seemed restless. She had never been more alone, but she had also never felt more free as she looked at the elephant that seemed to have materialised before her. The elephant didn’t seem afraid of her, she felt calm looking at it. She walked towards it. It sat down, so did she. She stroked it gently. Murmured words of comfort, and also relaying her predicament. How strange, she thought… That a creature she had only encountered a while ago should make her feel so safe, as though everything was going to be just fine. She sat down, her back resting against the elephant and closed her eyes. And waited. I felt the hours pass by. I knew what was coming. Sure enough, there appeared a white bird in the sky, the wings flapping majestically. The bird rose up towards the Sun, as though to devour it. There was a great explosion of light, like a canopy of shimmering fragments of diamonds enveloping the entire forest they were in. She rose, she was free.
She had arrived at the beach. She watched as the waters lapped at her feet gently, an ever present cool breeze playing with her curls, casting them about hither and thither. She opened her arms wide and received all of it, smiling serenely.
It was at once, the most peaceful and the most heartbreaking thing I had ever seen. I wanted to see no more, I opened my eyes. My eyes flooded with joy and envy, I know not if those tears running down my cheeks were mine or hers. It does not matter.

Here I am. Once again. Till the great white bird comes, I bid you all adieu!

Come with Me

Come, Come into my world

Take my hand and walk with me

I will show you how the lights sparkle

I will show you where the shadows fall

 

See the fields rippling with colour

See the splashes of black and white

See the greys, and the hopeful greens

And, don’t forget my sepia toned dreams

 

It is strange, tricky and treacherous

But hold my hand, and stand still

For the demons lurk awhile

Waiting to grab their fill.

 

Let’s free the barriers,

Keep the demons at bay!

Our fingers dance along nimbly

A familiar melody once again plays.

And everything falls back into place.

By:

MVK.