The analytical mind is quite curious. It sets aside emotion and observes objectively that which presents itself before us. The keener the observation, the less emotional it is. The more emotional, the less accurate the assessment. Yet both these dispositions, emotional and analytical, are needed for a wholesome life.
From personal experience, and my observations of those that I’ve engaged with over the years, it seems that the most analytical are the ones that had the least wholesome upbringing. They were typically the ones that were misunderstood, emotionally isolated, or worse. They generally have unpleasant stories to tell, usually with a snigger and a laugh, as they recount their days of strife at the hands of family members or neighbourhood bullies with a strong cynical undertone. They’re the scarred beauties that have become detached, because attachment is either unfamiliar or holds no appeal.
In contemplating this scenario, I was initially inclined to believe that the opposing tale must be one of emotional cocooning. To be smothered with love and understanding, while nurturing a healthy, if not over indulgent self-esteem, they’re raised by parents who always made time for their quirks and pains, while leading a moderately successful life of measured luxury and homely warmth. Sounds almost idyllic, if not fairy tale-like. But it does happen, so I know it’s a reality, even though it may not be a reality that I, or others like me, can relate to.
As my mind wandered through this meandering path the one word that kept whispering in the back of my cynical mind was ‘sheltered’. The more I considered their good fortune, the more I found myself ambivalently envious of their blessings, while equally spurning their sense of entitled protection. It’s a reality that they depend on because it is the frame of reference within which they were raised. My frame of reference is very different though, and if it weren’t for the sobering moments of my life, I would have been hell bent on believing that they were the enemy. The ones that had it easy while judging the rest of us, while we made it through life the hard way, only to be placed second best to their privileged upbringing.
But the reality is very different from such a jaundiced view of the differences we share. The shelter they find in the emotional wholesomeness with which they were raised contributes to the compassion that we desperately need in this world. The rest of us, the analytical ones, use that emotional deficit to clearly articulate the problem statements that are so elusive when looking at the world through rose-coloured spectacles. However, if my personal experiences are anything to go by, compassion fatigue sets in easily with those that see the painful cycles repeating themselves, and having the analytical wit to most often accurately pre-empt a distasteful outcome. At times like those, it’s the emotionally grounded beings that see reason to drag us out of despair and continue to fight the good fight.
But the truth is closer to the reality that both are equally sheltered. Both enjoy the familiarity of their frame of reference that shelters them from the reality of the other. To the emotionally obese, living a cold and detached existence is impossible to contemplate, while the analytical sees the pointless emotional indulgences and sneers at the waste of productive time spent molly-coddling (I hate that phrase!) those that appear too fragile to function without a hug. It’s a despicable envy on both parts that adds beautifully intricate, yet entertaining hues to the panorama of life.
Unfortunately, there are too many that fail to see what shelters them, and in so doing, find sufficient reason to despise the rest that appear to be unfairly privileged relative to their sombre upbringing. At some point, the choice to accept or deny our own privilege becomes ours, and ours alone. Life is cliched like that. But we’re often so intent on proving that we’re not as common as everyone else, that we exclude ourselves from the very same collective that we belong to, while yearning for acceptance.