“We’ll name him Jason,” B told me, referring to the gremlin inside of me that was making me ill tempered and depressed.
I assure you now, as I did her then, that I never once believe I am Jason, but I do feel him inside of me. Some theories suggest that angels and devils are not able to actually touch humans, to actually interfere, but they can disguise themselves, make suggestions, convince you, and use their words to get you to do what they want you to do.
Interestingly enough, I’m reading The Voice of Knowledge by Don Miguel Ruiz. His main theory is that in each of our heads lives a voice, the voice of knowledge, which is lies. Inherently, knowledge is not Truth. Truth exists beyond knowledge, because with knowledge comes belief, and his example is that the ancient Romans believed in a polytheism, which today we simply see as myth, yet they believed it to their very core. Just because something is believed does not make it true.
In this same way, that voice inside us takes in the information we receive and distorts it, like seeing the glass as half empty or half full- as if they weren’t one in the same and as if to proclaim that what really isn’t true is that both are Truth simultaneously, to be aware that you neither have a full glass nor anything in there at all.
Reading this book is timely with what I’m experiencing in life right now. As Winter settles in and I stay inside more, I don’t handle the cold well and I’m very dependent on sunlight, which there is very little of this time of year. When I don’t get outside, don’t exercise like I ought to, and at this point being very poor, not really living anywhere, and not sure of my future- this gremlin, this voice in my head, gains footing.
I need direction when I’m in this state. Jason is very good at making up stories to help direct me. We talk often, although it’s mostly me listening to him. He weaves brilliant tales of woe, deceit, and frailty. The more I nod my head to him, the more he speaks. And my challenging trait is that I’m a very good listener. I have helped countless people through their struggles in life by fully listening, but have a hard time helping myself through the same process. It’s something I love to do, listening, so I listen to Jason and he somehow tells me that I’m not good enough. He strips me of decision-making.
Jason has lived inside my head since I was a young boy, not long after I was born, but back then I didn’t listen so well. I lived with my senses, my heart, and my intuition. I followed my basic needs, knowing so little about the world that everything coming to me was profound. As I aged, however, Jason found ways to gain power. In middle school he told me I wasn’t handsome enough. He told me I wasn’t smart enough, that I was asthmatic and plump and not athletic. In high school he told me that I couldn’t talk to the opposite sex with normal conversation, that I could only get them to laugh by being gross and inappropriate, never on their level, but a subordinate plaything. In college he told me I would never make it as a writer. He told me that I didn’t belong anywhere, and that my friends would leave me and I’d be alone. After college he told me I’d never get a job, never make money, and that I’d never move out of my parents’ house.
He’s been talking to me lately about my choices so far. I’m in love and he’s telling me I’m too dark to hold onto her; she’ll leave because I brood. He’s been telling me lately to stay in my head and think my way through my situations, that feeling through them is pointless.
The world today, he tells me, doesn’t need anybody using its heart and soul to move forward. The way now is in computers and logic, skills I don’t possess naturally. My skills have no place in the modern world. I am so grateful B named him. Now I can talk to him directly. All this time he’s been so close to me and still been a stranger. Now I can call back to him using his name.
The trouble with Jason is that we’ve been together so long that parts of me do trust him. He’s been there in the best and worst of times. He’s seen my successes and what he’d call “failures.” B had never seen him come out before, but lately she’s met him and she doesn’t like him at all. “That’s not you,” she says.
“No, it’s not,” I say, “but he’s very convincing, isn’t he?”
Going back to The Voice of Knowledge, what makes it an interesting piece is that a Reiki master leant me the book after my first session. “I was looking for books for you,” Katherine explained, “and this one almost jumped out at me. I don’t know what you’ll get out of it, but here you go.” She has no idea yet how perfect a match the book is for me!
I have been into stories as long as I can remember. Telling stories and hearing them have been what drives me for ages. I have always wanted to be a writer. Stories are what we tell in therapy to understand the world better. Miguel Luiz suggests that stories all falsities. Stories must come from experience and become distorted by perception before they are related to others. Even a dream we have; in the morning we have to pull at memory to reconstruct it, find the words we know to convey it to a friend, and then we attempt to dissect its metaphor. Even dreams, which are not real, become less real as we tell them out as stories.
As a psychologist and writer, this conflicts with my initial use of stories (a method of unveiling Truth), and yet it makes so much sense when I’m lying in bed listening to Jason scream at me. Jason is an amazing storyteller. Because he lives within me we experience the same things each day. The difference is that the real me, the true I, experiences life as it actually is. My life happening at one second per second is Truth. Yet Jason knows my weak points. He knows my fears, which psychologists would say come from neuroses developed from early stages of development and at the expense of traumatic experiences later on. Jason, however, is like those theoretical devils: He can’t actually push my buttons. He cannot pull my levers. He can’t actually make me walk, talk, swing my arms, or do back flips. Jason is confined to a voice, so he manipulates through stories.
Do you ever watch a movie that inspires you to go exercise, vacation, cook a great meal, or something else that’s inspiring? Do you ever hear a speech that sparks you to step back and evaluate your life? Stories are powerful! So is music, something we spend a lot of our time listening to. Music is often stories, too. Music takes us to the club, grinding and drinking heavily. Music takes us to a love shack. Music takes us to milkshakes in the yard.
Many cultures much older than the American one I grew up in more inseparably connect music with dance, story with music. To them, song is story, story is dance, and dance is life. In those powerful moments, people are moving and singing as if possessed, and they are, by another voice, one that maybe isn’t Jason, but is just as adept at storytelling.
How could Jason, who experiences life at the same rate that I do, possibly get it all wrong? How could he tell me lies if we’re doing the same thing? Well, I am human, and therefore something of this Earth, and therefore I am Ying and Yang. I am darkness and light, being and doing. I am the four elements, with fire in my soul, water in my body, earth in my actions, and wind to make me move and speak. As Ying and Yang I must work towards balance.
Balance, however, is not something gained and sustained. A gymnast will warn you that balance is a game of moving the intricate muscles and bones in our bodies to not so much stay upright, but to not fall over. My four-year-old niece, a beginner gymnast, will tell you that to practice balance you need assistance from people older, wiser, and more practiced than you. Your first walk on the beam must come with holding someone’s hand. In time your muscles and bones learn to work together with the beam and you can not fall off on your own. The intention of the helping hand is not to have you stand upright and move quickly down the beam, (here a delicious metaphor for life), but to simply not fall off. Balance is not gained and held onto. Balance is continuous.
We will never achieve balance. We can only achieve greater ability to not fall off.
Jason exists because without him I am nothing but Light. I am pure Truth. That is the nature of Being. Doesn’t the Bible say we are made in God’s image? How do we often perceive God? Light. All-encompassing. Omnipotent. So we would be, but existence requires balance- never obtained but constantly attempted- so we beings of pure Light must therefore have a dark side. Thus, I got Jason.
Some people balance with their gremlins better, but work, stress, lack of play, lack of sunlight, too much sitting, and more than anything too much thinking, takes us from our presence and sends us into our heads, where the gremlins spend their time. Remember, Jason can’t actually move me about in the world, so living in my arm or leg is wasted time for him. In my head he has access to my dreams, nightmares, hopes, fears, and memories. It’s a library of Me and he read up well.
I’m not well grounded. I live in my head because I’m a writer and I have to visit the library for ideas on characters and scenery. When I’m up there I visit with Jason and we naturally get to converse. Jason may say something like, “Oh, I was just looking at when you dropped out of college because you missed home and your girlfriend broke up with you. When you quit your job this past summer, I think it was the same thing. You like to run from things that aren’t perfect, don’t you?”
Of course, this isn’t true one bit, but Jason and I grew up together and I’m a great listener, so I listen and nod my head.
Other people are better grounded. They actually live in their feet, which is where a powerful chakra exists. Through sports, yoga, meditation, and sometimes because they aren’t writers or philosophers and don’t need to visit their brains so much, they stay grounded. Gremlins won’t be down there because it’s a waste of time, so there are fewer conversations. When I am grounded, Jason may shout down to me to come up and visit, but it’s down the long hallway of my Being, my presence here and now, and it reaches me as a whisper. I can ignore a whisper much easier than a scream right at eye level.
“I don’t want to make light of the situation,” B told me; “you know, calling him Jason. I just want to name it so I can understand it better.”
“That’s perfect,” I tell her. “Make Light of it because light makes the darkness less intense.” Jason will always live in me because the Universal Quest for Balance, but what I can learn to do is give Jason space. He can exist and shout and scream and be the Other side of me. That doesn’t mean I have to listen, nor do I have to visit with him. On days when I’ve played outside and eaten well and have very little stress, I can go to the library and get what I need and ignore Jason almost completely.
B named Jason because I’ve been feeling crushed by life. I lost my purpose. Like I said, it’s winter. I don’t have a job and am not sure I’ll get one I believe in. I don’t have a lot of money. This is fuel for Jason. He taps into my past and reminds me that I had a well-paying job and an apartment. He tells me that my car used to be newer and not need so many repairs. I used to afford therapy. I used to live near friends I could decompress with after a hard day. He tells me about my future, too. He tells me I’ll probably always be broke. I’ll never afford a house, a new car, and then he gets tricky with his words and tells me my parents are disappointed in me. He tells me I made mistakes that will lead me nowhere.
“Jason,” I explain, “I’m actually ok. My family is good to me. I have a lot of love and social support. I’ve had a lot of free time to practice grounding myself, to meditate, write, and seek out my True purpose. I’ve been down before and come up again. I don’t see how this is different than last time, really.”
Jason hates this response. Why would he want me using my time to find more Light, to stay grounded, to be productive? When I’m that Way I make him small and nearly powerless.
Some days Jason is winning and I feel sick in heart and body. Those days are scary for my family, for B, and for me. Other days I live in the present, like this morning, when I’m writing this to you, and despite not fitting all the perceived requirements for a Good Life I’m doing exceptionally well.
Resilience is the ability to live in the present. Depression is the opposite, living in the past or the future. Lack of resilience stretches you to places in Time you’ll never actually get to. It’s very unproductive and no fun at all.
I had to write this to you today. Tomorrow, Jason might persuade me to think negatively and this entire article would have come out differently. I’m sure you all have a gremlin. Name them. Know where they live and what they often say to you. More importantly, come to understand your loved ones’ gremlins and name them. Make Light of the situation. Joke about it. Laugh it off. Be fun and present. Make the gremlins quiet. We need to step away from our desks and jobs, to cook more and garden more, to ground ourselves both in body and spirit. If you catch me on an off day, just say, “Shut up, Jason. Let him go. He’s exactly where he should be, doing exactly what he should be doing, and you are nothing without his Light.”