But prevalent. No wonder we have suicides, divorces, mental illnesses, and violence. No wonder that most people I see in my consulting room confess that they are miserable. No wonder one ideal that keeps surfacing in the fantasies of people is either to escape to the country and get away from it all, or to work even harder so as to arrive at the supreme goal of being able to sit back, play golf, and "manage their wealth." Incredible that this replaces baseball as the national pastime, "managing wealth." The infrastructures crumble, habitats are destroyed, neighborhoods are ravaged, schools lack resources, religious wars threaten civilization, and we "manage our wealth." Incredible!
But, wait, this is not about that madness. In fact, this blog is about something entirely different. This blog is about "vacation," in particular, the vacation of reason. Why this topic? Because the people I counsel are notably physically exhausted; more than anything, they are mentally exhausted. They have exhausted their "critical reasoning."
Think about it. Remember that vacation you enjoyed so much, or the one you wanted to enjoy but never gave yourself the opportunity to go for it? I am talking about that time at the beach: a sunny day, a nice shady umbrella, a soft breeze, no worries about the work back home, perhaps some easy beach music in the background, the sound of surf, and -- here it comes -- that novel you waited to read! It may not have been one of the world's great classics of memorable literature, but it captured your attention. You could hardly put it down; when you did finish it, you felt refreshed, inspired, renewed in some way. You just enjoyed a mental vacation! Now you can get back to the grind. Somehow you have found your old energy, your old zip. You see the old stuff in new ways with new solutions, and exciting outcomes. Or, you may throw it all aside and find the courage, ways, and means to do what you always have wanted to do.
My friend, a college professor who works very hard preparing for his classes, lecturing, researching, grading papers, counseling students, and tending to administrative duties -- given all this, he never allows himself to read fiction. A waste of time! Or, at best, an indulgence that would interrupt his path toward full professorship! But then he peeped inside the first volume of the Harry Potter eight-volume set and has not been able to stop. He is now finishing volume eight, The Rise of the Dark Prince, and feels "somehow refreshed." Incredible!
But not. Actually, he is using another kind of reason. In his daily work my friend employs his critical reason; but in this reading of fiction he follows the lead of another kind of reason, one I call heart-reason.
I am indebted, in part to Blaise Pascal, of course, who expressed it best like this:
The heart has reasons which reason knows nothing of... .
We know the truth not only by the reason but by the heart.
(See his Thoughts, #423)
This is not a reasoning of sentimentality, but a form of reason that is not boxed-in by critical analysis, although it is yet rational. The heart's "reason" is not commandeered by rationalism but rather by a rational process of valuing (as Jung might describe in his typological discussion of "feeling").
And this reason of the heart is influenced by the promptings of the unconscious. Listen to Jung:
As a matter of fact, day after day we live far beyond the bounds
of our consciousness; without our knowledge, the life of the
unconscious is also going on within us. The more the critical reason
dominates, the more impoverished life becomes; but the more of
the unconscious, and the more of myth we are capable of making
conscious, the more of life we integrate. Overvalued reason has
this in common with political absolutism: under its dominion the
individual is pauperized. (Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 302)
So, yes, take your critical reason on vacation. But let it snooze in the sun while your heart frolics in the surf -- and in the novel that has been calling out to you for some time now.
Enjoy! It's OK.