In which we look below the surface and discover a veritable wonderland
STRANGERS TO OURSELVES
=Hidden Strings.= A collie dog lies on the hearthrug. A small boy with mischievous intent ties a fine thread to a bone, hides himself behind a chair, and pulls the bone slowly across the floor. The dog is thrown into a fit of terror because he does not know about the hidden string.
A Chinese in the early days of San Francisco stands spell-bound at the sight of a cable car. “No pushee. No pullee. Go allee samee like hellee!” He does not know about the hidden string.
A woman of refinement and culture thinks a thought that horrifies her sensitive soul. It is entirely out of keeping with her character as she knows it. In her misunderstanding she considers it wicked and thrusts it from her, wondering how it ever could have been hers. She does not know about the hidden string.
In the last two chapters we thought together about some of these strings, examining the fibers of which they are made and learning in what directions they pull. We found them to be more powerful than we should have supposed, more insistent and less visible. We found that instinctive desire is the string, the cable that energizes our every act, but that our desires are neither single nor simple, and are but rarely on the surface. Many of us live with them a long time, feeling the tug, but not recognizing the string.
=There’s a Reason.= We take our thoughts and feelings and actions for granted, without stopping very often to wonder where they come from. But there is always a reason. When the law of cause and effect reaches the doorsill of our minds, it does not stop short to give way to the law of chance. We wake up in the morning with a certain thought on top. We say it “just happens.” But nothing ever just happens. No thought that ever comes into our heads has been without its history,—its ancestors and its determining causes. But what about dreams? They, at least, you say, have no connections, no past and no future, only a weird, fantastic present. Strange to say, dreams have been found to be as closely related to our real selves, as interwoven with the warp and woof of our lives as are any of our waking thoughts. Even dreams have a reason.
We find ourselves holding certain beliefs and prejudices, interested in certain things and indifferent to others, liking some foods, some colors and disliking others. Search our minds as we will, we find no clue to many of these inner trends. Why?
The answer is simple. The cause is hidden below the surface. If we try to explain ourselves on the basis of the open-to-inspection part of our minds, we must come to the conclusion that we are queer creatures indeed. Only by assuming that there is more to us than we know, can we find any rational basis for the way we think and feel and act.