Speed Whippet and Fear of Progress, aka FOP!

After the recent introduction of Speed Whippet, I thought I’d bring him in to talk to the monster who gets hysterical whenever I try to have a regular spiritual practice, or any kind of advanced self-knowledge-y practice like Shiva Nata or keeping a dream journal. I reckoned this monster was scared of me making progress, and christened him Fear of Progress aka FOP. So obviously he appeared as an eighteenth-century glamour boy in a powdered periwig and lots of ruffles.

princepoppycock

Speed Whippet’s technique this time was to stick very closely to the big questions of NVC: what are you observing, feeling, needing, and requesting? The result wasn’t quite as speedy as last time, but this was a major issue!

FOP: ALACK ALACK ALACK (fans self hysterically)

Speed Whippet: What are you observing?

FOP: FIE FIE FIE

Speed Whippet: You’re observing something you really don’t like, huh?

FOP: (calming down slightly) Well, obviously! I’m a fop. I like to keep things exquisitely superficial.

Speed Whippet: She’s going too deep for you?

FOP: Any depth is too deep for me. I am all surface and no soul. A bubble of nothing in a froth of lace.

Speed Whippet: Poetic! So how do you feel about her getting into all this deep soul stuff?

FOP: La, sir, I am undone!

Speed Whippet: You’re terrified?

FOP: Yes!

Speed Whippet: What do you need?

FOP: I need her to stay on the surface! Where it’s all fluffy and pretty!

Speed Whippet: You need to know she’ll be safe from the pain of self-knowledge?

FOP: How unutterably drab and serious you make it sound.

Speed Whippet: And you need to know she’ll still have playfulness and colour in her life?

FOP: You talk as if I were going to let this happen. (draws rapier with a flourish) Never! I shall never let it happen!

Speed Whippet: Okay, so you need TOTAL CERTAINTY that she’ll be safe from the pain of self-knowledge no matter what.

FOP: Not only that!

Speed Whippet: What else?

FOP: I don’t know. I don’t know! How can I even talk about such nonsense? I don’t understand it, I’m just a beautiful fairy with no soul!

Speed Whippet: You don’t understand the spiritual stuff?

FOP: Exactly!

Speed Whippet: So you need to understand what’s going on for her?

FOP: Yes, otherwise how can I protect her? I may look delicate but I’m terrific in a duel. Aha! (flourishes rapier)

Speed Whippet: Okay, so! You’re observing that she’s getting into deep spiritual introspective stuff, and you’re feeling terrified because you need to know she’s safe from pain, and in order to know she’s safe you need to understand this stuff. Which you don’t.

FOP: I don’t! I don’t even know what it is! It’s like asking a dog what’s the problem with going to church!

Speed Whippet: I’m a dog!

FOP: Well, what’s the problem with going to church?

Speed Whippet: …Oh. You get left outside.

FOP: Yes! Outside is all I am! I will always be outside! Don’t let her go inside and leave me here with nobody to pay attention to me!

Speed Whippet: Oh. Oh. Oh. Okay. Wow. You’re feeling terrified because you need attention.

FOP: Do you think I get dressed up like this every morning for my own amusement?

Speed Whippet: Okay, I’m going to ask you to notice something. You spent all morning making her so stuck and terrified that she was literally hyperventilating about keeping a dream journal, and what’s the result?

FOP: Success!

Speed Whippet: What’s happening right now?

FOP: I’m talking to you.

Speed Whippet: And what does that mean she’s doing?

FOP: Oh! Introspection! I shall swoon! (falls on a chaise longue)

Speed Whippet: So your attempt to protect her from introspection has produced introspection.

FOP: Are you accusing me of being one of those monsters? I refuse to be lumped in with all those dirty beasts. Ugh! (handkerchief to nose)

Speed Whippet: She’s spending more time introspecting about why she can’t introspect than she would if you just let her introspect!

FOP: Egad! But at least I’m keeping her on a lower level. At least she’s not making progress.

Speed Whippet: She is making progress. Whatever blocks you throw up, she’s finding a way round them. It’s just taking her longer and costing her more effort and pain, which I think is another thing you wanted to protect her from.

FOP: GAAAAAAAAAAH!

Speed Whippet: Now I know you’re really upset. You’ve stopped using Restoration comedy exclamations.

FOP: STAP MY VITALS!

Speed Whippet: Okay, nearly.

FOP: What do I do?

Speed Whippet: What would you like to do? What are you requesting?

FOP: Well, I can’t possibly be the kind of – ugh! – ‘monster’ who’s the opposite of what they appear to be. I can’t possibly be enthused about all this soul stuff. I can’t possibly be pro progress. Although, thinking about it – I am a creature of fashion, you know, the latest mode, flitting like a butterfly from one thing to the next – and of course, I always think whatever I leave behind is so last Tuesday, and whatever is now is so utterly now. I love change and newness! It’s just that it has to be meaningless.

Speed Whippet: Why?

FOP: Because I exist to distract, and if something’s meaningful it isn’t a distraction, is it? It’s something you distract from.

Speed Whippet: Because it might be painful?

FOP: Yes.

Speed Whippet: So we’re back to your need to protect her from pain. The trouble is, distracting her from everything meaningful isn’t really protecting her. The pain’s still there. It’s still hurting. Just on a subconscious level where she can’t understand it or fix it. It’s like if someone needs surgery, sure it’s painful and scary but it doesn’t make sense to protect them from it, because then they’ll never get better!

FOP: So I really am just a big useless lump of frippery and I should just go away.

Speed Whippet: No!

FOP: How do you know?

Speed Whippet: Because with these talks, if it’s not happy it’s not the ending. What would you really, really like for her, if you could request anything?

FOP: (crying) Not to need to avoid all the time because there wouldn’t BE any pain to avoid! Gad’s teeth, my makeup is running…

Speed Whippet: That’s a great request! And it sounds like you’d like to help her with that. You know, dealing with her pain so she doesn’t need to avoid it.

FOP: Yes, but how when I don’t have any soul?

Speed Whippet: I never asked why you think you don’t have a soul.

FOP: I don’t know.

Speed Whippet: What is it in you that gives you so much compassion for her pain?

FOP: Well, I’m part of her. So – oh. She has a soul. So it’s not that I don’t have one, it’s that I’ve been disconnected from her soul. I’ve always had access to it, but I’ve been refusing it. Wait… (He twirls around elegantly, and his costume flutters around him in a cloud of lace, shifting, settling again into something different… a beautiful pierrot in white ruffles.) A new image! Do you like it?

ppg

Speed Whippet: I love it!

FOP: Pierrot of the moon, the yearning soul… see, now I can support her on her quest, I can go to the depths of the sky with her, I can go deep inside and still be exquisitely pretty on the outside! She can surround herself with images of me, and I’ll remind her to be always longing and dreaming and looking to the stars… And she’ll certainly pay me attention, I mean, look at me! (Holds out his arms, enraptured by his own loveliness.) When I told you I had no soul, you should have told me that I adore beauty! Beauty is truth, truth beauty, how can you love beauty without a soul…

(A silver tear runs down his cheek, the transformation complete.)

LS09 Pierrot

Sad Rage Basset

Sad Rage Basset is sad! And full of rage!

Basset Hound Zazzle card
Card Image from Zazzle

Recently I’ve been filled with rage at doing anything at all that wasn’t exactly what I felt like doing in that moment. This rage attached itself to my current obsession with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I just wanted to throw off all responsibility and run away to the stars, or failing that, get very drunk.

I DEFINITELY needed one or two members of my headcast to act as negotiators on this one. Mr. H is my go-to guy for dealing with fierce, angry monsters, and also the one who’s best at getting through to me when I’m in a horrible mood, for reasons I have yet to understand. So this happened.

Mr. H: So, we’re gonna talk to some rage. That’s cool (cracks knuckles) I’m good at talking to rage. Hiiiii, rage!

(A very large and dismal basset-hound-thing appears)

Sad Rage Basset: (slumps on ground) …Bleurgh. I’m not going to give you the satisfaction.

Mr. H: You’re huh?

Sad Rage Basset: You want me to come in here all huge and screaming so you can amusingly defy me. I’m not going to give you the satisfaction.

Mr. H: (smiles) That’s okay. This isn’t really about me getting to do my comedy turn. This is about finding out what makes you tick.

Sad Rage Basset: I don’t tick. I’m too angry to tick. I – what’s a much angrier noise than tick?

Mr. H: (mad eyes) GrrRRrrRrrrrr!

Sad Rage Basset: (disarmed, almost-laughter turning into almost-tears) Oh God everything sucks.

Mr. H: (sitting down next to Sad Rage Basset on the ground) Wanna tell me about it?

Sad Rage Basset: (plonks its head on his lap) Okay. But you won’t be able to fix it.

Mr. H: You know what’s funny? You sound a bit like Marvin. I mean, I was expecting a bit of Ford here. All the wanderlust and wanting to just get drunk and goof off with no responsibilities. But what I’m hearing sounds more like a depressed robot.

Sad Rage Basset: Depressed definitely. Robot, kind of what I’m fighting. I mean, not that I’m fighting robots -

Mr. H: That would be cool! I’d pay money to see a giant basset hound fight robots!

Sad Rage Basset: (rolls a bassety eye upwards at him) I mean that I’m fighting robotification. And I’m depressed because it seems like such a pointless fight.

Mr. H: So -  it seems it’s inevitable that Eve must become a robot?

Sad Rage Basset: Not LITERALLY! But, aargh!! It’s impossible for her to do just what she wants! I mean, it’s POSSIBLE, but at too much cost! I need this to be taken seriously!

Mr. H: I always take you guys seriously. It’s myself I don’t. (smiles)

Sad Rage Basset: …Not sure if serious.

Mr. H: …Are you trying to get me to -

Sad Rage Basset: I AM TRYING TO GET YOU TO REASSURE ME THAT YOU’LL TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY. Stop looking like that. WHY AM I STILL SEEING MISCHIEF IN YOUR EYES. (slumps again) Why do I get the feeling there’s an important point here that I’m not quite getting?

Mr. H: (pets basset ears) Everything is serious. Everything is a joke. Believe me, you’re talking to a man who’s learned this in some very… weird… ways.

Sad Rage Basset: …okay. I’ll tell you. Ugh, I still don’t wanna tell you. I’ll tell you. The problem is that Eve is stuck between a… rock and a hard place. She has all these wonderful things she wants to achieve, but they all involve forcing and doing things she doesn’t wanna do. Even basic survival involves some of that. Even beggars have to do that, you think they want to get up and beg every morning? There’s basically no hope. And I’m like Antigone, I continue to say No, No, No long after there’s no hope and no reason.

Mr. H: Wow, what a self-aware and literate monster.

Sad Rage Basset: (thumps tail weakly)

Mr. H: What was it Antigone said – ‘I don’t want to understand. That’s all right for you. I’m not here to understand, I’m here to say No and to die.’ Or something like that.

Sad Rage Basset: I’m here to say No and – oh.

Mr. H: What?

Sad Rage Basset: I refuse to let Eve be forced. I refuse to let her force herself. No matter what. I refuse, I refuse, I refuse. And the only way, really – the only way a human being can escape forcing is to get off the planet. That’s what all that wanderlust for the stars is about. It’s not about space adventures. It’s about death.

Mr. H: You want Eve to die?

Sad Rage Basset: Not really. It’s just that I refuse to let her be forced, even at the cost of her life.

Mr. H: Being forced is a fate worse than death?

Sad Rage Basset: Akin. It’s akin to death. If one is forced, one might as well be dead. At least, if one is being forced every day with no realistic hope of it ever ending, one might as well be dead.

Mr. H: Oh. Ouch.

Sad Rage Basset: I think you ought to know I’m feeling very depressed.

Mr. H: I can see why!

Sad Rage Basset: (sighs)

Mr. H: You said earlier, ‘It’s possible, but at too much cost’. What did you mean by that?

Sad Rage Basset: That was something a friend said to her the other day. That sure, you COULD just piss off on a permanent drunken hitch-hike round the world, if you were prepared to face the cost, but the cost would be tremendous. That you’d lose friends and such. But actually, now I think about it that’s not relevant. In order to survive, even in a life like that, you would have to sometimes force yourself to do things you didn’t wanna do. Perhaps especially in a life like that. So close to desperation, so close to the bone. But there’s a certain appeal in that for me because if she was doing it for raw survival maybe it wouldn’t be such a drag.

Mr. H: Okay, so what you really want for her is for nothing to be a drag?

Sad Rage Basset: YES! I want her NEVER TO DO ANYTHING THAT ISN’T PLAY! But I don’t see how that’s possible because UGH UGH UGH!

Mr. H: Even though you’re quoting a book that says that very thing is possible, you don’t see how it’s possible?

Sad Rage Basset: Yes, because there’s always some forcing! Even if there’s not outright forcing, there’s always gentle-suggesting-hinting-nudging UGH UGH UGH! There’s always an expectation that the person will see sense and do the sensible thing. There’s always an expectation that you have to talk to yourself nice and sensibly to work that out. Which is in itself probably something you have to force yourself to do. It’s like a freedom that is no freedom because OF COURSE YOU WILL DO THE SENSIBLE FUCKING THING! Just, where is the darkness? Where is the craziness? Where is the doing things for NO FUCKING REASON? Why couldn’t she have died when she was three? (tearing up) She was so beautiful and so happy. She never needed a reason – (head on paws) Oh, crap. I was being really, really serious and I just accidentally quoted ‘Step in Time’.

Mr. H: (soft voice) Everything is serious. Everything is a joke. It’s okay.

Sad Rage Basset: I’ve never heard you be like this before.

Mr. H: It’s never come up before. Everything is serious, everything is a joke. I promise you. Even if you can’t understand it right now. I don’t even really understand it myself, I just know it in my bones by now. (Sad Rage Basset looks uneasy) Are you… Are you afraid of that? Are you needing seriousness to be over here and jokes to be over there?

Sad Rage Basset: I don’t know. Got a wall. (pause) I just need her to not be patronised! I don’t need stupid fake permission that’s just giving her the space to hang herself! I need her to have ACTUAL PERMISSION! And that includes permission to do the stupid, wrong, destructive thing! So yeah – I guess I need there to be right things and wrong things, you know – Batman and Joker things, right-sensible-grim-forcey-willpower things and wrong-mad-chaotic-Dionysiac-ecstasy things… because doing those wrong things is the only way Eve can have a moment of freedom. And if she doesn’t know it’s wrong, how does she know she’s free?

Mr. H: (long pause) Oh. I see. She needs to give herself actual permission to do absolutely anything. Because right now, she’s dividing stuff into ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ things and only giving herself actual, sincere permission to do the ‘right’ things. And then needing to do the ‘wrong’ things because she doesn’t have permission to.

Sad Rage Basset: Yeah, but I don’t see how that can change because she’s a loving person and has moral standards and she’s never going to think murder is as permissible as patting a dog.

Mr. H: It’s not that it’s not permissible. It’s that she doesn’t want to do it.

Sad Rage Basset: So wait, the feeling of ‘wrong’ is actually a feeling of ‘don’t wanna’? But I’ve somehow twisted it to where she does wanna​? This is challenging my brain.

Mr. H: I think you’ve read her natural reluctance to do un-loving things as being the same as some bossy parent or teacher telling her what to do. It’s totally different. But I still feel like there’s a piece of this puzzle we’re both missing. Hmmm. This is a very intellectual one! Maybe we need backup. Big Sister?

Big Sister: Oh, thanks for the compliment to my intellect! (to Sad Rage Basset) Hi. Okay, the backup is going to back up a step. You don’t think she can give herself permission to do the ‘wrong’ things because she is a loving person? So because she’s loving, she can’t give herself permission to do anything that’s not loving?

Sad Rage Basset: I guess everyone does things that aren’t loving sometimes, unless they’re Jesus.

Big Sister: Right. And if she gave herself permission to do those things, how would she be treating herself?

Sad Rage Basset: With… love. So wait, love really is the Hound of Heaven and you really can’t get away from it whichEVER way you twist it? (crying)

Big Sister: Mmm-hmm.

Sad Rage Basset: No, I can’t accept that! You can’t say that murder is okay because the murderer is being loving to themselves!

Big Sister: Murder is a huge tragedy. And even at the roots of murder is love. Even at the roots of hate is love. Somewhere in there is a scared child trying to protect itself. We run away from love so hard, and there literally is nowhere else to run.

Sad Rage Basset: (howls)

Big Sister: What you have is a choice to make love conscious. You know you said, ‘The feeling of ‘wrong’ is a feeling of don’t wanna, but I’ve somehow twisted that to where she does wanna?’

Sad Rage Basset: Yeah.

Big Sister: You need her to have absolute freedom, you believe having absolute freedom would be wrong, therefore you believe she can only have freedom by doing wrong. Therefore you label certain things as wrong – often things the love in her recoils from – and try to make her want to do them. You take the things she would least want to do and call them freedom.

Sad Rage Basset: No!!

Big Sister: It’s okay. The great thing is that like I said, it’s all love. She’s all love. You just need to give her a chance to make it conscious. And freedom is essential for that. If you want to talk right and wrong, absolute freedom is right.

Sad Rage Basset: Really?

Big Sister: Absolutely. (to Mr. H) Back me up here?

Mr. H: Yeah, I agree. And it’s great that you’re trying to help her find freedom. Just you’re doing it by setting up categories of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ things – in other words, things for which there is permission and things for which there isn’t. In other words, your attempt to give her permission -

Sad Rage Basset: – is taking permission away! Crap, I’m one of those monsters?

Mr. H: Yeah, I’m sorry. You’ve set up all these things as ‘forbidden temptations’ so she can taste freedom by giving in to them. And they’re actually not what she wants. She wants a way more positive life than that. And she’s trying to go after the things she really wants with these ‘forbidden temptations’ dragging on her heels, making it hard, and the result is -

Sad Rage Basset: – forcing! NOOOOOOOOO! (howls)

Mr. H: I’m sorry. (pets) I’m sorry, pup. It’s okay. You can change this.

Sad Rage Basset: How? Isn’t it TOO STUPID LATE?

Mr. H: Never. (smiles) You’ve read your NVC book, haven’t you? Knock off the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Remind her that those words are static generalisations and reality is complex and always changing. And remind her that she’s not only free when she’s getting drunk and goofing off, she’s free when she’s helping someone, she’s free when she’s creating stuff, she’s free when she’s doing her taxes, she’s just – free. Always. She just forgets that sometimes and needs reminding. You can be the one to remind her. You can be the Basset of Freedom.

Sad Rage Basset: Mmmwhrrrr? (ears perk up)

Mr. H: You think you can fly with those ears?

(The Sad Rage Basset, who must now be called the Basset of Freedom, stands up, shakes its enormous ears, goes into a lumbering run, and takes off, flolloping through the air like a canine Dumbo.)

Basset of Freedom: I’m a serious joke! I’m a profound truth with ludicrous ears!

Mr. H: (laughing) Yeah! Now you get it!

Basset of Freedom: You mean, now I get myself!

Mr. H: Yeah!!

Basset of Freedom: I say, NEVER DO ANYTHING THAT ISN’T PLAY! It’s easy – just notice that you’re free! And if you think the idea of you being free is ridiculous – LOOK AT ME! Bassets might fly! And they do! Wheeeeee….

(Mr. H wipes a surreptitious tear. I feel the need to run onto the scene.)

Me: Thank you so much! All three of you! Hugpile!

(There is a hugpile.)

Things I realised afterwards!

As well as the dichotomy between ‘right things’ (that I don’t wanna do) and ‘wrong things’, there was this huge dichotomy going on between ‘serious things’ and ‘jokes’, which baffled me at the time because it was clearly deep and meaningful and connected but – how?

Afterwards it hit me. The opposite of seriousness is fun. So what we had was a dichotomy between ‘serious things’ (that I don’t wanna do) and ‘fun things’. And it somehow got completely dissolved without ever being directly discussed. And the flying basset is a living picture of serious-fun. The job’s a game.

Also, this is the SECOND monster who’s brought up a quote from the play ‘Antigone’ by Jean Anouilh! See also Big No and Big Yes.

Big Sister teaches THE SHINY STAR FORCEFIELD!

You can meet Big Sister here and Little Sister here.

I had to pass through an area containing a person around whom I felt very, very uncomfortable. I’d been thinking that I needed some kind of extra-special conscious entry or forcefield to help me, so while walking there, it occurred to me to ask Big Sister for advice. (I always have the best conversations with my sisters while walking!) Little Sister was there as well, so it went like THIS:

Me: Can you give me any advice on this special forcefield thing?

Big Sister: *shines with golden divine light*

Me: That’s your answer to everything!

Big Sister: *shines*

Me: Wait, that means it’ll be MY answer to everything in a year too. That means I’ll be able to shine! Could you start teaching me to shine now?

Big Sister: Of course! First you have to find the star in your heart.

(I put my hand on my heart and the others did likewise. Little Sister started singing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’, which was the only song I would sing when I was four. Big Sister and I joined in, and I visualised a bright star in my chest while I was singing.)

Big Sister: Found it?

Me & Little Sister: Yes!

Big Sister: Right, now you say all the qualities that your star is made of.

Little Sister: Love!

Me: Light!

Little Sister: Happiness!

Me: Beauty!

Little Sister: Wonderfulness!

Me: Freedom!

Little Sister: Sparkles!

Me: Hope!

Little Sister: Play!

Big Sister: That’s lovely. Are you done?

Little Sister: Loveliness!

Me: Parties!

Little Sister: Birthdays!

Me: Christmas!

Little Sister: Bunny rabbits! Pussy willow!

Big Sister: (chuckles) Is your star shining nice and bright now?

Little Sister: YES!

Me: Yes!

Big Sister: Great. Now take a big breath in, and let your star grow a little bit bigger. Every time you breathe in, let your star get bigger. Bigger than your body… out to the tips of your fingers… down to the tips of your toes… up to the top of your head.

(We all did this until we were walking along inside three balls of brilliant light. When the light reached the top of my head, I was startled to find that a tall crown of golden-white fire flared up from my head into the sky.)

Little Sister: I’ve got a crown!

Me: Me too!

Big Sister: Yes. (smiles) Now we just need to keep our stars big and bright. Let’s sing our star song again.

(So we all sang ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ again, in a blaze of light.)

Little Sister: Now what do we do?

Big Sister: Let’s do some more qualities.

Little Sister: Bunny rabbits! Pillow fights! A good sneeze! Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens!

Big Sister: Fine, fine, we can sing that if you want to!

So we sang ‘My Favourite Things’. Then we did qualities again, except this time we were shouting out all our favourite things as well. Dogs! Cherry blossom! The sky! God! Ice cream! Crying because you’re happy!

We got into the area in question, and the person in question was there, and it was fine. We kept doing qualities while I sorted myself out, and it changed again, from favourite things to everything that came into our heads, because everything that came into our heads was mysteriously part of the wonderfulness. Hockey sticks! Mirrors! Being warm! Tweezers! Shouting things out!

Then we got through that area to the door and this happened:

Little Sister: (patting the door) Hello door!

Big Sister: Hi door!

Me: Hiii door!

Little Sister: We love you!

(I should add that this kind of enthusiastic door-love is a totally normal part of conscious entry with my sisters, but it’s the first time they’ve done it with an actual door. And then we went in.)

Big Sister: Now you don’t just forget about your star. You let it get smaller. Do a nice big sigh and let it get a little bit smaller. Then another, and another, until it fits inside your heart again. Ah-h-h-h!

Me & Little Sister: Ahhhh!

(We did this and it felt as if the star-energy wasn’t dissipating, it was just relaxing down to a sort of seed state inside us.)

Little Sister: Big hugs!!

(And then we all had a group hug.)