One of the paradoxes of gaining objective self-knowledge is that we can only define the relevant playing field from the viewpoint of our existing mental models. This is very old wisdom but we have forgotten it.

In Beowulf it was Grendel the giant monster that was feared (i.e. what our early mental models tell us to fear) but it was Grendel’s mother that was to be truly feared (i.e. giving up our old mental models for the unknown). In The Heart Aroused David White illustrates how facing the fears that keep us awake at night is essential to awaken the soul: “It is not the thing you fear that you must deal with, it is the mother of the thing you fear.” (p. 38) We will never become creators without this awakening and many would rather remain asleep throughout the workday, where compliance substitutes for commitment and our real selves continue to elude our many false starts.

This is beautifully expressed by David White: “. . . it is a frighteningly accurate description of what happens to men and women who refuse to confront their more powerful creative urges. It is all very well in the broad light of day at work, or during the feasting and celebrations, when bonuses and employee-of-the-month wall plaques are being handed to the worthy; but at three in the morning, when we are alone, our defenses are down and we cannot sleep, the huge green hand rises from below and drags us into something hitherto ignored, deeper and more urgent.” (pp. 36-37)