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Originally published on, January 1, 2020

Since it’s January, I thought I would take a moment to talk about something that comes up for me a lot. Some people might know about it - I see it all over the place… but here it is:

Look at a tree.

There’s a trunk, and out of the trunk - come branches.

Look at a branch.

There’s a stem, and out of the stem - come smaller branches.

Look at a smaller branch.

There’s a stem, and then even smaller branches.

Then eventually, you come to a leaf.

And what does a leaf look like?

A stem, and veins that come out of it.

And each vein has smaller veins… and smaller… till the details are too small to see.


Now look at a person. Look at me:

I have a conscious and a subconscious mind - I have thoughts that are on the surface, and thoughts that are buried deep, that I don’t typically notice or rarely confront, though I should. But these thoughts are certainly harder to get to.

I have emotions - joy, sorrow, anger…

I have decisions, but behind every decision there could be so many thoughts, so many deliberations, so many emotions; and I could spend years hashing through something before I finally make a move.

And who knows… maybe later, I will regret it and try to move another way?

Now look at a couple:

They have things they are open about (a lot like their collective “conscious” mind, as a couple); and they have things that they don’t talk about. These things can fester, and get in the way of a relationship - just like a trauma, buried deep in one person’s soul, can fester and destroy that person’s body from the inside.

The couple is happy together, sad together, and in many cases also struggle and are angry together (against some outside threat, that makes both partners angry).

They make decisions together, but they might spend hours or days talking about it before they make their move.

And who knows… maybe later, they will regret it and try to move another way?

Now look at a group: A family, or a circle of friends…

They have things they talk about, and things that they don’t.

They are happy together, sad together, and angry together - all as a group, as a unit. They celebrate as a group, they mourn as a group, and they fight as a group.

They deliberate and argue, sometimes they agree and sometimes they are lost in disagreement for years - a lot like a single person, who cannot make up their mind about something.

And who knows… maybe someday, they will move another way.

Look at a state.

Now look at a country.

Now look at the world.


Not long ago, I was talking to a friend of mine named Kiona Medina, who works as a psychotherapist. I was thinking about the Middle East conflict, which is often on my mind.

And I asked her: “Do you work with couples?”

She said, “Yeah.”

And I asked her, “How often does it happen, in couples therapy, that one person is convinced that they’re right, and it’s all the other person’s fault?”

And she said, “That happens all the time.”


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