When do you know that it’s time to let go?
There is always that resounding truth in the front of your mind telling you that there is still a chance [of whatever the matter is], be it .0000.....1%, and that this “thing” is still out there somewhere in the universe. It tethers your hopes to life and gives you some false sense of optimism. I know, I know... you’re lost right now, just bare with me for a moment.
You see, this is the way I think of it: Usually your conscience is portrayed as two miniature versions of you sitting on either shoulder. In entertainment and cinema, one you usually adorns some sort of wings and halo set giving the audience a sense that this you is your pure, angelic form (what Sigmund Freud would probably refer to as one’s “superego.”) It is also routine for your other shoulder to play host to your devil self. This is provided aesthetically via red horns, a tail, and a forked staff. This is essentially Sigmund Freud’s personified vision of one’s “id.” (Leaving the central you to act as Freud's "ego," of course.)
In compliance with classic theatrical portrayals of such a scene, the two exaggerated versions of you proceed to bicker over potential courses of action (occupying opposite spectral platforms as they occupy opposite shoulders), in turn leaving the original, mundane you just as, if not more, confused and undecided as before.
This, my friends, is called cinematic cliché. I’d go on a rant divulging my utter distaste for use of clichés, but in the interest of arriving at some sort of apex in my youth, I’ll simply said that this can, at best, provide comedic relief. Because, really, that’s just not how it happens. We’ll save my ironically trite rant of clichés for a rainy day. I digress.
Anyway, I see the whole “conscience” thing quite differently in my head. I still see a me on either shoulder, however they are not wearing any sort of festive costume that can be found at Party City for candy begging (and Julia-birthday-like) holidays. No, they just look like me, adorning my regular old get-up; it’s really very simple.
I talk to them, which is to say that I talk to myself. Quite often, really… but we already knew this.
This is all relevant to the topic of letting go, I promise. I’m just laying down the bricks.
So these people on my shoulders differ from the trademark picture of conscience in yet another most significant fashion. While the theory of miniature versions of you on either shoulder offering both advice at the opposite ends of the spectrum as well as an exchange of witty and almost friendly banter is both cute and creepy, it was originally invented as a simplified manifestation of personal moral discretion that can be most easily understood by an audience in which one must assume that it isn’t altogether bright enough to figure these sorts of things on its own. It’s like Hermione Granger or Dumbledore; JK Rowling once said that if any new theories need to be introduced in the Harry Potter books concerning the wizarding world, she would use either Hermione or my good pal Albus as a device with which to present the information to her readers as it makes sense due to their slightly ominous presences throughout the book.
Do you go with the Devil, whose advice is consistently most appealing but almost always selfish, indulgent, immoral, and/or illegal? OR do you side with your right shoulder-dwelling Angel, who's advice is reliable though often more selfless and rational than instantaneously gratifying? The Devil does an excellent job of promoting the irrational and impulsive option that most likely pays off immediately but is not, however, always beneficial to you/others/society from a long term perspective.
But you get what you want!
And you get it now!
But at what price?
The answer seems clear: it's usually somewhere in the middle. It’s rational and sane, which means it’s a good thing that so many on this earth are just that. That’s why we don’t have economic problems; that's why we all agree across the nation on every little thing. My God, if you couldn’t hint the sarcasm in that statement, then there’s just nothing that I can possibly do for you! Nevertheless, the reasonable enough, well-adjusted individual would, if only given the choices of the two extremes, ideally choose to be the angel.
Here’s where our (as in, reader vs. Julia) situations part ways. I have a Julia on each shoulder, appearing to be neither demonic nor angelic. All the better with which to fool me, my dear! The truth: they are both devils, using their silver tongues and quick wits to influence every decision I make. They tell me what I want to hear, but not what I should hear. They lead me to my own doom, one that I arrive at expecting cookies. They own me and prevent me from ever letting go of any matter that they can coax me into believing possible, the little Tykes. And, even though I know this, I continue to fall into their traps time and time again. They don’t like me, which is fucked up due to the fact that they are me.
Jane, on the right, and Montgomery, on the left, are 100% pure evil. They exist entirely; I would never call them imaginary friends. I only have room for one imaginary friend, and his name is Shiloh. My boobs are Jumanji and King Kong and I have a whole lot of body parts named Martha… but none of these are as damn manipulative as the three inch versions of myself whom won’t even like me via familial (if you can call yourself family) obligation. Some [well balanced] individuals have a visual manifestation of a conscience of moral discretion (as was mentioned), whereas I have only a visual manifestation of my own poor, convoluted judgment… as if I needed additional reminders of how insane I am.
Anyway, the little devils don’t let me forget anything and they completely own my soul… but, ehh, what can ya’ do?
Tell me I'm crazy.
Now tell me you love me, anyway.