Of Paradigms

September 23, 2002

For the last couple of weeks I have struggled with an obsession about wanting a Powerbook G4 Titanium laptop from Apple. I have learned some important lessons about myself along the way. In a way these new understandings have eased my craving for this laptop, as I better understand some of the emotional motivations behind the need. On the other hand my desire has been strengthened because this laptop would always represent some significant and important growth milestones in my personal development.

Yesterday in a long discussion with my wife and partner, Michele, I came to the understanding that my parent's paradigms for making purchases are very different from each other. The two methods are diametrically opposed and often at odds with each other. Being the child of both parents I have some of each paradigm, and therefore I am often in conflict with myself when making purchases. One paradigm is logical and emotionless; it is about minute detail and mastery of knowledge about the purchase. The other is centered in frugalness and in denying desires that may not be worthy. Neither of these processes works for me, and yet I try to force myself into some hybrid paradigm combining both.

I have strong intellectual and emotional centers to my personality. The logical mastery paradigm appeals to my intellectual center, but it creates conflict with my emotional center. The frugal denial paradigm creates conflict with my emotional center as well. For most of my life I have strived to be only intellectual, I have suppressed my emotional center to the point that I have manifested some physical aliments. In the past few years I have focused heavily on my emotional center, learning how to have balance between my intellectual and emotional centers.

The Powerbook search initially followed the logical paradigm. I was collecting facts and figures, comparing it to other similarly equipped machines. However, even this initial stage had some emotional conflict, as the whole reason for selecting an Apple is emotional ~ I like the way it looks and feels. When I reached the stage where I was seriously ready to purchase the whole frugalness/worthiness paradigm raised its head. Even considering letting myself have something this good was incredibly difficult; actually making the purchase was beyond me.

Added to this turmoil was a situation involving a prolonged physical ailment my wife and I have faced together for the past 4 years. It had been very pronounced for the past few weeks and we were both stretched pretty thin emotionally and physically as a result. I was feeling very helpless and out of control and turned the Powerbook purchase into my own personal grail of release and relief. If I could just get this machine in the manner I wanted everything else would be okay. Only I wasn't dealing with the fear and upset from the physical situation and I was trying to use the purchase of a new laptop to make myself feel better.

The real conflict was the building need to release my pent up emotions about the physical situation and not giving myself permission to do so. These retained emotions added tremendous content to the heretofore-intellectual pursuit of a new laptop. But the now tremendous need for completing the laptop purchase triggered my guilt over letting myself have good things. In the end I was an emotional wreck.

It took a couple days to decompress and sort out all that stuff that I had wrapped up in a seemingly innocent desire to buy a laptop. I was able to express openly and honestly all the pent up fear and anger I had about the physical issue my wife and I are dealing with. Then I was able to understand that my mother and father have their own unique ways of making purchases. Neither of these paradigms works for me. Finally I was able to see that I hadn't done anything wrong along the way that I was just being human.

Today I still want to have a laptop, most preferably a Powerbook G4. I delight in objects that are aesthetically appealing, and also in new (to me) technologies. It also satisfies my logically constructed list of requirements. Having this laptop would please me and reward me for some hard growth work well done.

Today I also see, once again the power of emotions, and the damage that can happen if they aren't openly and honestly expressed in a safe place. I am truly blessed for I share my life with a woman who is my safe place. She understands what it is to be human and gives me the room to explore my emotions and my intellect openly and without fear of judgment.

Today I see that I am moving even farther out of the shadow of my parents. They have habits that work for them. I am developing habits that work for me. I am becoming my own man. I am proud of myself for the new understandings I've gained. I am stronger and healthier today than ever before.

Author's profile picture

Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.