It is funny how little things install themselves into our subconscious mind as we grow up, like spyware or viruses on computers they slip in when we are not looking and remain a part of our ‘operating system’ forever. We all know that it is good practice to run antivirus on our computer to remove these unwanted programs but what can we do to delete the unwanted and unneeded secret codes that run in our subconscious?
As an example of the oddity of these seemingly innocuous snippets or practices that we carry with us I give you the teaspoon. When I exit my hotel room in the morning I always make sure that I have tidied the room, left it presentable, opened the curtains and turned down the HVAC whilst this is not a particularly rock star approach years of living in hotels has taught me the benefits of befriending the staff. As I tidied my room this morning I happened upon a teaspoon perched on the table, immediately I moved it back to the little hospitality tray after all what would they think if they found a spoon elsewhere in my room? With ten minutes to spare I considered this question with my more conscious mind, why would a teaspoon out-of-place be such a matter of shame? Why is it that I associate the errant teaspoon with some dark nefarious activity that I would not wish to be associated with? It is all down to my mother who, you see, was not someone who kept up to date with the ways of the youth but she was absolutely paranoid about the use of illegal drugs. This was a woman who grew up with dire warnings of heroin being given to schoolchildren with candy in an effort to draw them into a life of addiction.
Having read a couple of autobiographies, Bob Geldof being one that stands out, my mother had convinced herself that the key to all illicit drugs was the teaspoon. God help anyone that lost a teaspoon in our house, which was a clear admission of a drug habit. I distinctly remember that when my younger sister had some troublesome years as a young teenager my mother could clearly account for this in missing teaspoons. This logic was impenetrable to me as a child how could I defeat it? Sure I could argue that there were far more common place recreational drugs that did not require the use of a teaspoon but that would show knowledge that, in my mother’s world, I should not have had. I could argue that the effects of the more fragrant cigarettes readily available to all were not as life destroying or obvious as heroin. I could probably have presented a logical argument that the fact that she had gained this knowledge from an autobiography meant that the situation may not have been as bad as the media made out. My mother was an intelligent woman but this was not a subject where she gave much ground to logic, arguing was not a path along which one would find enlightenment, more likely physical pain.
I looked at the spoon this morning and understood that there was no logical reason for me not to leave it where it had been, I considered placing back in the previous location. I could not quite beat the nagging sensation that this would cause somebody cleaning my room later to conclude that I was in a bad way. I gave up smoking 14 years ago, sheer stubbornness got me through it and this is a personality trait that my phyisoterroist will attest to so why can’t I beat the unwanted code in my subconscious?
I never moved the spoon back (thanks mum) but having considered it I will now be working on my own virus scan to clean out some of the subconscious rubbish that we all carry around. I may even defrag and free up some useable space but most importantly I will overcome the shame of a missing teaspoon.