I own an original Playstation 1 (or PSX) game console and often play classic games, especially from the Final Fantasy series. Lately, I’ve been playing Final Fantasy 9, which is the last game designed for the PSX. It is quite entertaining and combines a lot of positive elements from past games.1
One of its strongest features is the depth of the characters and the back-story. On the title screen of the game, you can see each of the 8 playable characters and their “theme” or personal problem they’re trying to overcome. For example, here’s Steiner’s profile:
Here’s Freya’s profile:
And here’s Quina’s:
When I saw this, I thought that this was true with people in real life too. Every person you meet has some kind of burning “crisis” or personal problem they live with. It subtly drives their behavior, and reinforces certain mental habits over and over again. As Jung might say, everyone has their personal demon.
In Frank Herbert’s book, Dune Messiah, the character Hayt described it this way:
The greatest palatinate earl and the lowliest stipendiary serf share the same problem. You cannot hire a mentat or any other intellect to solve it for you. There’s no writ of inquest or calling of witnesses to provide answers. No servant — or disciple — can dress the wound. You dress it yourself or continue bleeding for all to see.
This “bleeding wound” is something every person has, but usually they can’t see it in themselves. They can see it in others by their behavior, and others can see their wound, but people usually live blind to their own. This crisis, this wound, is a central problem in one’s life. Every person’s problems are somewhat unique, but it’s naive to believe that people don’t have them.
But for people reading this, I think the first step to overcoming one’s problem is to even know what it is. As I quoted years ago, Frank Herbert wrote in the novel Dune:
What do you despise? By this are you truly known.
In a sense, you are giving it a name. In old Western myth, if you could name a demon, you could defeat it. Being aware of the problem, you can take the long, slow steps necessary to overcome it. I can’t tell you what those steps are, I am not some slick-talking guru, but I can tell you that you cannot solve a problem if you cannot identify what it is.
Namu Amida Butsu
1 FF7 is still my all-time favorite, but FF9 is a close second.