Let’s talk about the subconscious for a moment…
When I first learned about the subconscious mind, I was probably in high school. I was taking the most basic of psychology lessons which spoke of ids and egos and superegos, of a coked-up closeted Freud who saw penises wherever he looked. I suspect at some point the teacher was out sick and brought in Bela Lugosi or Boris Karloff for a substitute who wrote on the chalkboard in drippy spooky handwriting The Subconscious.
The subconscious gets such a bad rap, doesn’t it? It’s basically the dank basement of the mind where damp mildewed Playboys are stashed, where vermin chomp on millipedes. It’s the secret hidden family raised in a bomb shelter. It’s the boogeyman of the identity, hiding under your bed to come out and play once the waking conscious has finished sweeping the floor and flipped the store sign to “Closed”.
While the conscious or the ego or the what-have-you is the protagonist of the Harry Nilsson song “Best Friend”, the subconscious is this creepy bastard that makes us do things that we have not necessarily intended. We seem to peg its decisions on desires that only float to the surface once the goldfish has overeaten. We make the subconscious our scapegoat, fall guy, stool pigeon, patsy for all those words, deeds, and actions gagged and bound by our conscious mind.
Personally, I believe the subconscious, rather than a root cellar, is more like a system of roots. It is more like a subterranean space with a set of networked tunnels that connects to all the other caverns of the world. In other words, our subconscious is not ours alone. If you think about it, pop psychology has claimed the ego wants to disavow any association to the nefarious underworld of the mind. If the ego is all about maintaining a GI Joe Kung-Fu grip on the identity of the self, the subconscious has no concern regarding such trivial matters as self-identity, much less self-awareness. See where I’m going with this?
Let’s sharpen this pencil a bit more, like that kid that’s trying to stall before taking that state-mandated test: The subconscious is not concerned with only our immediate survival. The subconscious only recognizes its formless borderless self, devoid of the demarcations imposed by identity. It sees itself as the cellular spokesman of the world-at-large. While it is making recommendations and decisions based on what is best for the self that otherwise renders the cowardly lion of the ego immobile, it knows what is best for the self is what is best for the whole.
So while pop psychology wants to vilify the subconscious on a cultural level, it truly is the hero of the story. It pulls us back to functioning as an integral part of the big picture. It knows that if the body dies, so does each and every cell along with it. To persistently listen to and follow the machinations of the ego is a path to certain death. Cousin Id with its identifying characteristics hidden beneath a haystack of hairiness is actually what is looking out for our best interest, as it knows what is in our best interest is actually what is in the best interest of everything and everyone.