Peeling the Onion

by Jaakko

A dear friend of mine once said that meeting other people is like peeling our onion, giving away layers of ours. The surrounding people help us to see inside, into the inner chambers of ourselves. We keep on peeling, mirroring ourselves on the others, and every time it hurts.

What if there was nothing inside? Just emptiness. Empty, spherical hollow filled with nothing.

Imagine a man who goes through a great trouble, perhaps the greatest trouble of all, in order to see his inside. He takes the peeling seriously. He suffers unimaginable spiritual and physical pain in order to reach the core. At some point, he finally finishes his task. He is in his core. And what does he find? Empty space.

I and my friend had numerous conversations about this, sometimes the onion becoming a cabbage, but ok, more or less the same thing. We came into the conclusion that it is necessary to hold some cover to be able to live in this world. We can’t go running around naked (not in this society anyway) and it is natural to hide some aspects of your personality. And vice versa: we don’t want to be covered in a thick layer of clammy cabbage.

If we sauté an onion, it becomes transparent. So maybe we could, somehow, gently fry ourselves slightly so that others could see through us. But in order to live happy lives, we must not overdo it.

My conclusion at this point is that perhaps human psyche is the layers of the onion. The whole structure. It’s not what is inside but it’s the various levels and layers. And even if that something inside could be brought to daylight, our perception could not detect it.

Take sorrow, for example. We can’t measure it. Science can only deal with the layers, and that’s what cognitive psychology is all about; our thoughts are the layers. The thoughts that are brought to us by our parents, teachers, friends and great novelists of the world.

After all, the point about peeling the onion is that we can choose which layers to keep and which to discard. Tears might come, but it’s natural.

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