Whether thought of as a metaphor, historic fact, or somewhere in between, the story of Eve eating the apple is known to some as the Eternal Mistake. She was told not to eat the apple but her desire was just too great. I recall wrestling with the punishment of Eve in my graduate studies. It seems to me that the theology surrounding the genesis account speaks much more to the fear of desire and perhaps the inability to be with the pain that comes with the wild throws of desire. I had been taught that to seek after such juicy, sweet goodness, desire for a knowledge that would transform, would be falling into the same mistake that Eve made:dually wrong in the eyes of God. Desire for God was good. Desire for what made the heart feel alive was dangerous. Living a life without sin, perfection, was the right way. What no one told me was that the process of listening to desire, embracing the risk of vulnerability and the courage to step into the unknown inevitably leads to making choices that have painful consequences. To stay with the genesis account, these painful choices would be labeled as mistakes, and from the perspective of psychological development, they are an essential part of growing up. Perhaps Eve didn't actually make a mistake but rather took a risk, and learned to bear the response-ability that comes alongside her desire. In my adult years, I have found myself often envious of Eve's audacity to pursue the burning of her desire over the caution of others. I've been envious of her ability to learn for herself what the burden of such knowledge feels like. To know the courage it takes to step past one's limit, to discover what it feels like to be response-able, has brought me to a life much more alive and full. It is a different sort of burden, but one so much more dynamic than that of perfection.
This piece of my writing of was published in the January 2015 edition of The Alliance Forum, the quarterly newsletter of the Northwest Alliance for Psychoanalytic Study.
I thought I'd share it here since the publication is not yet available online.