I updated my "About page" the other night. I wanted to get out from my brain onto "paper" why I was starting this business and why I was offering a class called Alchemy Summer School. It's not anything poetic just yet, but hopefully will become that way with edits.
The other day, I saw a heartbreaking article on Facebook about a woman from London, England who lived out of her car for 25 years, and in various make-shift accomodations for the next 13 after her car was towed away. She was killed by an oncoming truck last week at the age of 77.
Anne Naysmith started her career as a concert pianist and was also a gifted singer. According to the Daily Mail, she was "tipped to be one of the greatest pianists of her generation", having been trained at the Royal Academy of Music. She didn't have any memory of her dad, but she essentially fulfilled her mother's dreams of seeing her daughter becoming a musician, but then had a fight with her mom and they parted ways. Then, as so often happens with Fours, they see their brilliant, shining talent, and they start to get nervous and start looking for a way down the ladder. In the words of the newspaper reports, she either failed to live up to the expectations of her peers and critics, or her career simply "stalled", and after an eviction that she protested by living in her car, she ended up living most of her life homeless on the streets of Chiswick, London. She refused to accept all help- from donated shoes to better subsidized housing. Yet she helped others. She offered passers-by tomato soup that she made with tomatos grown from her own garden, and participated in the local politics. She was bright, intellectual, fiercely independent, and had good English manners. Some of the local residents really had a fondness for her. Others thought she lowered the value of their homes.
She was either a Type 1 or a Type 4, but I'm going to make a case for Type 4. Type 1 is the perfectionist who makes decision on principle, not on feeling. How else could you leave an entire Christmas dinner untouched on the hood of your car for weeks if you weren't a Type One? Spending decades protesting an unfair action would be a quitessential Type 1 campaign. Other type one qualities were involvement in local politics, and certainly not being a burden to others could be a Type One principle. But I think if she was a type One, there would be more energy around the eviction, and it seems she would have gone to more legal efforts to get her house back. Rather, I find the ambiguity around her fall from stardom to be more compelling. Had she been a One with a "stalled career", we would know the reason why her career was stalling- at least she would most definitely know- and her story would have been more concretized around her downfall.
A Type Four on the other hand, gets to the gate where all they have to do is reach out and touch their goal, and instead says, "nah- this doesn't feel like it's really 'me'" and they turn back around. The energy of the Four is around identity, and is addicted to frustration, so if the fruits of their labor come too easily, they feel superficial and are thus downplayed. It's as if in order for something to feel "right" there has to be a feeling that "something is missing." So when stardom is handed to them, they say, "wait a second, I'll be back after I've tortured myself doing something I'm not really gifted at so I can prove that I can still attain success with five pianos tied to my toes."
Michael Naylor, a well-known Type 4 coach, says that every time he gets ready to teach another Enneagram course, he surveys the upcoming week, and thinks, "Actually, this isn't quite 'me'", and has to push himself through to the opening evening, and after that, he's on a roll, back to loving what he does.
Type Fours usually have a hard time finding what they're meant to do in life, and it is typical of them to underperform after having seen their potential because it's easier to protect yourself by underachieving. If you strive and strive and strive, but ultimately fail, that failure is more shameful than not having strived enough. It is much safer to underachieve, because then nobody will ever know if they're capable of reaching that potential. They want to achieve greatness just like any other type, but feel like it has to be hard-won, like they have to be allowed to drag a bunch of baggage to the finish line with them.
The Four's ego identity is formed around an early tragedy- usually not feeling fully seen- so they lose faith in their holding environment, believing that even when people do offer help, it's suspicious because accepting it would mean losing a piece of their identity as a sufferer. It's almost like the person who offers them help has to be really, really qualified. They have to fully understand the Four and their depths and longings. When the Four is fully seen, they can come out of hiding and take steps forward.
Fours famously protect themselves from the deep and searing primal pain of rejection or lack of nurturing with a shallower sadness that distracts them from the work they truly need to be doing on themselves.
Type Fours are the type who represent the part of human nature to feel that something is missing, and they overidentify with the lack. Other types will try and compensate for the emptiness, while a Four will hang out there and figure out what is wrong with them that they would be missing that elusive ingredient. They look around at others with envy that they're don't have the "it" factor that makes it so easy to interact with others and work up the ladder like everyone else is doing. As Jessica Dibb says, they don't ever feel quite ready, or the circumstances aren't quite right, or there's not enough meaning or the support they need just isn't quite there, for them to let their guard down and act; while if they just act, if gives them an ability to bring "the depth that matters [so much] to them; to bring the beauty that sings to their heart and soul so deeply into concrete action in the world, is a gift that they can bring."
The Homeric characters that represents the Type 4 are the sirens, the "muses of the lower world", which were depicted as part woman, part bird. Odysseus is navigating through the waters where the the beautiful temptresses sing their sad, mournful song about the missing Persephone, and he knows that whoever listens to their singing will be so enraptured, they'll either jump into the sea to go be with the them or in steering their boat, they'll crash into the rocks. So because he wants to hear their singing, he stops his sailors' ears with wax and gets himself tied to the mast, ordering his sailors not to let him loose no matter how much he begs or orders.
When being offered something after being denied something, it's almost like the offering is a test of their will to never be hurt like that again. Russ Hudson offers the example of the screaming baby who is crying and wailing to be fed, and finally, when someone comes and tries to feed them, they refuse it. Like "it's too late. You missed your opportunity to help me when I needed it."
There's some vulnerability around accepting something that's "too little too late" for a Four that I want to examine in my next blog post. Because people did offer to help her- it doesn't sound like in life-saving ways, but definitely in small ways.
It is an unbelievable tragedy that she fell that far and couldn't get back up again, or at least couldn't see how she was allowed to get back up. Her ego in my opinion, held her in a prison, and therefore she held her musical potential in a prison. And so I disagree with any romanticizing or patronizing of her. In my mind, this is pure tragedy.