Another personality test I am very fond of, apart from the MBTI, is the Enneagram Personality Test. I have completed this test twice in my lifetime, and each time, I tested as Enneagram Type 4, as many INFPs often do. From reading various descriptions of Enneagram Type 4, one particular phrase remained in my mind, even after all these years: “Fours are prone to fantasizing about a savior who will rescue them from their unhappiness.”
At the time, I brushed it off with a loud, internal scoffing noise. Me, fantasize about being rescued by some Prince Charming, when the only man who I had loved in my life—my father—left me without a backward glance and when most young men wouldn’t know how to save themselves, let alone a “damsel in distress”? That would be rather like a princess wishing to be saved even after all the eligible and brave young princes have been beheaded. I know very well, just like you probably do, that there is no-one to save me or rescue me; in this world, the real world, as they like to call it, all the saving is done for ourselves, by ourselves, and the truth is most people are too busy fending off their own dragons and trying to survive in their own towers to bother about you.
Nevertheless, it kept coming back to me, this phrase, circling through my mind in the quiet seconds and minutes, when I was pouring some water (a luxury, I remind myself, such a luxury to have fresh, clean, drinking water; little reminders like that, as my therapist reminded me, can help keep one positive—she is right) or taking out the trash or cooking or cleaning or making the beds (I sound like a maid, but I do spend a good portion of my time doing those things to help my mother now that I am mostly housebound). You know, just those tiny moments where your hands are busy but your mind is free to wander and explore. A rescuer. Hm. Logically, rationally, I knew very well there would be no-one to rescue me, and each of us live and die quite alone. Love and friendship—why, these are but comforting illusions. Almost everything is an illusion, and out of all the illusions available in the world, I have chosen books and fantasy to immerse myself in, because they, personally, offer the most delight and variety. Any experiences one can have in reality pale in comparison to the worlds one can explore and the lives one can live in books and stories.
But before trying to find out why it was so many dreamers like myself, cynical though we may be, might imagine being rescued from their woes, I tried to figure out what exactly it was people like me needed saving from. Unhappiness was too general a term. It was something else. A certain dissatisfaction with reality bordering on loathing, a dissatisfaction with what life held and what the world contained so uncomfortable we almost feel the urge to skin ourselves to be rid of it. The monotony of our days. The “miserable reality of our days”. The humdrum, everyday, banal, boring state of normality we wake up to every morning. That was what dreamers—Enneagram Type 4s really are basically very melancholy dreamers—desired to be saved from, and many other people besides. We want to feel the adrenaline rush of being alive, living, for euphoria to course through our veins. There’s a reason so many people around the world take drugs, go on holidays, dine at fine restaurants, seek thrills and pleasures: they want to jolt something into their hearts and their brains in order to remind themselves they are really alive. It is so easy to die before the true death comes.
What would, then, be the best method of saving us from this unfortunate situation? What wriggles into our lives and shakes things up and make things look different, changed, more beautiful? Why, love, of course. Of course. Who among us, dreamers especially, wouldn’t want to be whisked away on a romantic adventure to a safe place, and to lie in the arms of someone who can keep us safe, preferably until the end of time? We want, if only on a subconscious level, to be rescued, so we can obtain the kind of comfort and security most of us were lucky enough to enjoy as children, to a return to a time when the world was a place of excitement and novelty, and the present moment the only that existed.
Even today, on my short jaunts into the outside world, I find myself daydreaming, occasionally, for something to “rescue” me from the reality of my days. It certainly doesn’t necessarily need to be somebody—instead, I simply look around, hopefully, for something, anything, to remind me that life is worth living, even when it is boring, meaningless, stressful and hard, as it is the majority of the time. I don’t always find it. Sometimes, it’s an act of kindness I spy, or laughter and friendliness between people; on my good days, just driving past a little bird hopping on the pavement is enough to shoot a small spurt of joy through my heart. On the bad days, well, like the princess in her tower, all I feel is a feeling of dread and imprisonment, boredom at the same old world I find myself waking up in again, desperate to escape the walls of reality and out into a place more strange and wonderful and interesting.
Unlike the fabled princess, however, I don’t need a prince to do that: instead, I have my imagination, I have books, I have my writing, and though I will always yearn for love, always yearn for something “special” to happen, someone “special” to step into my life, change things, make me feel different on the inside, there are myriad little things in life that can save us a thousand times over.