“How do we find balance in our social norms in instances when they help us as a society but also hurt us as individuals?”

Human beings are a strange animal. We are creatures of never-ending confliction, masters of creation and destruction. We often pit our more basic impulses against our logical judgments—our higher minds versus our primal urges. It’s a struggle that has remained stagnant for countless centuries, and undoubtedly, millennia. The reason for this stalemate is that, like so many other enduring battles, it is not so simple as pitting “right” against “wrong”.

Chad Van Gaalen

Chad VanGaalen sings of yielding to his “primitive brain” in a song of the same title. On first listen it might be taken as a song of shame—but what calls to me from within the song is a yearning, a yearning to accept his ancient self without harsh reprimand from others.

Now, on the Surface the division between our modern and primitive human motivations is far more pronounced than here in the Great Below, but a division less pronounced is a division nonetheless. We are, in many ways, not so different from our cousins on the Surface.

How do we find balance in our social norms in instances when they help us as a society but also hurt us as individuals? “Primitive Brain” moves me to reflect on this question. It has also inspired a small revelation within myself. To many it seems quite strange that I retreat to the Deep Down for relaxation, many see it as a place of extreme stress, there is no denying that, for most, it is unpredictable in a psychologically demanding way. For that reason I find myself there alone, almost without exception, and I think that seclusion is at the center of the peace I feel in the Deep Down. It is there that I can unleash my primitive brain entirely and exercise a part of myself we all strictly regulate, consciously or not.

Perhaps it is time we search ourselves for the ability to be tolerant of odd behavior in others in the pursuit of accepting that primeval corner of our own minds. We know that in finding balance we find peace—and the route to balance intersects tolerance and acceptance invariably.