May you live in interesting times

July 27, 2020

 

May you live in interesting times -- so goes the curse or blessing. Regardless of your spin on it, we certainly do. Robert F. Kennedy invoked those words in a 1966 speech. The mid-60s were surely interesting times and you don't have to dig hard to find parallels with the period we are in. Still, interesting or not, how you choose to live in whatever time and space you find yourself is up to you.

 

I've been digging back into James Hollis's wonderful little book, On This Journey We Call Our Life: Living the QuestionsHollis, a Jungian analyst and acclaimed author, asks 10 important questions in this book. Today's chapter, What Is My Myth? is nine short pages about the personal myth each one of us carries about as dramatically "embodied imagos which our soul serves, whether we know them or not, whether they are helpful or not, whether culturally imposed or individual in origin." (In psychoanalysis, the imago is an unconscious idealized mental image of someone, especially a parent, which influences a person's behavior.) That sounds like some pretty heavy stuff so let me break it down a bit.

 

The question to answer here is What values do I hold? Are they really mine or are they my parents'? Or What patterns to I continue to repeat and why? These two questions alone (and that's just the tip of the iceberg) are worth thinking about for anyone who is interested in personal growth and development. Put them in more personal terms: Why do I keep falling for a guy or girl who puts me down? Why have I never been promoted at any job? Why am I always promoted? Why do I attend my church? Why am I conservative or liberal? Why am I the one people ignore? Why am I the one people lean on? And so on, and so on. If you don't question your own story, your myth, then you are living an unexamined life -- which could be your parent's life. Posing the really hard questions and parsing out your own unconscious participation can be truly difficult, but also liberating.

 

Two last thoughts: What about applying all those really hard questions to our current national and global consciousness-raising zeitgeist (that "culturally imposed imago")? Interesting times, indeed. Sit with that for a while; think about it. And remember the maxim to think globally and act locally. 

 

The other is a quote from Carl Jung's book The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche and the originator of all these concepts. He said: 

The reason why consciousness exists, and why there is an urge to widen it and deepen it, is very simple: without consciousness things go less well.

 

May things go well for you this week.

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