Through a Jungian Lens

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Paths of Least Resistance

with 2 comments

I took this photo this late this afternoon while waiting to catch the bus back to Playa Jacó from Quepos, after a day spent in Manuel Antonio National Park here in Costa Rica.  This is a real-world photo, a people photo.  There is no highs or lows evident, just ordinariness.  And that is important too.  I guess that you could say that these people are simply going along with what life presents them not seeing their lives as highs or lows.  They go along with the flow, their flow.

The line of least resistance does not signify eo ipso the avoidance of pain so much as the just balancing of pain and pleasure.  Painful activity by itself leads to no result but exhaustion.  A man must be able to enjoy life, otherwise the effort of living is not worth while.  (Jung, CW 4, par 642; cited in Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, p. 42)

As I travel the world, I see so many doing just this, balancing pain and pleasure somehow.  It seems to me that they are able to be simply where they are, ignoring the larger world with lits larger ambitions, greeds, things – stuff that could make them sense the “lack” in their own lives in comparison, a sense that would lead to its own trauma.  The follow the path of least resistance to the world in which they find themselves.

I saw an example of this in Manuel Antonio where a group of three young men were trying to do their business, a frustrating one of trying to rent out beach chairs and shade umbrellas.  Business wasn’t great for them even though it was a busy area and a hot and sunny day.  While I watched, they walked close to where I was sitting in the shade of a clump of trees and shared a joint.  They chatted, coughed and laughed until the joint was gone.  Then, they walked back to their separate stations on the beach hoping once again for customers willing to pay 2,000 colones for a beach chair.  They were living a balancing act and that was as it should be.

I wish that I could say I do the same, but not always so.

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2 Responses

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  1. Why would you want to identify with idle drug users? You’ve got more colones than that, eh?

    Laura Brown

    January 15, 2010 at 1:59 am

    • I think that there is a misunderstanding, Laura. Since I was talking about being able to balance pleasure and pain, the ability to balance rather than get weighted down on the pain side is what I was referring to here. The modern western world ego is all about no pain, no gain in work and in play. Where one is at is never good enough, one must bust a gut to get ahead, to get more. I hope that this is of some help. I blame my too brief writing for causing this unintentional idea that I admire drug users. That said, alcohol, cigarettes, recreational and prescribed drugs are a way of life for the much admired in modern society – as long as they aren’t some lowlife drug users – LOL!

      Robert G. Longpré

      January 15, 2010 at 12:38 pm


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