Through a Jungian Lens

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Hidden In Plain View

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I was fortunate to be able to spend a few more days with my brother-in-law, Michael, this past week-end.  The time spent with him was mostly spent out-of-doors wandering through brush and alongside ponds.  I’ve written about Michael before, a man who suffers from Alzheimer’s.  He doesn’t remember the names of any of the birds and has difficulty with a lot of basic concepts, but he loves nature.  As we wandered through park-like settings, I took photos and he did his best to straighten out the broken twigs that lay on our path.  He also pointed out birds and the creek so that I would take photos of them.  Each time he did so, I would show him the photo taken so that he could have a sense of doing something important, of being capable of something.  This butterfly photo was one of the things he noticed.

Appearances are important.  As much as we downplay the significance of appearances, we all invest a lot in appearances for we know that when in community, being noticed is vital to our health.  As I write this a thought of an incident from about twenty years ago reminds me more forcefully of this fact.

As a teacher, I worked hard to share my time and attention with all of my students.  However, in one large class, about a month into the term, one of my female students asked me why I never asked her any questions.  I remember looking at her and thinking with surprise that I didn’t even know that she was in my class.  As I looked, it dawned on me that she was one of those students that hid in the shadows, almost invisible, so as to avoid the notice of her peers.  The quiet ones like her, if noticed would be tormented by her peers.  It was then that I learnt that to become invisible is to suffer a worse torment.  It was a valuable lesson for me to learn.

So now, I search, not only for the obvious, but also for that which is hidden in plain view.  For, when the hidden is brought to light, a distinctive beauty, a priceless treasure is discovered.  What is hidden in the unconscious, yet not so hidden as one thinks thanks to dreams and active imagination, can add so much depth and value to one’s life.

One could easily have someone like Michael banished to the invisible fringes.  However, lucky for me, he adds so much more depth to my life.

Just as man as a social being, cannot in the long run exist without a tie to the community, so the individual will never find the real justification for his existence, and his own spiritual and moral autonomy, anywhere except in an extramundane principle capable of relativizing the overpowering influence of external factors.”  (Jung, The Undiscovered Self)


One Response

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  1. Great reminder of important things, here, Robert.


    May 20, 2010 at 9:48 am

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