Through a Jungian Lens

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Becoming Aware of Being Alone

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Seniors in XiTang sitting alone with company, April 2011

As I began yesterday, so I continue today – with relationship.  And as with yesterday, I want to continue with a focus on one’s relationship with one’s self.  As a parent, I watched my children grow from newborns.  I saw them as fully unconscious and saw them begin to meet the world, and themselves.  Perhaps the biggest discovery made is that the self is separate from the rest of the world – separate from the mother and father that on the other side of sight.  I’ve watched as toes and fingers were discovered and then used as tools to discover more of the world.  The learning curve is steep and takes quite a few years before there is some comfort with the fact that self is separate and safe in that separation.

The approach of self awareness and self consciousness precipitates another journey where there is a search for meaning, trying to make some sense of one’s existence, a search for being happy to be oneself.  I may have been one of the slower ones in this regard as this part of my journey didn’t start until I was seventeen years old.  I  admit that flashes of this upcoming journey were felt like speed bumps during my youth, but immersion into this stage of the journey waited until I was in my senior high school years.  Hungry for some answers, I found that teachers and extended family members had no suggestions other than to pay attention in class or to engage in distracting activities.  So I looked elsewhere for some answers – looked to dead philosophers, theologians and psychologists.  I knew that someone else had to have the answers that I needed.  Of course, no one did have the answers about who I was or why I was.

I was in community, in a family, in school with classmates and teachers, in a music group playing with a fierceness that was determined to define myself as an artist, as one of the group.  Yet even in the little band of five, each of us were separated regardless of how many hours we practiced noisily or how many hours we drove around the streets of Ottawa as a way to pass some of the hours, or the hours hanging out in each other’s company between classes at school.

The band broke up, high school classes ended, I got a job and the world that I had come to know disappeared.  Though we promised to keep in touch, the relationships with others came to an end and again I was alone with my self, still a stranger to my self.  I don’t know if any of us ever get over finding that regardless of how many friends or family members, one ends up alone in the crowd, somehow unable to bridge the distance between self and other.  As I looked at these seniors sitting outside a senior residence in XiTang, not too far from the entrance into the restored ancient part of the city, I can’t help but wonder if they are sitting alone with themselves in spite of the others sitting near them.

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Written by Robert G. Longpré

April 28, 2011 at 9:22 am

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