Through a Jungian Lens

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You Know That Life is Like a River

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Life is like a river

The song I used in one of my first lessons with each new set of students while teaching at the university in ChangZhou, was by Garth Brooks, The River. Using the song as a major part of a motivational set, the students were then able to open up more easily and speak of their own dreams and how they changed over their brief lives of childhood and youth. Dreams constantly change as life somehow twists and turns and sometimes doubles back on itself. But that said, there are some dreams that shape-shift to fit the constantly changing terrain of one’s life. The core of the dream remains, only the outer world expression of the dream changes.

But this post is looking at a different simile, the one in which life is compared with the river. Of course, as is the usual manner in which I approach almost anything I write here, this is not intended to be some sort of universal truth, but simply how I see it at this point and time in my life. And, just because I understand it this way at this moment, I can only speak from that position. Life is like a river. The image I chose for today’s post inspired that thought. This is a section of the Battle River which flows through two quarter sections that my eldest daughter and her husband own in east-central Alberta. I have seen this river at different levels depending on the season and the environmental conditions that exist between the source of the river and this particular point along the rivers journey.

At times, the river’s flow is restricted and slow as though there was not enough energy to free up water for the flow.  Something at the source has remained frozen for two long, or there was not enough winter snow to feed the river’s flow. I see that same thing happening in my life at times where my energy levels are lower and I move and think more slowly as a result. Other times, the river overflows its banks and floods the land making wholesale changes which often seem to appear to be more about damaging and destroying. But, when the river recedes back to its place between banks that have changed somewhat because of the flooding, new life appears on the flooded land. The flooding has enriched the land.  And like the physical river, life has a way of overwhelming us with “too much-ness.” Psychologically the unconscious floods us through an overabundance of dreams, or through activated complexes due to our interpersonal relationships becoming heated in any number of ways. In the end, when the dreams recede and our heads have a time to rest, we find that we have changed in some ways, hopefully we have become more conscious and thus better able to be in relationship with ourselves and with others.

But that said, there are no guarantees about anything. The changes could result in improved relationships, lost relationship and perhaps new relationships. The only thing to be certain of  is that everything changes. Attempting to hold on to what was is nothing but a neurotic response for what was no longer exists, what was has been transformed by the flow of life.


3 Responses

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  1. Dear Robert,
    Again a Post with a great picture and interesting issues to think about and then to fill it in one’s own life.
    Yes, the river sometimes doubles back on itself, and sometimes we are able to notice this in our life, but how many times we realize the fact, that although the river is doubling back it keeps flowing onward, …..into the future.

    Opa Bear

    May 19, 2012 at 2:27 am

    • Thank you, Opa, for these words. It just so happened that only moments after reading your comment this poem came to my attention:

      Love After Love – David Walcott

      The time will come
      when, with elation,
      you will greet yourself arriving
      at your own door, in your own mirror,
      and each will smile at the other’s welcome
      and say, sit here. Eat.

      You will love again the stranger who was your self.
      Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
      to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
      all your life, whom you have ignored
      for another, who knows you by heart.

      Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
      the photographs, the desperate notes,
      peel your own image from the mirror.
      Sit. Feast on your life.

      Derek Walcott, Collected Poems 1948-1984, New York, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1986.


      May 19, 2012 at 9:38 am

  2. Thank you Dear Friend !

    Opa Bear

    May 20, 2012 at 3:41 am

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