Through a Jungian Lens

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Building My Own Boat

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A nest that likley was home to paper wasps – Canmore, Alberta 2012

Life is a hornet’s nest if one truly lives rather than simply existing waiting for someone to come to the rescue.

As I read what I have just written, I realise that I have said something that is rather dogmatic as if it was a universal truth rather than my understanding of my own truth. That is the problem with words. Once they are put on paper [or on the screen], they become solid as a rock. However, the words, like rocks, are transitory things. I have to remind myself that the authors of all words, including C.G. Jung, are simply painting self-portraits, maps of their own journeys.

I have often fell under the power of their stories, their journeys through their inner landscapes and came to adopt their landscapes as my landscapes. I was entranced with their words that resonated with things inside of myself, so entranced that I failed to notice the words that didn’t resonate, words that didn’t reveal the stirrings within myself. For a time I was deeply Catholic ignoring the realities of the Church and its priests that took on ghostly and shadowy shapes; I was entranced by the life of Jesus. For a time I was an ardent environmentalist in love with the earth not seeing the contradictions and the power-plays and sometimes even the nihilism of those who were entrusted with my faith and that of others. For a time I was Jungian hanging on every word that I found in the Collected Works, even those words which seemed to skip passed me leading to confusion. For a time I was a Buddhist embracing the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-Fold Path in spite of monks, rinpoches and darhma that seemed the stuff of fairy tales, tales that had no connection to my own tales.

It is only with the crisis that came with midlife that I began to understand that I could never be any of these. I began to understand that rather than embracing a church, a faith, a psychology, a philosophy or a science; I had to build my own story, my own ship within which I could navigate the last of my numbered years as a living human. Yet, I knew that I had to hold near all those words that touched me and told me about myself. Yes, I am unique, an individual living my own story. I captain my own ship, walk my own trails. However, I do so in a sea of trails and in the company of others ships sailing the same ocean of unconsciousness.

Jung is reported to have said, sometime in the 1930’s, when he was beginning to be famous, something like this: “The trouble is that I have built myself a boat with which to ride the flood, and now people are trying to climb into my boat rather than build their own”. (quoted from David Holt here)

Now, I can rephrase the opening statement with a hope that it can be better understood:

Life is like a hornet’s nest if I truly live rather than simply existing waiting for someone to come to my rescue. There are stings that let me know that I am alive. There is a container called my life that is fragile, a container that finishes off blowing in the wind only to disappear back into the dust of beginnings and endings. Life is precious moment in an infinite universe of time and space. 


6 Responses

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  1. Thanks for your reflections, they resonate through out the world, even down under! Cheers – Bob.

    Bob cvetkovic

    October 19, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    • Sorry to delay my response to you, Bob. I have been under the weather and finding no energy to engage as much as I want to. I am very glad that you took the time to read and then comment. I look forward to hearing again from you.


      October 25, 2012 at 6:25 pm

  2. I have not heard the ‘boat’ quotation before, but I like it a lot.


    October 20, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    • I was unaware of that quote before it “appeared” to me from a different and unexpected source. I agree with it being a good one. Thanks good doctor.


      October 25, 2012 at 6:26 pm

  3. Dear Friend,
    Thank you for this Post.
    I like to add something to your interesting Post about writing words that are to be read by the writer or somebody else after they are written.
    I think that another ingredient can be added to in order to appreciate, involved or be touched by written words.
    This phenomenon or ingredient could be the “mood” that one is in when writing or reading – or as you wrote, “stirrings within myself”.
    It is commonly known, that when reading a book that did not seem to interesting when the reader started reading – somewhere in the book the reader is caught and deeply involved by the words, possibly even so deeply involved that the reader becomes unaware of their surroundings.
    In my experience, when writing something special (in my eyes) – I am in a special mood.
    When I finished writing (and I am still in this mood), I can appreciate my writing (feel the intentions of my words).
    When this mood have left me when I finished writing and I start to read the words, they sound hollow and like rocks to me.
    So I think that when somebody is caught, involved and touched by words that are written by somebody else, it could be, that the reader is in the same mood as the mood that the writer was in.
    Should this be so, then it could be interesting for me to investigate further, as it is connected to our shared collective – and for me it sure gives your words : “Life is like a hornet’s nest if I truly live rather than simply existing waiting for someone to come to my rescue” – a deeper meaning.

    Opa Bear

    October 21, 2012 at 3:40 am

    • Your words, as always, add so much here, Opa. I treasure the resonances and ripples finding that they tell me more about my own words, often in contrast. Thank you dear friend.


      October 25, 2012 at 6:28 pm

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