Through a Jungian Lens

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Divergence Between Nature and Choice

with 3 comments

“Our lives are tragic only to the degree that we remain unconscious of both the role of the autonomous complexes and the growing divergence between our nature and our choices. Most of the sense of crisis in midlife is occasioned by the pain of that split. The disparity between the inner sense of self and the acquired personality becomes so great that the suffering can no longer be suppressed or compensated.” [Hollis, The Middle Passage, p. 15]

These are hard words to hear, to honestly hear when one arrives at that place in life where one begins to question who they are and what they are doing here on planet Earth from the singular and personal perspective. As conscious beings, we are aware of being homo sapiens and that we are actively engaged in the survival of the species. But, that isn’t enough of an answer when midlife demands that we look beyond the surface of living. As soon as one begins to sense the divide between the life being lived and some other life that is tied up with a different sense of who we are as humans, we are caught in a angst that demands that we do something to solve the divide.

So now what? Most recoil from the mess that lays buried beneath the surface which compares so unfavourably with the life we have lived, with our successes, our gathering of people to surround us and define us, and our accumulations of property and material goods that tell everyone we have indeed made good choices with good results. Perhaps, we reason, we need more of the same, or perhaps we need to reinvigorate ourselves as though we were again young adults. New relationships might serve to reinvigorate; or perhaps new toys, new acquisitions, new and more power. And if that fails, perhaps a good drunk or mind-numbing addictions such as food, exercise, sex, work, drugs . . .

My response to this question, “So now what?” lies in peeling off the layers of protection that have been covering what I believed to be my fragile real self. Beneath the roles, beneath the education and skills, beneath even my clothes lies a self that has been wanting to be heard and lived unknown to me. I had invested in my family, career, and community willingly and have reaped a good harvest with children, grandchildren, enough material goods and property to meet and exceed what anyone truly needs. The first half of life as an adult has been all that I could have ever hoped for. That said, I can’t deny that in doing all of this living in the outer world in order to fit into that outer world, that there was a cost.

Now, in the second half, I find myself driven to honour the needs and demands of my soul, my inner world. How can I do this? As I see it, it is by bringing what has been hidden, consciously and unconsciously denied a place in my outer life up from the inner depths where they had been banished. Resurrected, they allow me to finally feel a sense of wholeness, even holiness in a curious kind of way.

What will this look like? How will it be made evident in my life? As I see it, my writing here, my poetry, my writing novels that are thinly disguised journeys of a soul reaching up from the dark confines of the unconsciousness, serve as part of how the divide between inner self and acquired personality are being bridged. There is more yet to come, and for that all I can say is simply to “watch me.”


Written by Robert G. Longpré

January 25, 2014 at 6:57 am

3 Responses

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  1. all real change is painful; all real change has sacrifice – or so I tell my patients when they are pussyfooting around in their therapy


    January 25, 2014 at 5:41 pm

  2. Dear Robert,

    Stripping away the consensus reality, that comfortable (perhaps) head trip in which we feel part of the human system – our “tonal” culture, as Don Jaun put it, leaves us on the one hand isolated and alone. and on the other totally enveloped – whether we realise it or not – in and by the reality of what we truly are. Just as we were when we were born, except now for the conscious skills we have gained through life. Of these skills, the only ones we will find useful are those which reciprocate what we find within ourselves as “law” – be it biologically derived or arising from some metaphysical truth of our nature which we can only accept as real for its affects and its power over our life.
    The question then is, what is left to us – what is now worthy beyond chopping wood, carrying water and tending the garden of the world for its sustenance?
    I believe the answer is in giving voice to what moves within us – that we prove our humaness beyond those capacities by which we survive as an mere animal.
    Giving voice to the unconscious, giving form to the formless we justify our existence by participation in the great and continuing act of creation.
    It is nothing other than the operation, the function, the endless effusion of love. And it seems to me (even if beyond our microcosmic reality, there lie wonders outside our imagining) that, in this incarnation of truth we call being a person, there is nothing else.

    Robert G Heyward

    January 25, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    • “what is left to us – what is now worthy beyond chopping wood, carrying water and tending the garden of the world for its sustenance?” Well, Robert, I have to agree with your answer to your own question: “giving voice to what moves within us.” This is what I find myself doing, giving voice. Thank you.


      February 4, 2014 at 9:44 pm

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