Archive for the ‘fences’ tag
Fences on the prairies are most often not too substantial – an occasional post and three widely spaced wires. yet for their flimsiness, they are effective in keeping one in or out according to the intention of the fence builder. Well, sort of effective. The truth is if I want to get to the other side of the fence all I have to do is to hold the top wire down and step over; or, I could separate two wired and slip through the larger opening. The fence does work for the most part as a rancher can keep his cattle from wandering off a certain piece of land into valuable crop land. In certain circumstances an electric wire is also strung along the posts in order to better contain the cattle and even horses. However, small animals ignore the fence as do deer. It’s as if the fence doesn’t even exist. The fence is more of a psychological barrier than it is a physical barrier.
We build fences in our heads as well trying to keep our secrets safe from others. We even build fences within to hide stuff from ourselves. We bury the dark things we want to deny under layer upon layer of barbed wire, behind high solid walls that are layers deep. But for all of our efforts, the hidden finds ways to slip out unknown to our conscious ego. Often we don’t even realise that something has slipped out. It is only when others around us question our statements or actions that we find ourselves first denying doing these things and then wondering “Where did that come from?”
For the most part, the walls are thick enough, high enough that we can spend almost a lifetime believing the hidden, contained stuff doesn’t even exist. But, the shadow can only be contained so much. The pressure builds and things begin to leak out. The first place these aspects of the shadow show up is in our dreams. Jungian analysts and other therapy models use dream work as a way to have us discover not only the nasty dark stuff but also the hidden treasures that we pushed away because they got in the way of our being in the world in a way we thought was safest and best. But dreams aren’t the only escape route taken by the shadow.
If one looks at one’s relationships, one sees shadow projected onto others. Our responses to others are often triggered by what the self sees as its shadow. Imagine the confusion that others face when they are held in too high or too low esteem given the circumstances of engagement. A man treats a woman as a goddess and places her on a pedestal. It is a position that no mortal woman can hold for too long before getting angry as the pedestal doesn’t give her needed freedom to be herself. A man treats another woman as an evil witch though having no basis in the objective world for so treating her. In both situations, the man is projecting his repressed anima, his soul both dark side and light side onto others, others who are just as human, just as flawed and perfect as the man unconsciously projecting his inner, hidden and contained complexes.
The higher and thicker the walls of containment, the bigger the explosion and disruption of our outer life. The work of therapy is to begin discovering the fences and carefully taking them down so that the stuff contained can make its appearance in a safer environment. Making its appearance, aspects of the shadow, the unconscious can be integrated into a healthier version of self.
A second post for today. Does it mean I am bored? Does it mean I am spending way too much time on the computer? Dumb questions, actually. Earlier in the day while outside trimming the cedars at the front of the house so that they don’t clog up the eavestroughs, I passed this rose a few times. When finished with my task, I went for the camera and took this photo. Why? At that time I didn’t really know why. It is just another flower in our yard, not even one of ours, but one that had poked itself through an opening in the fence. Usually, I just honour the feeling when there is an unconscious hint that I need to take a photo.
Now, several hours later, before returning to writing on the book about my father-in-law, I think it is time to post the photo and whatever words that emerge. In a way, it’s all about stream of consciousness – an opportunity for active imagination.
You see, this flower doesn’t belong in the yard. It belongs in my neighbour’s yard with the rest of the roses on the large plant. The fence board has hidden the rose plant from these three roses. At this point, they must trust that they are still connected though the outer evidence suggests that they are strangers in a strange land. Regardless of the evidence, they do remain tied to the collective.
This is the same for each of us. Though we feel isolated, insular, sometimes abandoned, we are connected through the unconscious to everyone else. Though some dare to individuate, to move in a different direction than the rest of our community, the herd who move unthinkingly as one for the most part; that act of daring to be different isn’t about being selfish. It is about self-discovery and in that process, discovering our roots and links to the collective that need to be honoured through service. As one becomes more conscious, the community becomes more conscious – as long as we don’t end up hiding in some cave on a mountain or in some temple in Tibet. We must resist isolating ourselves though we become set apart by those around us who don’t understand us. At least in these modern times we aren’t burnt at the stake or crucified for being different, consciously different.
Now, I have a load of fencing being delivered so as to build a new fence on the opposite side of the yard.
I wonder what it is about fences? I found this one interesting as though there was an attempt to contain a part of the sky, to declare this part off limits. Life seems to be like that at times when we tell our spirits “this area is off limits. Stay out!”
Of course, I am as guilty as many others when I set limits on what I can and can’t do. Typically, it is about saying that I am smaller than I really am, saying that I have less worth than is real. I know I am not alone with this way of acknowledging self.
But then, when I look at the barbed wire of the fence, I think about the warning “to all who dare enter here.” Entering into this space will definitely be painful. Becoming too much “spirit” will cost the body its vitality. Becoming too much spirit will cost in terms of connection with others. This reminds me of St. John of the Cross and an assortment of monks of the middle ages who sought lives of purity, denying their very bodies for their grossness, burning with religious fervour entranced with the light.
I won’t deny body and its animalistic and instinctual needs, it messiness. The body is a work of art and deserves respect and good care. And in this one can go overboard as well, travelling the opposite track of the aesthetic monks, worshipping the body at the expense of the soul. It isn’t supposed to be either/or.