Archive for the ‘love at first sight’ tag
As most of my readers know, I take time in my life for meditation. A few of you also know that I am a naturist at heart. So, it is my preferred habit to combine both. Why did I choose this photo for today’s post? Well, for one thing, I want to share this excellent photo with you, a photo taken by my wife. She saw something in the way that the light was falling on me while I meditated and she tried to capture what she saw. She didn’t see nakedness, nor meditation. Rather, she saw a deeper meaning, one that said something about who I am in this modern world. She saw something and respected what she saw.
Relationships are difficult things. With two individuals who fall in love the initial image is one of projection. One sees an archetypal image that is bigger than any one person can ever hope to fill. As time passes and one begins to see this person without the archetype clouding vision, one must learn to respond to the reality of this person. Often we exclaim that this wasn’t the person we married. The truth is that this statement is a true statement. One marries a real person but one thinks one is marrying a different person, one that is created within one’s own psyche.
As the years pass, we begin the process of discovering the real person we have taken as a mate. As we note the reality and adjust, we change ourselves to fit with the other in an attempt to continue the relationship. Sometimes the changes are too much or go against the fundamental beliefs we hold of ourselves. When this happens the relationship enters stormy waters. We are forced to re-examine these fundamental beliefs and weigh them against the positives, and there are always positives, in the relationship.
If one is honest, then a relationship will always enter stormy waters. We must be honest with ourselves and with our partners. That honesty will point out the differences between each other and the differences we hold about the other than are causing personal discord. This honesty isn’t spoken with the intent of changing the other person as that can’t be realised and have the other person be true to their own nature. With honest there is an opportunity to see each other in a new light and consider how that resonates or complements what one honestly knows about oneself.
Attempts to change the other, demand change in the other, or force change on oneself for the other always ends in fracturing. Accepting the differences allows a relationship to continue and to grow. As the relationship grows, the strength of the individuals in the relationship also grows. The relationship becomes a sacred container within which both partners feel safe, the relationship becomes a holy marriage.
Today I have another rose photo, this time taken in Hong Mei Park yesterday. As I mentioned yesterday, the rose has a special significance to me because of my wife. While taking many rose photos yesterday, a good number of the photos had her in company with them. As much as I talk about the central relationship being with the self, it is impossible to come to grips with that primal and primary relationship without first engaging in relationship with an “other.” I don’t want to limit this “other” to a contrasexual definition as it isn’t so simple. Human psychology is never simple.
Each of us falls in love at some point. If we are lucky, the someone with whom we fall in love, reciprocates the same feeling thus allowing a relationship based on this initial impulse to love. In my case, it was love at first sight for both of us. If one only thinks about it for even a small moment, this doesn’t make any rational sense. How can two complete strangers fall in love simply by seeing the other person? What does one see in this circumstance? Certainly not the person. Jung calls it projection. Some others call it magic or fate. Regardless of what one calls it, the result is a marriage of two individuals. And by marriage, I mean a consensual agreement to live in a loving relationship with this significant other person, not necessarily legal arrangement. Whether or not the two lovers sign documents, the consensual agreement gives birth to a marriage.
It doesn’t take long to discover that this person with whom you have fallen in love and with whom you have engaged in marriage is a stranger, a mystery person. Reality has a way of forcing one to question who this “other” person really is. At that moment, a moment of psychic separation, one becomes a bit more conscious, not only of the other, but of one’s self. Interactions with this significant other leads to a constantly shifting sense of self, a deepening of self-awareness. Where this gaining of self-awareness is stalled, in situations where one remains entranced with the myth of the other not allowing the other to be human. Each gain is achieved only through the loss of an aspect of the original fiction – yet that loss doesn’t necessarily mean a loss of the other person, just a loss of a projection. A marriage can survive becoming conscious with the creation of a new relationship. Again, I want to bring a few words from James Hollis:
“the quality of all of our relationships is a direct function of our relationship to ourselves.” (Hollis, Eden Project, p. 13)
Know thyself and one can get to know the real person that one loves. It comes back to our desire to love, to be loved – especially for who we are, who we really are, warts and all. And when the passion dies, life seems to somehow shrivel and we shrivel within ourselves. And now, for a few final words for today’s post from Gao XingJian:
“you regret not chasing after her, you regret your lack of courage . . you regret losing the opportunity. . . You don’t even know how to go about starting a romance, you’re so weak you’ve lost your manliness, you’ve lost the ability to take the initiative. Afterwards, however, you decide to go to the riverside to try your luck.
. . .
Only you are left sitting in the pavilion, like an idiot, pretending to wait for an appointment which wasn’t made, with a woman who came and vanished, just as if you’re daydreaming. Could it be that you’re bored, that you’re fed up with your monotonous life devoid of passion and excitement and that you want to live again, to experience life itself again?” (Gao XingJian, Soul Mountain, p. 41)
I took this photo early yesterday afternoon as I was leaving town for a walk through the countryside. I really had no intention of taking a “flower” photo with my mind on other things, especially things that have to do with relationships. That is one of the problems with getting involved with a project that focuses on “inner world” themes; one brings a different view to the world. Yet when I saw the bee through the edges of my vision, the decision was made – just one photo then I would continue my walk.
It has been a while since I read Robert A. Johnson’s and Aldo Carotentuto’s works on attraction, books that resonate with the Sol and Luna theme I have been working on for the latest eBook. I am beginning to see that “relationship” is about being pulled to participate in the outer world as much as it is about is demands that one honours the pull to individuate.
As a man, I am drawn to a woman. In today’s world, and I place myself squarely in the centre of this world. The pull to relationship with another person is as much about instinct as it is about “romantic” love. I believe in romance. Falling in love is anything but a logical or objective process. For the most part, it is all about mystery. Some strange forces “pull” one into a state of awe.
“It is difficult to look objectively at romance; it is painful, for we fear that reality will drive out the love, and that life will then be cold and dismal. But one of the great needs of modern people is to learn the difference between human love as a basis for relationship, and romantic love as an inner ideal, a path to the inner world. Love does not suffer by being freed from the belief systems of romantic love. Love’s status will only improve as love is distinguished from romance.” (Johnson, We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love, pp 48-49)
So much to learn here. What does “falling in love” say about me, about the “inner” me? At what point does one let go of romantic love in a relationship in order to see if there is a love that remains for a true and deep relationship? Would there be less heartache if one didn’t cling so desperately to romantic love when the reality of the relationship asks for something different? So many questions and only each individual has a particular answer that lurks at the edges of consciousness.
This is a flower that I found on a dirt trail about three kilometres from the villa one morning. I was captured by the delicate nature of the flower, especially how it was in very close proximity, almost entangled with its mate. It reminded me of how a man an a woman are often entangled in each other sometimes to the point of being so enmeshed that they have trouble figuring out who is self and who is other. I guess one could say that they are so “into each other” that there is no room left for self awareness, for being conscious.
In the beginning, a relationship based on love is not a relationship built on consciousness. It is a relationship built on projections and hooks. Both man and woman see the “other” as the ideal that is buried within the unconscious, a projected anima/animus. For me, it was unquestionable, it was love at first sight. Three hours after meeting the woman I was to marry, I proposed and she accepted. What did I “know” about this woman? Nothing and everything; I knew nothing about her as a person, but I knew everything about her that somehow connected to a deep inner place within me. I didn’t need anything more other than the inner confirmation. I guess it was the same for her as she accepted my proposal immediately. Now, decades later we are working at trying to understand, trying to get to know the reality of the other. It is only now that a real relationship is being examined for its possibilities. That said, there is so much still in place that is based on unconscious responses based on complexes.
Young men and women cleave to each other on the whole for instinctive gratification, not because they are enamored of the loved one’s psychology. This may not be all bad, for at least it perpetuates the human race. But the truth is tha the heart-felt words, “I love you,” are generally motivated by physical desire, social standing and the like. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book Two, 2008, p. 89)
This is very evident in marriages between young people, but I am finding out here in Costa Rica, that it is no different for those in midlife who have come here alone and soon pair up with a local Costa Rican. The same was seen in China and Mexico. It is enough just to have someone to cling to in order to escape loneliness, to escape too much of being with the “self.” What I am seeing suggests most of the pairing is instinctual, a meeting of needs rather than a conscious assessment of the self and the other in order to establish a relationship based on both parties being conscious. The problems of relationship are not solved in clinging to a new partner if the relationship isn’t based on being conscious of what is going on within self and other. When the needs change and the blinders again fall off, relationship is again doomed. Patty Loveless sings about what remains when projections are withdrawn and one is faced with the stranger they married . . .
“She left the car in the driveway
She left the key in the door
She left the kids at her mama’s
And the laundry piled up on the floor
She left her ring on the pillow
Right where it wouldn’t be missed
She left a note in the kitchen
Next to the grocery list
It said, you don’t even know who I am
You left me a long time ago
You don’t even know who I am
So what do you care if I go
He left the ring on the pillow
He left the clothes on the floor
And he called her to say he was sorry
But he couldn’t remember what for
So he said I’ve been doing some thinking
I’ve been thinking that maybe you’re right
I go to work every morning
And I come home to you every night
And you don’t even know who I am
You left me a long time ago
You don’t even know who I am
So what do I care if you go
You don’t even know who I am
So what do I care if you go”
So, what to do when one feels misunderstood, when one’s needs are not being met, when the feeling is “you don’t even know who I am?” I guess the best place to start is with your “self.” It’s hard to blame the other when even the self is a stranger. Will this solve the problems and allow the relationship to be saved? Well, not necessarily. But, what is the alternative?
“On the whole, depth psychology . . . is suitable more for older couples whose relationships have foundered, run aground, precisely because of the lack of the partners’ self-knowledge. Even later education may not heal a broken relationship, but it can prepare both parties for another kick at the can, without blindfolds. After divorce or separation, they are indeed often ripe to know, open to learn, about the role played by their respective psychologies – typology, projection, complexes, shadow, animus and anima – in their unhappy situation.
I am not suggesting that marriage counseling is the answer, or even individual therapy, though often it is. Truth to tell, becoming conscious is responsible for quite as many break-ups as kiss-and-make-ups. When projections are taken back, there is often nothing or very little , to hold people together.” (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book Two, 2008, p. 89)
Ouch! Not too hopeful is it? I guess if nothing, it is about honesty, and that is worth quite a bit in itself. At least in becoming more conscious one one’s self, one is able to avoid most of the blind mistakes as one moves through what remains of life. It might not be as hopeless as it looks as it all depends on the willingness of both to become conscious and to re-approach each other consciously with the intention of fulfilling the promise of “for better or worse until death do we part.” For, as one learns, it is about balance, not perfection; it is about providing a safe place for both darkness and light within the relationship.
This is one of the scenes that presented itself to me this morning while having coffee on the front patio of our little villa in Playa Jaco. It reminded me of any number of conflicts between types, psychological/personality types, that I see being played out each day. Often when confronted with differences, we end up in conflict such as this Baltimore Oriole and Social Flycatcher. Just for the record, I do have very decent shots of both types of birds that are more pleasing and recognizable. But, this photo talks more to me in terms of active imagination.
At first look, it appears that the sixth chapter from Sharp’s book will provide me with material for a number of posts as it deals with psychological types. As I mentioned previously, each chapter in the book deals with a volume from the Collected Works (CW) of Carl Gustav Jung. Thus, the sixth chapter deals with volume six. I have previously talked about introversion and extroversion, the two attitudes, so I will leave that to the side for the moment and look at the four functions of personality – thinking, sensation, feeling and intuition. Before I go any further, I want to bring forth, Daryl Sharp’s quick compass pointing the the four functions that are present in everyone to some degree:
So, in any problematic situation, I ask myself four questions:
- What are the facts? (sensation)
- How are they linked? (thinking)
- What is it worth to me to pursue this? (feeling)
- What are the possibilities? (intuition) … (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, p. 63)
Just for the record, I am an introvert with my major functions being intuition (irrational function), followed by feeling (rational function). That makes my sensation function the weakest irrational function and thinking the weakest rational function. That said, I do have all four in place as does everyone else. Yet in spite of having all four functions available, I invariably respond consciously with intuition and feeling to most situations. Thinking and feeling become more unconscious responses thus causing me more work to bring them into play. My wife is an extrovert with her major functions being sensation and thinking. We are as about as opposite as one could hope to find. No wonder it was love at first sight for both of us.
More from Daryl Sharp:
In general, the extraverted man has an introverted anima, while the introverted woman has an extraverted animus, and vice versa. This picture can change through psychological work on oneself, but these inner images are commonly projected onto persons of the opposite sex, with the result that either attitude-type is prone to marry its opposite. This is likely to happen because each type is unconsciously complimentary to the other. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, p. 69)
And here I thought that I was special somehow, unique. I thought our relationship was unique. It turns out that it was basically totally predictable. I wonder if this was the key to many “arranged” marriages in the past? Anyway, back on topic. If you remember, I mentioned how opposites often find themselves in conflict; well, that is easier to understand in listening to what Jung had to say:
The two types therefore seem created for a symbiosis. The one takes care of reflection and the other sees to the initiative and practical action. When the two types marry they may effect an ideal union. (Jung CW 7, par 80; cited in Sharp, Jung Uncorked, p. 69)
There, I knew it – we came together to make the “ideal union.” But before I get too carried away with self-congratulations, there is much left unsaid, In spite of being in an ideal union, there is a lot that doesn’t feel so ideal about it. And, in looking at other unions, so many potentially ideal unions end up in divorce – What’s going on? Once the kids grew up and found their own life journeys, things seem to have become more complicated rather that simpler.
But when . . . external necessity no longer presses, then they have time to occupy themselves with one another. Hitherto they stood back to back and defended themselves against necessity. But now they turn to face and look for understanding – only to discover that they have never understood one another. Each speaks a different language. Then the conflict between the two types begins. This struggle is envenomed, brutal, full of mutual depreciation, even when conducted quietly and in the greatest intimacy. For the value of the one is the negation of the other. (ibid)
Disaster strikes if one has not become more aware of the “self” and has learned to respect personal shadow. With both partners becoming more psychologically aware, there comes a shift from unconscious response to an aware response. Remember the four questions above? Well, this is where they can come to the rescue when the natural and first response is unconscious. As soon as one recognizes that “heat” has entered the relationship, it becomes time to step back and pose these questions to the self. Try it, the results may surprise you.
At the northern end of Playa Jacó, my wife sits on the rocks with the Pacific Ocean in the background. Sunset is on its way. We began our story together in a world-wind of emotion, a true-life tale in which I proposed to her within hours of meeting her. She accepted the proposal immediately. That was thirty-nine years ago. Though we were complete strangers, something moved within each of us as projections were put out on both sides landing on ready hooks. Today, she isn’t the woman I married. Today, I’m not the man she married. Hard work, tears, shared joys and a willingness to look at ourselves when things don’t go right in order to find out what “we” did, not what the “other” did – this is how we have made it so far. And the journey isn’t over yet so the ending is unknown, as it should be.
If a man cannot get along with his wife, he naturally thinks the conflict would be solved if he married someone else. When such marriages are examined they are seen to be no solution whatever. The old Adam enters upon the new marriage and bungles it just as badly as he did the earlier one. A real solution comes only from within and then only because the patient has been brought to a different attitude. (Jung, CW 4, par. 606)
Carl Gustav Jung has it nailed on the head. You can’t fix anything if you only do half of a job. It’s easy to blame the “other” person in a relationship, blame them for not living up to our fantasy, our projections. It’s hard to do the work on one’s self to see if the relationship will improve with self-knowledge increased. There is a risk of course. The risk might be that when projections are withdrawn, this might not be the person needed for a full and healthy relationship. But the risk of not doing this work is worse. For then, no matter how many relationships we manage to engage in, we will still have a blindness to our own contributions for relationship dysfunction.
I found this huge spider’s web at the south end of the beach. I thought that it would serve a good purpose here in terms of talking about projections. After all, most projections that get us into trouble are those that get caught in hooks. That said, it is impossible to exist and not become both. As I found in one good story I am reading during my holiday here in Costa Rica,
… we have to do a thing in order to find out the reason for it. Sometimes our actions are questions, not answers. (John le Carré, A Perfect Spy, 1986, p. 37)
There is something critical to acknowledge here, that in living and experiencing, we need to follow up the experiences with questions in an attempt to understand ourselves through our actions, especially when our actions don’t seem to be fully logical.
For example, love at first sight. I know that this is fully about projection. I experienced this at the age of fifteen when I was travelling with my family. We stopped at a restaurant and gas station in the northern wilds of Ontario heading towards Ottawa. At that time, near the supper hour, we were the only customers. Behind the counter was a young girl about my age. I looked at her and immediately fell in love. I didn’t know a thing about her. I could see in her eyes that she was as taken as I was in that moment. An hour later, the car moved on to continue going east. And that moment was forever seared into my brain. A part of me was left there like some fly being caught on a web.
Continuing on with Sharp’s book, in chapter four, Sharp talks about projections:
I think projection is everything, the alpha and omega of relationship. There is hardly a man or a woman in the world, from the halt, the lame and the blind to the most beautiful, who cannot spark someone’s love or hate through the psychological phenomenon of projection – often to the later bewilderment of one or both. This is neither good or bad; it is simply life as we know it, and behind it stand all our complexes, the triggers that cuase us to be attracted to, or repulsed by, another person . (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, 2008, p. 36-7)
We definitely are caught in these projections. yet, like the spider, we are actively spinning the webs, unconsciously creating the triggers for projection. And in doing all of this, we open ourselves up to become hooks to be caught ourselves, in the webs of others.
On a recent visit to the Dzibilchaltun Mayan ruins, I had the opportunity to photograph a few of these beautiful birds. This was my second siting of this type of bird here in Mexico. I had to chase this bird to finally get a decent shot with the camera. I guess it likes to play hard to get/catch. And, this makes me think of eros, romantic love, a passionate longing and desire. The Greeks called it theia mania, the divine madness (madness of the gods). In our modern world we talk of cupid’s arrows, love at first sight both of which when looked at closely are about loss of control to other. We become wounded. The tail of this motmot does give the impression of being fletched arrows ready to wound another with eros. In a small series of books (He, She, We and The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden), Robert A. Johnson looks at eros. In this last book, The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden, Robert notes:
“Where there is no terminology, there is no consciousness. A poverty-stricken vocabulary for any subject is an immediate admission that the subject is inferior or depreciated in that society. Sanskrit has ninety-six words for love; ancient Persian has eighty; Greek three; and English simply one. This is indicative of the poverty of awareness or emphasis that we give to that tremendously important realm of feeling. … Of all the Western languages, English may be the most lacking when it comes to feeling” (page 6)
No wonder we get confused in trying to define love. And without the words, we suffer.