Eighty-Seven Words in Eighteen Years

It was a long sentence. I read and then reread it. It was the opening sentence. Today was my first day studying this book. It wasn’t unknown to me. I remembered when I bought my first copy of it, in 1999, at a bookstore in downtown Seattle that no longer existed. An image of me holding the volume in both hands on a crowded downtown sidewalk suddenly became so real that I was forced to realize that this moment happened eighteen years ago. That opening sentence contained eighty-seven words. The author was a psychiatrist, not a novelist. It was widely accepted among those interested and perhaps not so interested in the writings of this Swiss thinker that he was difficult to read. I’d often told myself that the complexity of C.G. Jung’s intuitive thinking attracted me most to his work. Eighteen years had passed since I’d embarked on an intellectual and spiritual journey with the twenty volumes of Jung’s Collected Works and several more volumes of his writings. And today, for the first time, I counted the number of words in one of his sentences. I wasn’t a scholar. Perhaps I secretly desired to become one. These sentences seemed to suggest that I was in the process of becoming one, whether I was aware of it or not. In a recent dream, which I’d recounted on the psychoanalytic couch where I tried to say whatever came to mind several times a week, my psychoanalyst, who in reality and in my imagination was much more Freudian than Jungian, was a Jungian scholar. Maybe I projected onto her what I myself wished to become. The long opening sentence demanded to be reread once more. The minutes that this took me felt much longer. Something important happened in my mind. Two words in that long sentence spoke to me. They seemed to suggest that I should turn to another page in the book where the same words appeared. I did. And on that other page those two words were part of several sentences that spoke to me in a similar way as the first long one. The book was next to me on the desk. I was deep inside myself without realizing it. Then I reminded myself that it wasn’t 1999.

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