Another Beginning in the Light of Day

Can this be my mind right now? Seconds stop. Time travels. I’m frustrated with person X, and with Y and Z. I’m uncertain whether or not I want to attend an upcoming lecture on myth sponsored by the local Jung society. Everything feels uncertain. The experience might be calmer if I were meditating. My decades of life on this planet feel as if time has decided that they’re unnecessary for future thought. I feel paralyzed, as if bodily and mental movements were no longer possible. I’m stuck in a dark tunnel. What if I never experience another beginning in the light of day?

The anxiety I feel in my body tells me that all of these mind movements are real. My imagination is real. I imagine myself as a fisherman of mysteries deep inside of me, most of which will probably never see the light of consciousness. I fish in my imagination because my pen keeps moving across the page, because of the images, feelings, and thoughts that never stop reminding me that I’m alive.

Fishing for the unknown within me becomes a moral activity. I feel as if I’m searching for the unborn inside of myself (or maybe it’s searching for me), whose birth must happen in consciousness.

The dark tunnel is behind me. There will always be anxiety in my future. Yet I’m experiencing another beginning, in the light of day.

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Sadness in Truth

(What follows is written in the form of a journal entry.)

An imaginative experience happened inside of me this afternoon while I prepared myself a cheese sandwich for lunch. I wished I’d eaten earlier. It was two o’clock, and I’d spent more minutes than I was willing to count at my desk unable to imagine or think. I was in the kitchen, preparing the sandwich, glancing at the Olympic Mountains in the distance, when the thought came to me: there’s a better way to prepare for the conversation tomorrow that you don’t want to have. Imagine her. Before my thinking could interfere with the creative process, I found myself picturing her in the coffee shop where three of us will meet at noon to talk about a problem we’re trying to solve together. She was sad in my imagination, not angry or frustrated with me. I knew that this image of her, sipping coffee, spoke the truth. She didn’t want to criticize me.

The image seemed to speak emotional truth. Tomorrow hasn’t happened yet, so it’s possible that my recurring thoughts warning me of an uncomfortable conversation will be right. Yet the reading I’ve done today suggests I should listen to my imagination.

I have discovered or rediscovered the psychological thinker James Hillman, whose writings remind me that my mind is an imaginative place. Hillman was born in 1926 and died in 2011. In the late 1990s I read The Soul’s Code for a course in the master’s degree in psychology I was completing. For reasons that I don’t wish to try to imagine now, I didn’t remember much of the book after reading it. I remember thinking that I enjoyed it. Two images of me twenty years ago come to mind. In the first, I’m reading Hillman’s book. In the second, I throw it into the water. The second image is full of energy.

A reading journal has finally become a reality in my life. The notes I’ve been taking on Hillman’s writings have helped me return to Carl Jung’s Collected Works, which have been with me on my shelves for more years than I wish to count. I’m sad. Perhaps I’ll imagine my sadness. First I must walk to the kitchen to prepare myself a coffee.

Shared Secrets

These are my first words on paper in a new writing room. A moment ago I counted the number of days a year I might sit here, and I thought: twenty or thirty days isn’t enough. During the past two years, I’ve spent little time inside when I’ve been at this cabin. I’ve worked with my hands outside. I enjoy being outside here, in the cold, in the rain, in the sunshine. Right now, in what up to two years ago was my parent’s bedroom, I’m seated at a side table that I took from the living room. There’s room for a cup of coffee and a book or two (I always have one or more within reach while I write). I hold this journal in my hands as I write in it. The two windows in front of me with views of a harbor across the water, a small mountain, and lots of trees help me feel at home in my mind while I’m uncertain about a possible new writing idea.

At around seven this morning I left the cabin, walked a short distance on the dirt road that encircles the island, and then entered the Nature Preserve, which occupies much of the center of the island. Near the end of my walk in the woods, an idea came to me: I could write a series of fictional vignettes on a particular theme, with the title, Thoughts between the two of us. An anxious thought followed: I shouldn’t write about that. My experiences with my psychoanalyst are our shared secrets.

It’s strange creating sentences where my parents slept. Dreaming comes to mind. The other place in this cabin for me to write is the loft, where we sleep under a skylight, and I’ve tried this over the past two years, and something was missing. What’s missing now is what I’ve yet to write. The series of vignettes I’ve thought of writing wouldn’t be about what happens in my psychoanalytic sessions. They would be about how the work with Mary affects what happens in my mind throughout the day. She’s on my mind right now.

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A fictional version of my psychoanalyst has appeared in my mind. I’m seated at the small table with the beautiful view of water and trees. I wish there were fewer boats on the water. My father designed this space where I’m working with pen and paper. This cabin was his one project as an architect that was his own. He is a practical person. There are a couple of things about the way this cabin was designed that I don’t like, and they are practical things. I hope to learn more about my father from his design. Growing up, I didn’t think of both of us as creative persons. I imagine that Mary studies psychoanalytic sessions. She’s passionate about it. A somewhat fictional version of me would be the narrator of this vignette. So far I believe I haven’t written anything fictional about myself. Or maybe I have. Fiction might be present in these sentences without my knowing it. The following sentence is fictitious, or at least part of it is not true in reality. Four times a week I walk forty minutes from home, where I work, to her downtown office. Some days I don’t know why I’m lying on her couch for fifty minutes, attempting to do what seems impossible: to say everything that comes to mind. Being in psychoanalysis often doesn’t seem practical. Yet I sense I am changing, slowly, as a result of the work.

Perhaps what I’ve just written about lying on a couch, trying to do the impossible, is also fictional. My psychoanalyst studying psychoanalytic sessions might be true. She’s in search of the truth in me that she and I discover together. There’s also the truth in her that, according to a psychoanalytic theory that I think she believes is true – the only thing I know about her with certainty, even with a Google search, is that as part of her psychoanalytic training she has experienced psychoanalysis on the couch – she might also discover during our work together.

Writing in this way disorientates me at times, which is often how I feel on the couch. Like my narrator, I experience my mind on the couch four times a week. Since our first session two Julys ago, I experience much more of what happens in my mind moment to moment than I did before. Sometimes I’m frightened to realize how few facts I’m aware of in my head at any given moment. Fantasy seems a significant part of how I think.

The sunshine, the water, the trees, and all the noise of boats on the water are real. I’m eager to go outside, to work more with my hands. I need a break from working in my head. If only it were possible.