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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Animal Intensity in a Reader

All afternoon while I worked on various things at my desk, I imagined deleting a sentence from my last post, “Holy Books in the Psychology Section,” in which I compared one of Carl Jung’s thick volumes to a dog needing a walk. I don’t have a dog. I haven’t walked one since I was in high school. I’m a cat person. Yet I felt that this particular sentence needed to be written.

I prepared myself an afternoon coffee. I returned to my desk. And I couldn’t focus on the editing work I must finish today. Instead, I imagined a black dog with a black hardcover of Jung’s writings on psychology and religion clenched between his teeth. I wash my hands before I touch one of my books, so it’s hard for me to focus on this image.

Evening has arrived and I’ve yet to delete the sentence mentioned above. I also haven’t finished my editing work. After I finished my afternoon coffee, I was able to focus on the editing again, and I thought I was almost done when I imagined the dog as a religious symbol. Along with a snake, it was guarding a sacred treasure (this image came to mind from what I read in a paragraph of Jung’s Symbols of Transformation). I thought: I don’t have time to connect with an inner dog. I must finish my day’s work.

My work is done. I’m going to have a glass of wine before I go to bed. The image of the black dog with Jung’s book clenched between his teeth feels important to my reading future. I picture myself clutching a volume of Jung and reading with what I imagine as animal intensity, as if my body were more involved in the reading than my mind.

Holy Books in the Psychology Section

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

There has been room for two psychological thinkers on my reading table during the past few days. I’m imagining one of them, who in reality died seven years ago, sending me an email, asking me to leave my desk on this sunny January afternoon and meet him at the nearby Elliott Bay Book Company in the Mythology section (I admit that I don’t know whether the store has such a section). “I have much to show you,” he writes. I wish I could take a break from work and walk to the bookstore. I’m curious to know where the books on mythology are kept.

Perhaps I will leave home soon and walk in nearby Volunteer Park. I imagine carrying a book with me, one of Carl Jung’s thick volumes, as if it were a dog needing a walk. These sentences feel creative. Jung is the other psychological thinker on my reading table. James Hillman is the first. The thought comes to me: the three of us will take a lot of walks together in my mind.

A decade ago, in November, I was in our flat in Madrid, where we were living, when suddenly I pictured myself writing at the dining room table instead of at my desk. I walked into my writing room, and with my journal and a pen, returned to the dining room. I sat down at the table and waited for an imaginative moment, which came soon enough. As if my journal were speaking to me, I knew that this form of writing, the work I did in my journal, would become my future narrative structure.

A memory in images from 2013 or 2014 comes to me. I think it was springtime. I had started to write and post fictional pieces of between two hundred and five hundred words on an online literary community, and I was frustrated. The piece I’d posted the day before was not being read. I started writing in my journal. The sentences were in charge, not me. I pictured myself standing alongside an indoor basketball court, watching the retired NBA player Chris Mullin shoot baskets. Everyone else had left. He wouldn’t stop practicing. The images seemed to say: Your writing hasn’t given up on you. Keep writing!

I’m attempting to imagine the me who, as a university freshman, dreamed of becoming a minister. Perhaps I didn’t become one because for me holy books are in the psychology section.

As I read Jung’s paper, “Psychotherapists or the Clergy” (in Volume 11 of his Collected Works), I picture myself no longer in psychoanalysis. I’m on my own, so to speak. Is that what I want? No, not yet. I still have much to learn about myself on the couch. 

I am imagining creating an experience, in the second half of my life, that feels meaningful to me. Is keeping my twelve-foot lapstrake rowboat in the water for six months a year creating an experience? For a decade, since students at a wooden boat school built it, I’ve kept the boat out of the water except during the weekends and vacations when I’ve used it. It’s time to make the boat more real to me. In other words, the image of it must be real inside of me.

I’ve returned to my desk after checking to see if we have mail today. I was hoping a book would be waiting for me. I know that the rest of this one is, the one I’m writing, inside of me.

 

Voices in the Forest

The image speaks to me as if it were part of my waking life. I’m trying to translate it into words in my journal. A woman who knows me quite well awaits me in a forest. I’m within a few feet of her when I wake up.

I’m preparing my morning coffee when I see the woman’s face again. A bridge appears, and I imagine it connecting my current state of mind with the world of fantasy, where dreams live.

My coffee cup is empty within ten minutes. I haven’t left the kitchen. I can’t remember the last time I drank my morning coffee without a book in my hands. The caffeine should start waking me up soon. I feel as if I’m in a dark tunnel, and I’m uneasy because I can’t see the end of it.

I’ve returned to my desk. I’m writing more words in my journal. The image of my psychoanalyst in the forest returns. She appears different in the woods than she does in her consulting room, although what she’s wearing I’ve seen many times. She looks as if she belongs there. What are we going to do together in the middle of nowhere?

Why couldn’t the dream have continued? I woke up too soon. These words in my mind are interrupted by another voice, as if someone else were also in my head. “The dream hasn’t ended yet. You two encounter each other in the forest. Let the dream continue. Imagine what might happen next.”

Inward Flights

I am in three or four places at once in my imagination. A Jungian pastor (pastor comes to mind seconds before psychotherapist) speaks about synchronicity to passengers at Sea-Tac Airport waiting to board a plane. I’m one of the passengers. I’m also a few miles from the heart of downtown Seattle at my favorite imaginary bookstore, NonStop Books, drawing squares, circles, and rectangles on a notepad as I count the minutes until the speaker should begin a talk on his encounter with a famous psychologist in an airport bar. As he remembers their conversation, they spoke about discovering images of God in the unconscious. A few blocks from this imaginary bookstore, a psychotherapist prepares to leave her fourth floor office and start a much needed vacation. She’s in a hurry. Her flight is scheduled to depart in three hours. Maybe vacation isn’t the right word to describe the experience of participating in a spiritual writing workshop. I am her final client of the day, and I pause before closing her office door behind me. Words don’t seem enough to express what has been happening in my imagination while I’ve been writing this paragraph. Perhaps I must spend more time with my feet on the ground before flying away.

Spiritual Fishing

I pictured myself alone in the room. Then my former Jungian psychotherapist appeared behind me. I imagined that she put her coffee cup down and walked a few feet to her desk to find a pad of graph paper, which I remembered her using one day over twenty years ago, when I spontaneously decided to spend one of our sessions of psychotherapy at the sandtray she had in an adjoining room. An image of my hands in the sand preceded the following thought: I can create magic here.

Many more sentences remain to be written. I imagine that my former therapist no longer has an office where she sees clients. In fact, I read online last year that she was retired, which remains hard for me to believe. Her work seemed to be her life.

The series of images at the sandtray weren’t finished with me. I started creating forms in the sand. I had yet to touch any of the miniature objects and figures on the shelves. A river came alive in my imagination. Then this image in my mind became reality in the sand. My hands wanted objects to hold.

No objects outside of my imagination were interested in me. I jumped into the river and touched the bottom, where I encountered a cross that seemed to be waiting for me. Together we returned to the surface. I felt like a spiritual fisherman, and I said this aloud to the woman whom I thought was standing behind me. “I’m here,” I imagined my former Jungian therapist responding, as I turned around and realized I was alone in the room.

It feels good to know that the final sentence has been written. Writing is my life.

In Both Directions at Once

Time and space are altering my perspective of reality in my imagination. The two rooms are alongside each other. I imagine an underground tunnel connecting them, which I know would be impossible in reality since the two offices are on the fourth floor. The images don’t lie: I’m in both rooms at once.

In rereading the opening sentence above, I find myself replacing perspective with perception. Words seem to be helping me imagine what’s happening in my mind. The images I have yet to mention alter my perception of reality as I hold this pen and move it across the page. As I wrote the previous sentence, I thought: you should mention that you’re writing across the page from left to right. Now I imagine myself writing from the right side of the page to the left, and this image or series of images disorientates me.

Did I make both appointments for the same time, or did I appear in each room without warning, as if I knew that each of the two psychotherapists in my imagination would be expecting me? The image of me seated across from a woman, a Jungian psychoanalyst who in reality I saw at a lecture a few years ago, and another, of me lying on a couch with a psychoanalyst seated behind it, don’t seem interested in providing me with a verbal reply to my question.

The same dream is talked about in both rooms. I’m digging a tunnel. In which direction am I digging, east or west? It’s unclear. Clarity arrives in the next image. I’m digging in both directions at once.