Gah. I go to concerts and sometimes to plays and I think about the repetition that entertainers must endure in order to make their living. It’s not so much a façade, but it is a “performance of a performance” in that what the audience sees isn’t exactly real in the spontaneous sense. Those entertainers work very hard to perform well and sound good and rehearse for a flawless execution, and even though every performance is indeed different from the one preceding and the one that would follow, in even the most minuscule of ways, it still is: utter repetition.
Welcome to Day 15 of “30 Days of Jung,” my series, wherein (soon, I will start repeating myself, like now) I take a famous quote of Carl G. Jung‘s and try to make sense or refute or invert or disembowel it or where I turn into a heaping pile of mush because of it in 1,000 words or less.
If you don’t know who Jung is, he formulated the theories of introverted and extroverted personalities, the stages of individuation, the basis of the “Meyers-Briggs” personality (INFJ / ESFJ, etc.) tests. He’s the “father” of modern-day psychoanalysis. In short, he’s a badass. But he’s dead, so he can’t be with us today.
Here is today’s:
There’s no coming to consciousness without pain.”
― C.G. Jung
So in the vein I wrote for the introduction today, I will endeavor to make this Nth installment about consciousness new, refreshing and entertaining.
Jules Winnfield. The deep, philosophical and brazen “Pulp Fiction” character portrayed by the wonderful Samuel L. Jackson. Whenever Winnfield starts in with “Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak …” we know it’s not going to end well. Who’s coming to consciousness though when he starts in?
Tony Soprano. I didn’t watch the series with much dedication, but I do recall the scenes where the late James Gandolfini would try so hard to be conscious yet erase the pain of his transgressions. Did it work? (I just deleted a whole chunk of my sadness from hearing about his death because I realized that people die all the time and no loss of life is any greater than another.)
Don Draper (“Mad Men”). That dude is out to lunch, plain and simple. They could set up an entire series just on his rehabilitation. Fans of the show know that John Hamm is in exquisite physical condition (as are almost all the cast of that show) and he works hard to maintain that condition; but they never show Draper at the gym, going for runs… none of that, and we all know that eventually that stuff catches up to you in the form of a stroke, heart attack, nervous breakdown, DUI… even though it was the 70s, and you never look as good as he looks after a post-hangover shower. Where’s his pain? It’s in there.
Cap’n Crunch. This one is hard for me. I just came to the realization thanks to a fan on the Jimmy Fallon show that the Cap’n is a commander. Three stripes on his sleeves is not a Captain in the US Navy. How can he be a Cap’n on the milky seas of my Crunch Berry expedition if he’s got only three stripes? I smell fraud.
I have a good friend who’s a USN wife and she has explained to me the various nuances of commanders versus captains and that a commander of a ship can be the “captain” of that ship, but I remain unconvinced. I’m in pain about this and this is the pain I’m going to address in my coming to consciousness.
Lie. I can’t do it. I’m not ready, it’s still so fresh. Like the Crunch Berries.
Those were all fictional characters (save the Cap’n, he’s real, but he’s also a fraud, so I don’t know what that makes him). I imagine that history is replete with famous people who experienced some pain when they came to their consciousness.
Nixon. But did he? Did he ever actually atone? He still got a memorial library out of the deal. I guess the moral of that story is that yes, we like to nail and impeach people, but we will look past those faults to still see the glimmers of promise because deep down inside we’re decent Americans. Is that consciousness with a helping of whipped cream and a cherry on top?
(Remind me not to borrow a book from that library, its probably bugged. Oh! Who am I kidding… Hi NSA!)
Who isn’t pain averse? As I type here with Murphy by my feet I know that he doesn’t want pain. Because he’s an animal and supposedly can’t rationalize or reason, he has no capacity for understanding what would bring him pain. I wonder if I ask him about his puppyhood if he could relate.
So as a typical human, I’m going to do all I can to avoid pain. But as the saying goes, “no pain, no gain” so what does all this introspection and consciousness do for us? It only provides growth, “growing pains” if we catch ourselves (stay conscious) enough to correct ourselves and I will not be first or the last to say this: mindfulness is utterly exhausting and that’s why I think we have to do it in phases and then apologize if we blow it somewhere along the lapse.
It’s not going to work. I’m going to have to go personal again, aren’t I? Here comes the pain.
Ok, so about three years ago, I had a horrible fight with someone I deeply love very much. It was awful. I reacted in a way to this person’s unconscious lashing out in a verbally violent way and I said many regrettable things.
Interestingly… Some of the things I was told I said (upon the recall and later review / discussion) made no sense to me, and so I can’t help but wonder if either that person “heard” me say things I didn’t really say but rather felt them internally itself and thus transferred them to me or what (but I know that I didn’t say some of them because –well consciously anyway– I don’t agree with the sentiment).
The essence of the situation was that we both said and heard some really dark and deep things about one another that we’d either both repressed for a very long time or that we secretly felt or feared about ourselves and each other and we finally let it loose. Either way, it was atomic.
The other person and I did end up speaking a month later (we needed time to cool off, but I knew immediately after the hammer fell that I regretted everything I said consciously and that all I wanted was for it to all stop and get better) and upon that first conversation this other person who is super smart and articulate could not come up with a “brand” for the experience. I offered “fight” that didn’t fit; nor did “disagreement”; “debate”; “rant”; or “nuclear meltdown.” “Attack” was what it felt like to this person even though today, I still don’t necessarily agree with that summary, but of course I allow it. Who am I to say this person didn’t feel attacked?
I guess I reject “attack” because it hurts too much to believe I could be so aggressive and so nasty and intentionally hurtful. I would be lying however if I didn’t allow that I also felt not so much “attacked” by this person, but certainly over the course of several days I felt intermittently chipped away at, duped, set-up, or picked on which is more this person’s style. The sabotage isn’t obvious or overt, but over time its end result is a collapse of the mental infrastructure of the target.
So just when I thought I was OK, I was back on the couch after that “attack” and I had to go back inside myself to uncover why I might’ve been so mean and unhinged at this person whom I supposedly loved so much. “We hurt those we love the most” while apt, certainly didn’t help me out at all over this period. I have good friends and I tell ya, they know me well (mostly because I let them) and like any good parent, they asked the all-important question when it comes do backtracking an explosion, “Yes, but what happened before that?” and like any good parent, they had me. I had to own my stuff and I had to come to conscious terms with the very real terms that I can still be a World Class asshole despite all my supposed “growth” and introspection and consciousness.
There was no salve that could cure this incident; there are scars, but nothing helped more than the exchange of very simple words we learn before kindergarten: “I’m sorry I hurt you.”
So yes, I can be just as feral, craven, and defensive as a wounded bear. When it comes to protecting that deep part of myself that I don’t want to share: the part of me that says “All the better to see you with my dear” (yes, I know I’m mixing up my animals), I will do anything but expose my vulnerability. That’s the part that still brings me pain. I’m not totally there yet although writing about it helps. I don’t know if I will ever get there.
Per the quote last week, I still have a lifetime to figure it out.
ps – I want to thank everyone who is reading and commenting. I am seeing your comments on my phone, but I can’t always reply because of the network. I will reply when I get back to The States.
Just so you know, the sun has been out for two days in a row here and the boys have been having a wonderful time. Murphy got anxious and attacked a wooden door in the house we’re renting because some neighbors were setting of fireworks on Saturday night while we were out with friends and so we’re repairing that as well. Here’s hoping my landlords don’t read my blog…