Tag Archives: character

30 Days of Jung — Day 7: #Loneliness #Community #Isolation #Relationships #Fear

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I’m not thrilled with this quote; it’s surprising to me how all the readers who came across this quote ended up being of similar minds to vault it to #7, but they did; sometimes there’s no account for intellect at Goodreads.

Welcome to Day 7 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:

“Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.”
― C.G. Jung

Ok, let’s end the count at 1,220.

I had this whole long thing dedicated to this quote; close to 1,000 words and then I got in the hot tub.

I don’t know what to do with this one, honest.

History is full of people who’d probably been better off staying feeling lonely and keeping their important views to themselves.

Hilter.

Stalin.

Charles Manson.

Name a really old pope here.

Marie Antoinette.

Assad.

Orville Reddenbacker.

I threw in that last one to make sure you were still with me.

The point is, with these quotes I’m so far like this: “Hmmm. Ok. Think about it. Agree with it. Disagree with it. Wrestle with it. Hate it. Invert it. Love it. Cap’n Crunch. Done.”

With this one I’m like this: “What?! Who gives a patoot? History is full of …. ”

Here’s why I am where I am: I can’t feel sorry for anyone who decides to keep their views –radically dangerous or fantastically amazing– to themselves.

Jesus.

Magellan.

Edison.

Pasteur.

Newton.

Galileo.

Orville Reddenbacker.

They might be radical. They might be unique, but if they’d kept their thoughts to themselves, we’d be lost.

But I don’t think these are the people Jung is talking about… I don’t think he means their kind of loneliness. Or did he?

What would Jung say today about loneliness in the age of the Internet where people with thoughts ranging from cat memes to bomb-building, or with interests ranging from child care to foot fetishes (and worse) can find one another and find community? Is it possible, even in a cat meme (I know, I’m always picking on the cat memes) community to feel isolated, lonely, as though a viewpoint would be inadmissible? Are you telling me “Can I has a Cheezbrger” has content imitations or editorial standards?

I don’t know. Maybe.

But I also suspect I’m taking the easy way out of this one. I’m veering toward the land of the “surface dwellers” as my husband likes to call them. It’s not that I think the concept of loneliness is absurd in this day and age; it’s the contrary. There are people, myself included, who have likely felt never more lonely than with the so-called advent of Facebook. Am I feeling sorry for myself? I don’t think so. I’m just being honest. But then I know where I’m safe: home.

So now it’s about safety: the lack of fear that comes from knowing that your thoughts are admissible.

Not so fast.

We all have thoughts that we consider errant or inadmissible. Sometimes we want to plow our massive SUV into the smug Prius driver who cut us off at the approach to the light. Push them all the way into the busy intersection ahead, watch the whites of their eco-friendly eyes widen with fear as they scream and you can hear them very well, even above the grinding moan of the Prius bumpers and brake pads and the guttural, throaty rev of your ozone-killing V8 because when their stupid little earth-saving car’s speed drops to less than 10 mph the engine goes silent…

No.

We don’t share those thoughts.

Or my own particular thoughts about cereals. Some people eat cereals other than Cap’n Crunch. I think they’re losers, but I don’t tell them that; and I don’t say it aloud. And the fact that I wrote about my thoughts about their pitiful breakfasts right here on the internet doesn’t matter. No one’s on the internet.

We don’t share those thoughts because they’re radical, snobby even, totally “inadmissible” and they make us feel disconnected. We feel judged before we even say anything. We judge ourselves before we even bother to share. We are our own worst enemies in this Jungian proposition. We assume, we guess, we suspect, we fear and thus: we become lonely. We isolate. Are our thoughts polarizing? Are they dangerous? Are they inventive and we fear we’ll be laughed at? Is the NSA watching? I don’t know. (If the NSA is reading this that makes three people.)

I think, again, all of this boils down to fear. A fear of sharing, a fear of communicating and a fear of reprisal. That fear is what creates the feeling of loneliness. And that sensation of loneliness occurs because we self-judge; we kick the proverbial sand with our massive legs in our own wimpy and pale faces.

That’s a crappy feeling. Having so much to say and feeling as though you can’t share it. It reminds me of crushes; the fear we have when we love someone and we are afraid to tell them. The fear we have when we disagree with someone but we don’t say it because we fear they will not like us anymore. The fear we have when we want to show how we’re really feeling, say what we want to say, but feel this oppressive, heavy, awful, stifling! sensation that tells us:

No one will:

understand you…

agree with you…

like you…

respect you…

talk to you…

If you say what’s on your mind.

If you say what you need to have heard.

If you say what you yearn to share.

I will admit that sometimes when I’m in a really crappy mood that the last thing I’ll want is to be around other people. I don’t think anyone will be able to relate to me, I don’t think I’m a pleasure to be around and I’d rather not tell someone they have parsley between their teeth if I don’t have to.

A mood is one thing. It passes.

An outlook on life, a sense of isolation based on a fear of sharing, however is something entirely different. Some people who are like this tend to brand themselves a “lone wolf” or some other label other than “afraid” that helps perpetuate and broaden the chasm between themselves and their community.

Some people can’t help it, they have autism or another social challenge. But I also suspect, outside of autism or its ilk, that most of lone wolf people consider something in themselves repellant. I also feel that a lot of these people, through their social disconnection, feel some semblance of empowerment regarding rebellion or anger toward the majority of the society in general which I find engenders a sense of victimization and further disconnect. It’s an odd question: does society repel these types of people or do these types of people repel society? Whatever the cause, humans are social creatures and we need to relate to one another.

I think of the title of Adam Sandler’s album of long ago, “They’re All Gonna Laugh At You!” and Stephen King’s book Carrie; what messages do our parents give us or what messages are we giving our children that can help build a stronger sense of self so that we aren’t afraid to share our thoughts?

Lonely is isolation, feeling left out, excluded, apart from the whole.

Alone feels more like a choice. “Leave me alone!” “I just want to be alone!” (I never say that at my house with three boys.)

But I think Jung is going after the emotional state of “loneliness” and the results of feeling as though you can’t communicate something to others because they might find it “wrong.”

So given the quote about having people about vs. holding things in like viewpoints that might be inadmissible, all this leaves me wondering about “loneliness” — is it an emotion? Or is it a condition? Or… is it a choice? I wonder.

Thank you.

30 Days of Jung — Day 6: #Darkness #Self #Awareness #Hypocrisy

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For some reason, I want to leave my home, RIGHT NOW, drive to wherever Jung is buried, exhume this dude and scream at him. Then compose myself, promptly apologize, smooth over any wrinkles I might’ve made in his dead suit lapels and gently put him back.

Welcome to Day 6 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:

“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.”
C.G. Jung

Really? So I am feeling a LOT like I was on Day 2 (Lisa Loopner day). You know, that whole “takes one to know one” theme. But today’s is actually more pointed, more intentional, more intense, more… dark. I’ll likely ruffle some family feathers in this post, but here’s me, “it’s nothing personal” and their reaction is not my responsibility; it’s theirs (day 2 as well).

Alright, let’s do this. Count: up to 1,265.

Darkness. Darth Vader: he knew it about himself and maxed it out and he imploded. Heart of Darkness: war, deep stuff and violent; this is irrefutable, craven darkness, in-your-face, hard-to-admit-about-ourselves stuff. Dracula: a metamorphosis after deceit. Screwed-up as all get-out, a little puerile (honestly! — biting?! talk about id issues!) but a great metaphor for how we can infect people with our obsessions and darknesses. Don Draper — there’s a dark dude. I’m gonna wax etymological on Don one of these days, I mean it’s full of potential: don and drape. I’ll be gender fair: Medusa, Lizzie Borden, Mommie Dearest.

I’m feeling oogey. I am reluctant to write about this quote because I have spent a lot of time in the darkness. I grew up witnessing and partaking in some crazy dysfunctional stuff and I was disappointed and terrified and lied to a lot as a child. I Work Very Hard these days to credit my past for whom I’ve become. (Jung would high-five me and you about that reframing.)

I prefer to talk about resilience, perseverance and the benefits of soul-crushing Hard Work of awareness and release about my childhood during my adulthood to make the little triumphs in my adulthood all the sweeter, once I allowed them. Those childhood disappointments made me industrious (which is good) and hard (which isn’t so great). Say I’d won the “Best Person Ever” award. My response, “Meh. It’s ok. You want it?”

When you grow up in a world where the people you were given to by God hide, deny, project, compartmentalize and rage through their issues, you see a darkness that at times can warp your brain and your outlook on life. I will release my memoir one day and people might say it’s not true; that it’s an angry vitriolic slight and slam at my parents; it won’t be. It’s not. It’s about growth and forgiveness. Take Running With Scissors; aspects of it are very close to my story. People talk about how it’s fiction; that no one treats their children that way or the way I remember being treated. But then there will be people who silently nod and they will know. They’re in touch with their own darknesses, and so we can relate. (HAY! I’m still on topic.)

But despite this quote, I’ve never been able to endure having darkness be the foundation upon which I can build my relationships. It’s unbearable for me. It has happened and it has FAILED MISERABLY. I always want out. Eventually, I want to go back to my (our, yours too) essence. I want to return to the state that created me: pure energy and light. I employ that darkness to know light; I use lies to know truth; I use fear to know confidence; use chaos to know peace; and use mindlessness to know mindfulness. All that stuff I can’t seem to find in a box of Cap’n Crunch.

Angler fish? That dude lives in some seriously dark and cold water. But even he needs light to trap and survive.  (c) Disney / Pixar, disneywiki images

Angler fish? That dude lives in some seriously dark, deep and cold water. But even he needs light to trap and survive.
(c) Disney / Pixar, disneywiki images

What’s the hardest for me at times in all of this is coming to terms with my capacity for my own darkness. I absolutely possess it; and that’s what makes my ability to see right through others’ bullshit façades like a TSA agent working the conveyor belt at Dulles. They can’t hide from me. I’ve been there. Will I call them out? Not likely; it has to be rampant. I just take notes. I’m starting to blossom a little: I’ve delicately called out hypocrisy and self-righteousness when I see it. It will make me unpopular. I don’t care. People won’t die from being made aware of themselves and their patterns. That includes me too.

It’s almost like an ill-begotten superpower. Like that dude in “Powder” whose mother was struck by lightning (don’t worry, in typical style I’m about to turn Jung upside down again) when she was pregnant with him, he could sense things (secrets, feelings, thoughts) in others and that made him a threat. I am not bald and messed up like he was; I can still grow hair out of my head, but I do know that everyone EVERYONE has been hurt and no matter how brave and how strong and how funny and how smart and clever you might think you are: I’m on to you.

I’ve been there, I know the capacity for darkness in myself and even though I’m not in your shoes: I get it. That makes me your cheerleader. That makes me proud of you, that you’re still here, swinging for the fences. It also makes me aware that you are liable to pop at any moment. Because all that bravado spills over and starts to burn and there’s only so much tough, funny, dedicated, smart guy or gal your pot can handle. Trust me. Even when you think you’ve got it all together, that’s the moment you really don’t. I’m laughing at this actually, because it reminds me of Kevin Bacon in “Animal House” just a few seconds later after Flounder’s enthusiasm became unbridled (same scene as yesterday):

He had to get run over by a stampede of panicked Faberians to be convinced that all hell was breaking loose.

Don’t be like Bacon. Don’t get fried. (Yuk yuk yuk – that was insanely hard and impossible clearly for me to resist.)

So I want to invert this because despite all my crap growing up, I’m an optimist.

We can not know our own darkness without having an appreciation of our own light. We know, even in our darkest, deepest moments, that it’s no way to live. We know that we deserve better thinking, better behavior, better coping and better lives. The question is: do we have the guts to do something about it? I know we do — simply because we are still here. Personality disorder? I get it. Practice some self-awareness, get your act together. Be cool, tone it down, APOLOGIZE.

So to get back to the quote: I know yours because I know my own. Do you know your own to deal with someone else’s? And at times, it is “dealing”; it’s a negotiation just to survive it sometimes.

Thank you.

30 Days of Jung — Day 5: #Service, #Action #Honor #Character

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Today’s Jung quote would be more suitable for a Monday or the start of something, but we will forge ahead nonetheless, because I’m in.

Welcome to Day 5 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.

This is today’s quote:

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”
C.G. Jung

Start the count to end at 1,186…

I feel like this is another easy one, like yesterday’s about us not being the sum of what happened to us but rather that we are what we choose to be. But then I realized it’s much deeper than that, damn that dead Jung.

Just so both of you guys know, I’m getting these quotes as they are ranked on Goodreads. I’m not arbitrarily selecting them. But in keeping with today’s quote, I’ll say this: I wasn’t sure I’d commit to this series when I first considered it about six months ago, even though I loved the idea. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it or come up with enough content to see it all the way through. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it entertaining, I wasn’t sure was afraid. I was afraid I’d falter or that it would suck. But I need to be bigger than that. I need to commit, which I have, and get it done and do the best I can at keeping you entertained and maybe enlightened and hopefully become a fan of Cap’n Crunch cereal if you weren’t already.

By the end of this series, I will have produced more than 30,000 words devoted to these quotes. (I have just chewed up about 300 words talking about doing this… sound frighteningly apropos of the quote?)

I will admit this also: when I’m in, I’m all in. But until that moment, I’m dust, vapor, a chance of follow-through.

Goodreads has its own tags beneath the quotes and I used two of them for today: Service and Action. But even though, yes, those two tags are appropriate, they still felt anemic to me; they weren’t “thick enough” (to borrow Prego pasta sauce’s tag line from years ago). So then I added “lip service” which was close, but not quite right. Then it occurred to me, this quote is well and good, but the thrust of it, the core of it — to me, is about honor; and then even deeper still, it’s about character. Guts. Thicker: it’s about fearlessness.

It’s about believing in yourself as much as your people believe in you and doing what you say you will do rather than talking about it all the time and letting people expect you to do it. Worse: it’s about not keeping people on the line when you promise to deliver. It’s about showing up.

I’d rather have someone never commit to something than tell me they will do something and not follow-up. Those people, those Chex Rice people, they are hard for me to be around. Their sentences aren’t words, they’re sonnnnngs and they whiiiiiine their responnnnnnnnses when they taaaallllllk to yooooooou.

“AAAAH SHADDAP!” said Bugs Bunny.

One of my first and all-time favorite editors is a guy I still have the honor of knowing. I worked for him as a lowly editorial assistant back in 1993 in Alexandria, VA. I learned more from him in the first year of my job than I ever did in my fourteen years of college. When I took that job, my skills and interview spoke for themselves, but I’d never worked in a newsroom. The plan was that I would shadow someone and learn by example. I would watch and assist in the culmination of the entire week’s work go down on Friday and then take over the following week. It was for a weekly column called “Legislative Update” which was a summary of action that happened on Capitol Hill relative to the education legislation we were covering.

So I started on a Monday. I had my Cap’n Crunch for breakfast, a cold glass of OJ and a piece of toast, just like on the box. I was a freakin’ carb mess. I showed up at the front desk, and presented myself to the receptionist. My hands were likely shaking and my body was vibrating. I don’t remember driving there, I think I just hummed my way to work and up the elevator chute (I’m quickly approaching 1200 words).

I was all, “Girl Friday” about it. “That’s swell, boss! I’ll get on that right away! You bet!”

Tuesday, same thing, different suit.

Wednesday, getting a little nervous but paying attention and taking notes. “You betcha! This is a hum-dinger!”

Thursday, I’m keen, enthusiastic, “Cat’s pajamas! You’re the tops!”; watchful, asking lots of questions and pretending I knew what the hell was going on.

Friday, I’m all in. I’m wearing jeans even because it was casual Friday. “Oh Boy! Is this is great!” I’m all “Flounder” from Animal House when they’re about to sabotage and spill the 10,000 marbles at the Faber Day Parade:

And so I’m waiting for the marbles, y’know. I’m waiting for my mentor to show up, the one I’d been shadowing all week.

SHE CALLED IN SICK.

A part of me died inside.

“Well, you know what you’re doing, Molly, you’ve been following her all week, you can do this. We’ll need copy by 3,” said my almost executive editor, the man I still know today.

“Uhhh…” I thought I was going to hurl right there. Lose all that Cap’n Crunch all over the industrial midnight blue berber carpet.

It took me all day. I learned how to format, I learned how to edit, I learned how to not die.

I did it.

I DID IT!

He liked to say later that it was all part of the plan, but I know it wasn’t. It was “baptism by fire,” as he described it last time I saw him at Costco. That’s how I’ve learned to operate since; I don’t talk about what I’m going to do too much until I’m ready to do it; then I just try to get it done. I grew up with a talented, smart and beautiful mother who never followed through. I don’t know what stopped her other than some incredible fear. It’s heartbreaking, really. Then there’s me who believes, “You can’t win if you don’t play” and that the only way to do things is … to DO things.

I have a friend, RICK, who has zero patience for people who say, “I want to…” she cuts them off, with love, but says, “Then do it.” She is countered with “But I…” and she will again interrupt with love and say, “Then stop talking about it. Do it or shut up.” She’s said that to me a couple times, and she’s right. If it weren’t for her, I’dve never started this blog. If it weren’t for her, I’dve never entered that fiction contest (I didn’t place as a finalist, but I did it…). She’s right. She’s Bugs Bunny.

So, yeah: we are what we do. It’s pretty a clear message.

Thank you.