Have you ever felt like more than one person? I’m not talking about a psychotic split, but about how we can feel and behave differently in different situations or seasons. How sometimes we want to be with people and sometimes need to be alone. How we can be passionate about something today and indifferent tomorrow. How we occasionally feel separated from our true selves. If you’ve ever wondered about things like this, you, too, have pondered Life’s Big Question: “Who the heck am I anyway?”
I used to ask myself this during long summers at our vacation home in the Smoky Mountains. There I can spend hours on the porch contemplating hummingbird hostilities, listening to birds define their territories, scanning the sky for soaring hawks and gray clouds, conversing with the gurgling creek, and absorbing the rhythms of the day. I care for animals, feed fish, hike, garden. If we’re having a drought I spend hours driving around the property in my green John Deere Gator with the big water tank labeled WEEKEND WARRIOR lovingly spraying water on every growing thing in sight. I thrive on being alone. I love going nowhere, listening, feeling, sweating, getting dirty. I can’t get enough of the solitude or outdoors.
Do I want to be outdoors in Florida? Are you kidding me? It’s HOT out there! And why would I want to water plants? If they don’t get enough moisture from the dripping humidity and afternoon thunderstorms they’re on their own! In Florida I rarely think about fish or watch clouds or tend to plants. I don’t care if it rains. I want to be with my family, socialize with friends, write.
So who am I? In Florida I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, writer, supporter of the arts, social person. In North Carolina I’m a loner, gardener, observer of nature, enjoyer of solitude. In Florida I side with Apollo, god of the sun, civilization, the cerebral life and culture; in North Carolina I honor Artemis, goddess of the moon, wilderness, the instinctual life and nature.
Did you know these two Greek deities were twins? Which is the real me? The answer, of course, is both. Carl Jung said, “Within each one of us there is another whom we do not know. S/He speaks to us in dreams…” This Another is our unconscious, an inner soup of unknown characters, complexes, untapped interests and disowned emotions. At an early age our ego adapted to the life into which we were born by incorporating the tastiest of these tidbits into our conscious personality and neglecting the rest. We may not normally be aware of the rejected ones, but they are still part of us. Since most are not crucial to our soul’s purpose they don’t mind being ignored. But there are always a critical few we have wrongly disowned. Until we befriend them they show up in our dreams and erupt into waking life in problematic ways.
Splitting my time between two homes in separate and very different settings has actually helped me heal what was once a split between my soul’s twins. For many years my ego favored Apollo’s high ideals, intellectual pursuits and cultured sensibilities, but no more. Now Artemis leads me through the wild, dark unconscious and Apollo helps me write about what she shows me. Because I love them both as much as I love my twin grandsons, there’s no sibling rivalry, no need for them to vie for my ego’s attention. Life is so much richer and more peaceful this way.
Connor and Jake, this one’s for you. Thank you for enriching my life.
Ego and God-Image: Part VII
Intellectually the Self is no more than a psychological concept, a construct that serves to express an unknowable essence which we cannot grasp as such,
Beautifully written, Jean. I remember, years ago, taking the Myers-Briggs type indicator test. I had to laugh when I scored exactly down the middle on extrovert/introvert. One day, I might find myself sitting in a pub for hours, absorbed in conversation, while the next day that same experience seems a complete anathema to me. The perfect antidote becomes a day in which I am locked in a room, my hands glued to a keyboard, pounding out story after story. I know exactly what you mean.
Thank you, for the tweet and very kind words, IrishNewYorker!
I, too, scored down the middle on extrovert/introvert, with a slight nudge toward introvert! Perhaps the sense of being two people is most pronounced with our personality type. It’s probably the most obvious. Actually I’m in the middle of 3 of the 4 continuums, with Sensing/Intuiting being the notable exception: I’m deep into the Intuitive side.
Thanks for writing. Since you are also a writer, you know how good it feels to get this kind of input.
That’s funny, mine was slightly introverted and very sensing/intuitive as well. I guess the only difference is I am very feeling. Down the middle on the perception/judgement. Very similar. And if I recall, this was typical of psychologists and writers and crazy people. (Only kidding) And here we are.
IrishNewYorker, INFP’s: Psychologists, writers and crazy people! I like it. I’ve always had a soft spot for all three: so did Jung! We’re among good company!
dear and divine Jean Raffa….
One who could spot beauty …. can spot God….as God is beauty…..and when beauty becomes visible in every atom …..at OM appears….in the eyes .
OM = ALLAH = GOD
your eyes reflect the beauty of God…
Thank you. I appreciate the beauty of your words and feel the beauty of your generous spirit.
Lovely observation. Thank you
Castor & Pollux….
And Cain and Abel… et. al. 🙂