“…the outer world and inner world are interdependent at every moment. We are simply the locus of their collision and whether we like it or not our life is what we are able to make of that collision…So what we need is a faculty that embraces both worlds simultaneously…” ~Ted Hughes, quoted in Lindsay Clarke, Green Man Dreaming, p.21.
The faculty that embraces both worlds is imagination. Here’s an example of how I’m using it to deal with a current collision between my outer and inner worlds.
One part of me is very organized, responsible, and self-disciplined. You might say, driven. I call her Hilda. She’s the part of me with which my ego identifies the most.
Another part wants to lie in bed all day and read, eat popcorn, have someone else prepare dinner and bring it to me on a tray. And never have to worry about meeting a deadline again. I’ve glimpsed her shadow hanging around more than usual lately. I imagine her as a little girl. She’s so tired of us working so hard. It’s been such a long haul and she wonders when she’ll just get to relax. She’s an orphan, you know. Or almost anyway. Our mother was very organized, responsible, and self-disciplined too. She had to be. Our father was dead and she had a good job that she had to show up for every day except Sunday. Shelley understood, of course. She was a very good little girl who never complained. She had to be good or something bad might happen.
Lately, Hilda and I are a little troubled about Shelley. We’ve done a lot of inner work with her. Shelley did some grieving, and Hilda and I even had an adoption ceremony in which we vowed to remind our Mother and Father archetypes to give her more love and attention. After a while she stopped showing up in our dreams and we’ve seen very little of her for a long time. Occasionally she’d kick up a fuss when there was a surge of unusually challenging mental labor and stress. But when it was over, she always calmed down and all would be well.
Then about four years ago we started The Soul’s Twins and Hilda just took over. You should have seen her. What a Warrior! She could work at the computer for eight, ten hours straight. I was actually rather proud of her. We’re not getting any younger, you know.
But then I started having trouble sleeping. I couldn’t turn off my mind. I’d go to bed thinking about the book, lie awake a few hours, then fall asleep only to reawaken a few hours later. After that I’d doze on and off in that liminal space between sleeping and waking until morning when I often become aware that I was mentally dictating a solution to the problem I’d been struggling with the day before.
This was great, of course! I suspect the inspiration was coming from my Mediatrix and Sage. They’re good at working together to resolve the problems my book presented and I loved that I didn’t have to figure everything out by myself. So Hilda and I would hop out of bed and practically run to the computer where I’d write down everything before I forgot.
This went on for over three years. I assumed things would slow down when The Soul’s Twins was launched last November. But that was only the beginning of a new phase of work of a different, far more challenging kind for us. No one in the house of my psyche is good at marketing or selling. We are writers, philosophers, reflective opiners, dreamers, students and teachers of human nature, mentors, imaginative thinkers and assimilators of ideas. Yet, I have to promote my book if I want it to be read. And of course I do. I’ve had some help but the burden has been on Hilda and me. It’s been tough.
So Hilda is concerned about Shelley, and I’m concerned about Hilda. I think she’s about ready to throw in the towel. As the mediator and moderator in this family, I think that’s a little drastic. So I’m thinking I need to convene the whole family of archetypes who live in my house in a brain-storming session. There’s been a collision and more than a few of us are ready to address it. Nobody seems to know for sure what the problem is or who might be at the heart of it. I suspect it’s an assortment of unfinished business with my archetypal forces plus issues about the changes in work and relationships that have come with time and aging and diminishing ambition and energy. With patience, trust, a little imagination, and a dialogue between my conscious and unconscious selves, the Self will work these things out.
Take good care of your many selves.
Art: Michael Chaval
Paper and E-book versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. The Wilbur Award-winning Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications.com. Jean’s new Nautilus Award-winning The Soul’s Twins, is at Amazon and Schiffer’s Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit. Subscribe to her newsletter at www.jeanbenedictraffa.com.