Monday, 19 August 2013

a creative life

When hearing the term, a “creative life,” what sort of life comes to your mind?  A life full of artistic activities?  A life with innovative ideas?  A life with new and exciting events?
Perhaps all those lives can be creative, and some people are very talented in those things.  However, is a creative life impossible for those who are not very talented in these specific areas?

There is a Japanese movie, Turtles Are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers (2005), directed by Satoshi Miki.  It is a story about an ordinary housewife, called Suzume.  Her name means a sparrow in Japanese, i.e. one of the most common wild birds.  Her life is a typical ordinary featureless life with everything “so-so” – that means things are OK but there is nothing particularly interesting or very special.  She looks common, and does everything just on the average level.  She is bored and feels that she is invisible in the world.

One day she happens to find a tiny advertisement on a railing of steep steps in the neighbourhood, saying, “A Spy Wanted.”  She takes the chance and goes to an interview.  The advertisers like her because she is so ordinary.  They tell her that she has to look and behave as ordinarily as a person can possibly do in order to be a spy, because a spy should look most common, so that most featureless, to stay invisible to others’ eyes.  It makes her start thinking how to be “ordinary” in an active and conscious way.  She tries to buy “ordinary” groceries and to drive a car as an “ordinary” driver.  Eventually she finds it skillful and full of adventure to be “ordinary.”  This change of her attitude makes her ordinary life extraordinary, and consequently she finds her being purposeful and independent.

Suzume keeps living her ordinary life after being a spy, but the meaning of her ordinariness is different from what it was at the beginning of the story.  Being ordinary becomes something special and unique when she finds a meaning in it.

I think this story is very suggestive when thinking about a creative life.  Creativity is a gift everyone has which makes it possible to find potentials and meanings in anything we encounter and experience.  A creative life does not necessarily mean anything interesting or spectacular to others, but living one’s life actively and consciously in a way one finds it meaningful to oneself.

(* This article is published in Personal-Development.Com Newsletter issued on 18 September 2013.  Thank you!)

Saturday, 10 August 2013

the black rabbit

We all have some part of ourselves that we don't like.  Or sometimes we are shocked to find that we have something unpleasant and dark within ourselves.  When it happens we usually want to get rid of that part as quickly as possible, without anyone noticing that we had it.  But is it all we can do with the negative part of ourselves?

Having that question in mind, I would like to share some thoughts on a picture book by Philippa Leathers, The Black Rabbit, which I came across the other day. 

A rabbit wakes up in a beautiful morning and suddenly finds out that he is not alone; a huge black rabbit is standing behind him.
While the rabbit tells the black rabbit to go away, the black rabbit keeps staying behind him.  The rabbit asks the black rabbit why he is following him, but the black rabbit makes no answer.
The rabbit runs, hides and swims to get away from the black rabbit but in vain.  The black rabbit follows him everywhere.

Although the black rabbit is drawn as a physical shadow of the rabbit, it can also be taken as his psychological shadow, i.e. the unknown or disgusted side of his personality.

The beginning of the story well illustrates our shock and fear when we encounter our shadow, the dark unknown side of ourselves: all of a sudden we find something huge behind us, silent and overwhelming.  We have no idea how to communicate with it and yet it follows us anywhere we go.  No matter how hard we try, we cannot get rid of it.

Finally the rabbit runs into the deep dark wood.  Then he cannot see the black rabbit anymore.  He feels relieved.  However, no sooner he is relaxed than he is startled again by someone.  The black rabbit?  No, it is a wolf!  The rabbit runs for his life out of the wood with all his might.  But alas!  The rabbit trips.  All is over!
Strangely enough, when the rabbit gives up, the wolf is gone.  Then the rabbit finds that the black rabbit stands proudly behind him in the sunlight, and the rabbit knows that the black rabbit saved his life, scaring the wolf away.  They smile to each other and become friends.

At the fatal moment the rabbit is at his wits' end and he can do nothing more.  And yet it is also the moment when the black rabbit comes back on the scene and defeats the wolf in such a way the rabbit must have never thought possible.  The black rabbit appears as a friend at the crisis and the relationship between the rabbit and the black rabbit changes dramatically.

When seeing the black rabbit as the neglected shadow side of the rabbit, the last episode clearly shows that the dark side actually contains some not-yet recognised potential of the rabbit.  Even though the rabbit will never win against the wolf in a physical fight, he can still play a trick on the wolf to get rid of him.  Moreover it seems that the crisis was almost necessary for the rabbit to get an access to this unknown creative part of himself.

Since our shadowy side looks strange and threatening, it is natural that our first reaction is a strong rejection.  We might try to ignore it or hide from it or run away from it until the flight is no longer possible.  Consequently it might take a long time for us to really face our dark side.
However, when that part of us is recognised and accepted in relation to ourselves, it will open us up to the possibilities which we never imagined existed in ourselves.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

wishes of roots

As the first entry to this new blog, I would like to tell a little about Jungian approach in psychotherapy and why I named my blog “towards wholeness.”

In order to illustrate it I would like to introduce a short poem called "Wishes."  It is a poem by a Japanese poet, Shinmin Sakamura.  When I translate it in plain English, it runs like this:

         Wishes of invisible roots make such a beautiful flower.

This poem seems to describe the very simple but important truth in life.
We are easily aware of the beautiful flower, but we hardly care about the roots underground.  When we happen to see the roots of the flower, we tend to ignore them or cover them up with soil, often thinking they are not pretty enough to look at.

However, without those roots, the plant cannot live.  The roots ground the plant firmly on the earth, take nourishment and water from the soil, and support the whole being of the plant.

Nevertheless even when we want to know what the roots of a plant look like under the ground, we cannot see them so easily.  If we try to dig them up carelessly, we will damage them and might even kill the plant itself.  There might be no direct way to learn about them.

The poem suggests wishes of the roots make the beautiful flower.  Their invisible wishes are revealed to the world above through the flower, the visible part of the plant.
It means that we have to use our imagination, creativity and empathy to try to understand and appreciate the roots, the invisible part, and consequently, the plant as a whole, including both the visible and invisible parts.

Each flower has its own beauty, no matter how similar they might look.
When viewing this plant in the poem as an image of an individual person, it suggests beauty of the unique being, supported by his/her own roots.
When every part of the individual is recognised and appreciated in harmony, s/he can live his/her whole being.

This idea of appreciating the whole being of a unique individual is the basic attitude of Jungian approach.

I named my blog “towards wholeness” because it is the concept which includes the philosophy of Jungian psychology and the direction I myself hope to go.  Various aspects of an individual are taken with respect and appreciated as a whole.  I believe that one’s life is grounded and full when one has such a harmonious world within and without.

(* This article is published in Personal-Development.Com Newsletter issued on 16 October 2013.  Thank you!)


Welcome to Mée’s blog, "towards wholeness."

In this blog I would like to explore and reflect on what I encounter or experience in life from a Jungian perspective, hoping to introduce Jungian psychology in a casual way.

I would be very happy if visitors of this blog find it interesting in relation to what they feel in their lives.