When the Story Gets Interesting…

Writing, like analysis, can be a process of re-creation.
Sign from garden of Dominican Sisters of Peace, Columbus, OH.

When the Story Gets Interesting…

Last month at the Donor Event of the C. G. Jung Institute of San Francisco, three authors read from their contributions to Marked by Fire: Stories of the Jungian Way. Chie Lee, past president of the C. G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles, read from “Old Roots, New Soil,” Karlyn M. Ward of the C. G. Jung Institute of San Francisco,  from “Voices,” and Jacqueline Gerson of Mexico City from “Finding Meaning: An Unexpected Encounter.” Each author amplified her work, drawing us all into the intimacy of psyche.
During the question period someone asked why these stories were so interesting, not just personal stories. I think this is a very good question, and one very related to analytic work. I know that my journals, ripe with the raw material of everyday life, bore even me!  I inflict such writing on very few—my writing group, for instance, with whom I trust rough drafts, or in years past, my analyst.  Shadow often reigns in a very unprocessed way, and there are those issues that seem to loop back through over and over in a tiring way.

The personal stories in Marked by Fire are not journal entries but ones much further down the line, ones that have been “worked.” That is what analysis does: it takes the raw material of everyday life, the prima materia, and composts it, until it fertile ground, food for soul development. Although complexes may still be there, they do not obliterate contact with the Self or the Divine.

When we touch the Divine, the story gets interesting. Something in us becomes alert. It is like reading a fairy tale to a child about the evil stepmother, and the child wants to hear it over and over. Dealing with the dark side of one’s mother is quite a task, and fairy tales help. A wiser, older part of ourselves listens very carefully. Hearing someone else’s worked story, although different from our own, puts us in touch with that universal truth and how we too might find our way.

As I listened to Chie Lee’s story of her immigration from China and her own dilemmas with the ancestors in telling her story, I felt my own ancestors’ complicity in my life. As Karlyn Ward played for us the recorded, crystal-clear, sweet voice of her mother singing “Climb Every Mountain” and then read the “voice” emerging from her dying mother, I felt chilled by the return of the repressed, and awe at how important this work with the psyche is. And Jacqueline Gerson’s story of the synchronicity of finding Jung’s Memorias, Sueños y Pensamientos in Spanish, her language, at a particularly difficult juncture in her life, brought tears to all of our eyes, a reminder that when we are open, synchronicity assists us in finding our way.

This is when the story gets interesting.

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