I can’t help it. This quote makes me smile and think we’re all gonna be alright after all, like the theme song of the “Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
Welcome to Day 27 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:
“There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the other in the year’s course. Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word ‘happy’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.”
I am very late with today’s post; a good 12 hours late. It’s OK though because real life has taken over in a big way and as much as I’ve been enjoying this little “therapy retreat” as one of my favorite readers called it, all good things must end and soon, we will be at our end here with this Jungian journey.
My, what a ride is has been though, huh? I will have no choice but to write a retrospective when all is said and done in a few days. Then I’m off to begin phase 1 of my yoga training; I sense that my brain is the perfect amount of mush now and is ready to take in even more woo-woo, as Kelly DeBie and Lillian Connelly and I call it.
I love the quote.
I often hear from my children (about whom I’ve not written much lately, sorry boys) from one to the other sounds of mirth or rage or defiance or jocularity or surprise or wonder and even, dare I venture: support. Sometimes, though, I just like the silence.
The silence means they’re busy. Maybe even reading and so it is often that I marvel over the silence and am equally thankful for the noise, because as Jung said, there is always a balance, and were it not for the balance we’d have no way of appreciating anything.
How would we know noise if we didn’t know silence?
How would we know joy if we didn’t know pain?
How would we know right if we didn’t know wrong?
I could go on and on… one more? Ok…
How could we know bad cereal if we didn’t have the goodness of Cap’n Crunch? (It has been too long without a Cap’n reference; I couldn’t help myself.)
But where do we strike the balance? Or do we strike the balance? We can be excessive. For instance, today I was at Costco. (I could just stop there….) I had this moment of quandary: how do I strike the Jungian balance of being a part of the world, but also maintain my selfness, my autonomy and my need for progress when the world seems to want to just stand there? And how do I get to stand still and just be, try to grasp what little I can of the time that fleets before me when the zeitgeist of the world moves too quickly for my taste?
Balance. Karma. Give. Take. Cheese. Combo.
I needed to order a pizza to bring home for lunch. Two registers were open, but the twenty or so people standing in the mob-blob in front of the registers were sort of mooing, bleating and clucking to themselves; there was no order, and it wasn’t as though they were a group trying to choose from the great vastness of the menu: plain or pepperoni, sandwich or a hot dog? Vanilla or chocolate? If they were standing in front of the soda machines, I could understand it, but not where they were.
One of the cashiers was trying to get the tall peoples’ attention, anything… he was waving enthusiastically, he said, “This register is open! I can take your order!” and the answer was more mooing and croaking.
Finally, an adroit member of the Costco cashier team said loudly, her hands cupped against her laugh lines (they’re always laugh lines on this cashier): “Two. Lanes. Are. O-PEN. Form! Two! Lines!” and her arms spread out with each index finger pointing at a beige IBM terminal, their green LED screens flashing, “Costco Food Court.” The mooing and clucking became “ohhh”-ing and “agh”-ing and it was as if Moses himself had divided the red sea.
The man in the white shirt ahead of me clearly chose the left lane. I stayed behind him. A mass of people moved to the right. I didn’t care or notice who was behind me, but I was definitely always directly behind this man and his white shirt. About four people were ahead of him. Out of the corner of my eye, behind me, definitely behind me, was this little woman and her two grandchildren. She reminded me of a very short Olympia Dukakis, one of my favorite actresses.
Was she in the right lane? Was she in the left lane? Was she aware? Was she accustomed to lanes, to order in Costco, the likes of which our Food Court Moses had manifested?
I could sense my space was being infringed upon.
I didn’t like it.
Normally, I honest to goodness would absolutely let anyone get in front of me who was encumbered by small children; I have been there and I would absolutely would allow a grandparent. Normally.
Yet, I wasn’t sure what she was trying to do. Read the menu? She wouldn’t look at me. But she got closer. Her wee charges pulling one arm one way and another arm the other way. Her salt & pepper hair was wavy and sagacious. One of the children moved directly in front of me; between me and Mr. White Shirt.
I was tired. I was hungry and I was totally aware of my Jungian responsibility to this woman: we are all connected. We are all one people. We are all the same. ‘Cept she wasn’t making eye contact. She started to move in.
The lane to the right was moving along; it was a couple people longer than mine, but it was moving as people were making orders like I would be and not actually need food served at the moment.
She stepped right into my path. She bumped into Mr. White Shirt. He turned to her, she said, “Oh! Sorry,” and she still didn’t look at me.
I cleared my throat as if I had the plague and I said to her, “I’ve been behind him since the lane formed. What do you need? Are you in a line?”
“It’s no beeeg deeeeeal! It’s nooo beeg deeeel!” She said, nodding and smiling.
I had to pee. I also had to find my husband who was still shopping. I was afraid he’d get the wrong 5-gallon tub of mustard. I hate it when he does that. I also had to order a pizza and I was also supremely thirsty.
I was still aware of my connection. “We are all one. We all have sadness and happiness; we all have fears and confidences; we all have wants and aversions…” I said to myself.
I didn’t care. I mean, I did, so I tempered myself, but I didn’t care.
“It is a big deal; I need to order a pizza and I don’t know what you’re doing. I’ve been behind him. Are you with him? You can get behind me or that other line…” I didn’t growl, but I was firm. I also stood about a foot taller than she did; and I’m just 5’5″.
“It’s no beeeg deeeeeal! It’s nooo beeg deeeel!” She sings, smiles again.
White Shirt turns to look at me. He’s cute; looks like Benjamin Bratt. He looks at her. He turns back around.
She goes over to the other line.
I stand there, unfazed by it all, waiting for my turn to tell them “Pizza please: half-combo, half-plain, two drinks please.” It would be at least two more people ahead of me before I got to do that.
I look over and she’s already done. She’s on her way to the fountain drinks. I laugh to myself. She putters over to a table, I place my order and we go on our ways.
But the whole time internally I’m saying to myself, “Jung would beat me with his dead femur right now if he were here. He just would. I should have given my space to that woman; I should have gestured: you go ahead…” But I reasoned, “I didn’t know what she wanted. She just sort of bobbed in and out. She finished her business way before I did…”
And so I sit here, clearly exceeding my word limit as I explain this to you both, wondering: was that a balance today or was I just a Costco shrew? I try so often to be different from my fellow humans: to be aware (which I was), but to make room, to allow for the randomness and be equanimous (Wayne) with what’s going on. But today I felt as though I were the ignored one, as though she were trying to inch in, flashing her smile, avoiding eye contact and tweeting her “It’s no beeeg deeeeeal! It’s nooo beeg deeeel!” and I didn’t like it. Could’ve been cultural.
Gah! I’m such a shrew! Oh! Forgive me Olympia Dukakis of Costco!
I’ve read a lot over the years about “compassion” and how we can sometimes neglect ourselves for the benefit of others all in the name of compassion. For some reason today, I decided not to do that. Was I feeling a balance?
And she finished before I did. She moved on and I got to be.
“It’s no beeeg deeeeeal! It’s nooo beeg deeeel!”
Ain’t that the truth?