I just had coffee with a friend and we talked about this blog and ‘following your bliss’. I asked her what she would find herself doing if she set aside an hour a day just to ‘be’, as Joseph Campbell recommends (see About the Bliss Files). The question slightly freaked her out. Finally she said, I’d walk, I’d do yoga, I’d read, I’d dream. All tools for self-discovery, it seems to me.
Carl Jung has said: “Every human being at core has a unique story and to discover one’s greatest meaning is to grow one’s story.”
I had a dream once about a treasure chest right at the bottom of a big old mansion. It was filled with some pretty impressive looking jewels, but the treasure was ever so tightly tightly packed in, nary a skerrick spilling out. I took it to mean there is some treasure there at the heart of me … and that treasure is my own ‘unique story’, my own set of gifts and inherited traits and DNA make-up that makes me ME…
But because the story was so tightly packed in, I had some serious delving to do. After all, being unique wasn’t prized where I grew up in middle-class Australia. Achievement might have been (athletic prowess, good grades etc), but not being individual, creative and unique. Specially not if you were a girl. You were best to just listen to your parents, to the priest at church and the nuns at school, to become a nurse or a teacher, and not say too much. Not good grounds for developing your own uniqueness.
As I grew older, I began to develop a yearning to ‘grow my story’. Two of my friends’ parents were Jungian analysts – pretty unusual I would think, to encounter two in a period of as many years… I took at as a sign. I asked one of them for a referral, and began to undertake Jungian Analysis – which requires you to listen to your dreams and write them down.
Dreams in themselves are a treasure trove of clues and signs that can help you unravel your story. They are a fantastic tool if it’s tapping into your own uniqueness you are after. I still listen to my dreams and write them down today. (More on that in upcoming Bliss Files posts.)
Writing has been another great tool for unpacking that treasure chest. When I sit down to write I am faced with myself. Sometimes I get in my own way – quite often in fact. And my own self-doubts and negative thinking make the exploration that is necessary to uncover those jewels impossible. Other times I glimpse the extent of the jewels hidden down there, and I think how will I EVER find the time needed to uncover them… what with running a business, making school lunches, running teenagers around, assisting in a house renovation – AND thinking of something to cook every evening?! I’m exhausted just writing that down. Let alone finding the time to uncover my own unique story alongside all of that. Christ – is it even really necessary?
Well of course it is… I cannot go to my grave not having unpacked that treasure chest. I have an inner heckler that won’t let me rest with stuff like that… It’s constantly going, ‘what have you done today to improve the world Millar? What have you done that’s unique today? Get off that arse and get on it!!’
So here I am on a sunny Saturday afternoon when I could be at the beach writing a blog post. And I’ll keep writing them… until I find out why I’m here. Along the way, I’ll explore some of the tools and tips that have worked for me in getting from one signpost to the next on the journey. Maybe they’ll also help you.
In fact, if you have any tools and tips to share on how you have unravelled your own story, I’d love to hear from you – so be sure to leave a comment below.
“Looking back over the course of one’s own days and noticing how encounters and events that appeared at the time to be accidental became the crucial structuring features of an unintended life story through which the potentialities of one’s character were fostered to fulfillment, one may find it difficult to resist the notion of the course of one’s biography as comparable to that of a cleverly constructed novel, wondering who the author of the surprising plot can have been . . .”
Joseph Campbell, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space, p. 110