What world will we create in moving forward? This is the question on the top of my mind and has been for weeks now. I'd also love to know when we'll be able to move freely about and create that world more tangibly. However, we will continue physical distancing to protect those most vulnerable and ourselves alike. In this time, I am reminded that I and we are recreating today a new future. One that we will soon enough be able to physically step into if you will.
I'm going to make a massive pivot here and introduce Carl Jung, the esteemed psychologist, and the concept of the shadow self that he popularized in his work. To Jung, the shadow was an essential element of the personality just beyond the conscious reach, if you will, of the ego, and could be positive or negative. For Jung, the shadow exerted a force on the individual like the moon's influence on the tides—invisible, but the effects were undeniable.
I've found myself confronted, uncomfortably so, in a new way in these past few weeks. It's as if someone walked around the halls of my shadow self with a flashlight. It's been nothing short of jarring. My resistance has been formidable.
Coming into contact with this part of the self is scary for many of us. Still, I find there to be an added layer when one's identity is, in part, founded on a sense of self-awareness and authenticity. As I've come to see these parts of me that I keep locked away to protect them from the harshness of this world, you see how this represents something of an identity crisis.
For all of us, the exploration of the shadow side—the dark side of the moon—is a scary proposition, as I mentioned before, but it is truly an invitation. It is standing at the precipice of wholeness. For in this exploration, it is like descending down straight into the infinite hole we have spent our lives trying to fill unsuccessfully.
The shadow is not a place that will keep us captive; we will return from our journey, braver, more joyous, whole, but to a degree wounded. We will see things about ourselves that, by definition, we have tried to keep desperately hidden from consciousness for years, decades even. Here, we have the opportunity to bring tenderness to the vulnerable parts of you that haven't seen the light of day for too long. Here, we are free to be more than a persona, or a character, that we fashioned as children who have kept us safe but holds us back at times.
I can show love, compassion, and even empathy for the parts of me that fear abandonment, being overly emotional and soft, and tragically and fatally defective. I can bring these parts into a relationship with myself, my closest relationships with others, and eventually into the world at large once they are sufficiently loved and cared for.
You see, to create a new world in moving forward, I believe that we have an invitation to recreate our internal worlds first. When we recreate, we are recreating a whole-hearted world. We are recreating a world communally that we are cultivating—that in a way, we must cultivate—simultaneously internally. Because you see, the shadow is not just a personal trait, but a communal one as well.
Thus, as we familiarize ourselves with our own shadow, we will find that we are also getting to know the shadow that we all share. We will experience that shadow in the social contracts and agreements we have and continue to negotiate as a community and society. Bluntly, our society is broken today. Many of us are painfully aware of this.
The imperative is plain: will we recreate the broken past or forge a whole-hearted future together?
I see firebrands of radical care, compassion, and inclusion. But there is a lot of anger and fear at work. I'm afraid that there is enough mistrust that we have bought into the lie of scarcity sufficiently, to snuff out these precious flames. I do not advocate that we burn down the whole thing, but I am confident that there is much of this machine that needs to be devoured by the flames of our love and justice. Are you with me?