Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth

One of my favorite stories about C.G. Jung is a reported dream where he was drowning in a vat of human waste and calling "Help me out!" to his therapist, who stood on the rim of the vat. Instead of taking his outstretched hand the therapist pushed Jung's head down into the liquid, saying, "Through, not out."

That's often what it feels like when I commit to greater self-awareness and then see what I've gotten myself into: "Get me out of this!" No matter how innovative my efforts, there's a quality of struggling in, yes, a vat of shit.

I recently watched an episode of "John Adams," where Adams teaches one of his sons about the virtues of manure, insisting that the young man mash it around with his hands. Adams' recipe for compost would delight today's organic gardeners -- seaweed, marsh mud, dead ashes, rock weed, livestock waste, kitchen scraps.

My own dung has a similar variety -- scraps of history; ashes I thought were dead; a deep sea of muddy droppings from unconscious creature selves; weeds I'd imagined pulled forever; the waste of years spent serving an ego-image.

I keep in mind this quote from William Bryant Logan's Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth: "Not only the grain in the mealbag, but the full-blown rose are, in one sense, the gift of turds."