“Jung wrote that the way to discover your myth, to discern your true identity is to observe your dreams, observe your conscious choices, keep a journal, see which images and stories surface and resonate and speak to you. Look at stories and symbols and see which reflect your heart and soul.”
I read all of Jon’s blog posts. Sometimes he asks me to read them before he puts them up, when he wants to know what I think. Last week he wrote about my trip to India and when I read in it Carl Jung’s idea of how to discover your own myth and identity, it stuck with me.
I kept going back to it, because it I saw myself, my life so clearly in it. All the things Jung mentions, observing dreams and conscious choices, keeping a journal and paying attention to the images and stories that surface and resonate and speak to you.
All these things are just what I’ve been doing for the past seven or eight years with my art and my blog.
By being aware of the archetypes and the stories and images of the past and present, the ones that have meaning for me, I’ve been discovering who I really am.
And what I want my life to be.
It started when I was inspired by the aesthetics and philosophy from the women of Gees Bend to make my quilts. Like any artist studying the master, I borrowed from them until my quilts started to bear my own signature, my own voice. It was, through Carl Sandburg’s poem Aprons of Silence and the quilt I made from his words that I was able to understand the depth of my voicelessness and my desire to be heard.
Finding my strength, I stitched affirmations on hundreds of potholders. Words like “I Am” and ” A Strong Center and Open Heart”, until I believed it of myself.
I looked to Clarissa Pinkham Estes interpretations of the fairy tales I grew up with and never understood what they meant until I was in my 50’s. And I looked further to the ancient goddesses, to their images and symbols.
I told my dreams to anyone who would listen, speaking them out loud, writing them down, and making them into art, so that I could interpret their true meaning. I took images and feelings from the space between waking and sleeping and brought them to my work.
And then I wrote about it all on my blog, a new and at first, difficult, way for me to communicate. It was frightening for me to speak out, it was dangerous.
I posted my images for anyone who wanted to see them. And I took the stories of the people who sent me messages on my blog as seriously as I took the ancient myths. Because, I believe, it doesn’t matter who or where the story comes from, it only matters that they spark something in me.
This and every story I read or image I saw that touched me influenced my work. I brought it right in, often not even understanding its meaning, but feeling its pull. I internalized it. And I trusted it.
Because of all of this, all I’ve done so far, I’ve come to understand and see who I really am. Not who I think I am or who other people may believe me to be. But to see the light of my true self.
So where does this leave me?
Last week I got a letter with a check in it for my trip to India and a note from Sherry. She wrote: ” …thank you for stepping up and agreeing to undertake this challenge, and for you generosity in showing your art”.
I had to read it twice.
Because I didn’t see what I was doing as challenging and generous. To me, what I do seems almost selfish. Because both these things, making this trip to India and sharing my art are both things I want to do so much.
But when I think about it, I can see what Sherry is saying. Because I haven’t always felt this way. I used to be too afraid to show my work and couldn’t even have dreamed of taking a trip like the one I’m taking to India.
But now I can see the myth that is mine. It is my story, my life.
And this “challenge”, as Sherry calls it, is a part of it.
It’s happening because I asked for it. And I asked for it, because I now know it’s my story.
I don’t know what will come of it. How it will turn out. But I’m going to do what I have to, to step up to it. And answer my calling. To live the myth that I now understand to me mine.