I thought about titling this post “Be Careful What You Wish For.”
After many years of wanting to bring my work more into the public eye, I was invited last fall to present a program to our local Jung Society. Originally, I was going to talk about my dissertation and how it had opened me up to the imaginal world. In the end, though, I decided to talk about the imaginal world itself, and how it manifests in our lives.
“Encountering the Imaginal,” presented in early April of this year, was a huge success. There were more than 60 people there, and—unusual for our group—nearly half of them were men. They weren’t coming specifically to hear me, since almost no one there had ever heard me speak.
I had a blast, and there were lots of good comments and questions, both during the talk and afterwards. Since then, clients have come looking for me, and both sessions of the study group I’m offering as a follow-up to the talk are nearly full. Wow….
Clearly, this is a topic that many people are interested in. We all want to make sense of our lives, and our culture doesn’t have a framework for understanding non-rational experiences unless they’re of a strictly religious nature—yet we all have them. My work is a step toward developing the kind of framework that will allow us to use these experiences as information, in the same way we use anything else that happens to us.
The success of the talk would would have been terrific all by itself. But even more exciting, my own personal growth has kicked into overdrive, and my imaginal friends are hovering around, anxious to help both me personally and all the people I’m encountering. Again, wow….
So. That’s fine, but what does that yellow-painted thumbnail in the photo have to do with anything?
Well, does anyone remember “Red”? A life-changing exploration of the archetypal power of that color, and of what it meant in my own life, accomplished through focusing on and surrounding myself with the color red in every form I could imagine. A wrenching and transformative experience it was, for sure, but not one that I really want to replicate.
I’m now working on “Yellow,” which has shown up in a big way of late. I’m hoping it’s not quite as exciting an experience as Red was. Yellow, it turns out, is a color I’ve avoided even more than I used to avoid Red. Hmmm….
Yellow: Caution, or warning—road signs, school buses, police tape. Warning—bees and wasps. “Notice me! And stay away, or else!” Consequences. Cowardice.
Yellow: Cheerfulness. Sunny mornings and blowing curtains in my mother’s kitchen. Sunflowers, forsythia, daffodils—Mom’s favorite flowers.
Unlike Red’s sturdy, solid presence, Yellow in its bright phase seems loud, aggressive, and belligerent. “Look at me!” it screams. Softer yellows, like butter or lemon, are gentle…but I still don’t like them.
Isn’t it interesting that Red is RED, and only Red. Versions of red have their own names: rust, pink, rose…. Yellow—in all its forms—is still yellow, modified by a separate word. Except maybe butterscotch, which is yummy.
Well, we shall see. For now, the only things I possess that are yellow are these thumbnails of mine, screaming at me as I type this. I can’t yet bring me to go find any clothing in yellow, not even a scarf. But I’m working up my courage.
To be continued, I have no doubt…..