I was engaged in a 'lite' version of an ‘active imagination’ exercise while driving to work today, and was so engaged that one of the champions of the said exercise joined me. The conversation with Carl Jung was interesting, to say the least, but maybe not in terms of immediately solving life challenges. As it was, an uncertain number of cars flying by either side of me brought me to the realization that I was moving much slower than surrounding traffic. This was not due to the activity itself, but to the very real fact that I was sharing the lane with a cement truck. My reduced speed was appropriate as well as the spacing between me and the truck. It wasn’t like the truck snuck up on me. Clearly I had responded to the truck accordingly, but now, faced with the reality of the truck, and witnessing people flying by, while searching for opportunities to skirt around said tuck, I found myself experiencing noticeable frustration. I was unwilling to jump out in front of the oncoming stream of traffic on either side of me because of my reduced speed and fear of collision. I blamed myself for being stuck, thinking ‘clearly had I been more focused or present I could have avoided this obstacle and been further along in my journey.’
“I’m stuck,” I said.
Carl Jung advised me to sit with it.
“Why? Oh, is this a metaphor for my life?” I asked.
“No, no, no,” Jung said, the same way Yoda might express frustration with Luke. “If you’re going to practice active imagination, you never interpret the symbolic nature of the agents during engagement, but only after. During the commencement of the act, you simply must remain aware and present as you would in any conscious endeavor.”
“So, the truck is an agent?” I asked.
“It’s definitely a character to which you’re responding. Why don’t you ask it?” Jung asked.
“It’s that easy?”
“Not only do I advise asking all agents in your life their purpose, I also highly recommend expressing gratitude for its presence. You were asleep when you came upon it, but now you are awake and aware,” Jung said.
I considered this as I watched the barrel turning. “I’m not stuck,” I said. “I may be going slower, but I am moving, and it seems reasonable to speculate that the cement truck doesn’t necessarily mean stuck in its own right. It’s churning. My thoughts are churning. And with the proper mold, the contents might become a substantial structure for support.”
“I couldn’t have said it better myself,” Jung said.
At which point, the lane we were in allowed for egress off the freeway, which the cement truck took, allowing me to accelerate unimpeded. Interestingly enough, simultaneously with my ability to advance, traffic mysteriously cleared up on my left, so even if the truck had remained, I would have been able to escape around it. Could there have been any more synchronicity in life?
Life responded with a John Lennon song. “I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round.” Jung joined in: “I really love to watch them roll,” bobbing his head. This game I have taken up, the ‘active imagination game,’ is simply bizarre. “I just had to let it go…” It occurred to me as I was listening to this song, again, very present, I have never really ‘heard’ this song before, but have only sung it while asleep. I was excited and scared at the same time. Life.
I express genuine gratitude to all the agents, past, present, and future, that have helped mold my life, and hope it substantial enough to allow others to advance boldly, where I presently go but timidly.