Learning to Love--First, learn to know yourself.
Thursday, February 12, 1998
When John Cowper Powys defined truth as a "monstrous container of insoluble contradictions" he could have said the same about love!
Because try as we might, men and women have, from the time romantic love was discovered by the troubadours of the 13th century, been confounded, confused and bewildered by the inordinate energy we consume gnashing teeth, knocking heads, and wailing woes.
When we fall in love, we see Salvation for our loneliness in the other''s eyes. And though it may take a lot or a little time, the Contradictions between our expectations and reality become evident. For both we and the other seem to have fallen from the pedestal of god-likeness, and realize our earthy mortality.
But not so fast-because we continue to couple, and our Orgasms bring us to the enchantments and ecstasies which Carl Jung, the noted Swiss psychologist has called "participation in the divine." And that activity alone tends to redeem the many Rejections we feel in the round of mere existence. Try as we might, and most of us try very hard indeed, to make our "in love" relationships work, we are all too often caught up in moods of unaccountable emptiness. So the possibility of Entropy (the steady degradation or disorganization of a relationship) setting in becomes almost inevitable.
Please note the initial bold letters of five words that spell SCORE.a word that our sports-conscious culture cares about a lot. My purpose in using the acronym here is this: Knowing the "score" about ourselves-the difference between our inner and outer lives-is the single most important thing we can do to live happier and more productive lives.
Instead of seeing the "other" as our salvation, we must discover what it is within us that needs to be saved. What am I lacking? Who hasn''t learned, even a little bit, about one''s own blind spots when we''ve fallen out of love?
Learning just a little bit can become the beginning to the discovering of the many contradictions we harbor in our hearts and minds. Just recall for a moment the contorted facial features of your loved one during an angry spat over "nothing!" And then look to your own reaction. Do you "see" ambiguity in your feelings? Yes, we can all be glib about love/hate relationships but how many can concede the roots of such as being within ourselves?
Living consciously within the tension of the opposites (I want and I don''t want) or the Biblical "That which I wouldst, I do not; that which I wouldst not, that I do!"-is said to be a mark of maturity.
But no matter how aware we may become of the vast distance from our expectations we''ve come in our relationship, when we are embedded in each other''s arms, the ecstasies of our biological and spiritual instincts take over and we get a new lease on love-for a while, anyway. But that''s often more than enough to get us up onto a more fulfilling level of relationship-which we must do. Otherwise the paradox of the post-coital rejection syndrome may take its toll, and spreads like wildfire to a feeling of alienation from the world at large.
By avoiding that, we can take a giant stride away from the almost certain state of entropy-a kind of living death-which all too often is the fate of many relationships in today''s world.
So knowing the "score" about ourselves-how our inner worlds, inner feelings, inner thoughts, inner perceptions-are all creating the world "out there" and shaping the quality of our emotional lives, is important.
How to understand and accept those inner ambituities and paradoxes?
It''s no easy matter. There are always new and better ways to live and love just waiting to be discovered. We can better explore those ways by being constantly aware of the score, within ourselves, of the honesty and love we bear unto ourselves.
Joseph Pagano, 82, directs the activities of the Monterey Peninsula Friends of Jung. He lives in Monterey with his wife Phoebe, his stepson Jack and his 6-year-old daughter Alexis Mary, who gives him daily lessons in learning how to love!