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Basem Salieem

With a loud piercing cry, the bare chested Native American warrior hurled his tomahawk at John Weir Perry with full force. John told me that at the last second in the dream, he caught it between both his palms just before it was buried in his heart. “Yes!” cried Jung- “See, your inner wild man is demanding your attention!” That was the memorable response to the 22 year old Perry, who had just bravely and fatefully brought his dramatic dream to “the dream master” that morning, after the first night he had slept under the same roof with Jung.

It was 1936 and Jung was staying at Perry’s house while on a trip to America for an honor given him at Harvard. Perry had picked him up at the train station and was amazed that the reserved, Germanic style scholar/physician he had expected to meet was instead a loud, boisterous and earthy, very physically powerful man.

Michael Cornwall

What do I like and dislike?’ It took me a while, and I was depressed going back into my concerns and my politics. But there was a shift that had already happened. And the shift was, ‘Wait a second. If I can put Jim Carrey aside for four months, who is Jim Carrey? Who the hell is that?’ … I know now he does not really exist. He’s ideas. … Jim Carrey was an idea my parents gave me. Irish-Scottish-French was an idea I was given. Canadian was an idea that I was given. I had a hockey team and a religion and all of these things that cobble together into this kind of Frankenstein monster, this representation. It’s like an avatar. These are all the things I am. You are not an actor, or a lawyer. No one is a lawyer. There are lawyers, law is practiced, but no one is a lawyer. There is no one, in fact, there.” Jim Carry

We can live our whole lives thinking we’re something we’re not. The real self is in there but it might be covered over with a collection of received ideas we haven’t examined. Ideas that seem more attractive than the natural energies that want to live through us. We may be spending energy trying not to be who we are, like trying to shush boisterous children.

Animals don’t do this. They don’t try to pretend they are better or different than they are. Humans have an idea of “identity”, how they may appear in another person’s eyes, how they impress or don’t impress.

As you get older you notice that you start to care less about the figure you cut in the world. It hardly seems to matter anymore what image you create in someone else’s brain. You have more important things to think about. Your deepest self has a reason for being here and the time you’re given isn’t infinite.

Getting to the realest self is the work of a lifetime for some of us. Many incarnations will be developed and abandoned at the right time. There is no standing still. Perspectives change depending upon life stages. You may progress from young fool to wise elder as you are schooled by a combination of treasures won and severe blows to cherished hopes and possessions.

Or you may become an old fool because you got stuck at an early stage. An old person imitating youth is unfortunate in that a deepening is missed. Facing death with a sense of a larger meaning within the context of an individual life is an achievement of maturity. Living a life as yourself is a gift in which death comes at the appropriate time with a sense of rightness.

I was impressed with my father’s attitude as he approached ninety years of age. He simply said “I loved all you kids. Now I’m ready to go.” I couldn’t imagine embracing the end so readily, but I admired his matter-of-fact attitude. I don’t think he had achieved all his projects or even attained much wisdom, but he gave it his all and was tired at the end.

I have a lot of sympathy for what people go through. If you live a full life, you suffer. If you play it safe, you suffer too. The important thing is to go through life as yourself so that you’ll have a real life experience. Will it hurt? Yes, sometimes it will, but living with the courage to be what you are makes it worthwhile.

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