In my past experience when something was broken beyond repair, I recall having trouble accepting it and moving on. I felt I needed to go back and find the lost object, or spend considerable effort and time fixing what was not fixable, whether an object or a person, relationship or situation. Sometimes my love or longing provided the glue that bound the fragments together; others, my anger. I remember a power struggle with a relative over heirlooms, for example, that lasted for several years. Even after the heirlooms were recovered, the energy of that power struggle continued. Recently, in fact, this 15-year-old energy has resurfaced in my loved one and stands there, hands alternately stretched forth with pleading or raising an angry fist, urging me to rumble.
I lack the energy to rumble. My energy wants to sink down and dream, to go to a place where I finally accept a dull sort of depressed waiting in which I do not need to carry much with me and do not even have an identity to show others. The metaphor of my stolen billfold and driver’s license some a few months ago was useful, for it put the question to me bluntly: To what end was I robbed, my identity taken? To what purpose am I now compelled to discover how to show you who I am without my emblems of identity? What new emblems are necessary for the journey ahead?
The sinking down of a depression may be consciously chosen or may come upon a person as “an unwelcome intrusion from the unconscious” (CW 8, para. 167). I have experienced both the chosen and the unchosen depression, and am working at accepting all the irreparably damaged parts of my psyche and holding them until the experience and feeling of sitting here with them is accomplished and some kind of recollection, renewal, or transformation occurs. That the power or spirit or energy to transform lies within myself is very clear, for recently I had a big dream and the numinosity of its characters fills me with awe and gratitude every time I think of them. I see these contents approaching, but they are not yet conscious to me and I resist them when I act; so I choose to wait. Stand and wait, or sit and wait, and sometimes even lie down on the ground and stare up at the sky and wait.
Literature is replete with tales of those who come to times like this, places in which a person is suspended among choices that present tests of character with the direst consequences. In Tolkien’s The Two Towers, for example, ring-bearer Frodo is poisoned by the giant spider, Shelob, and believed dead. His faithful companion, Samwise Gangee, is alone, grief-stricken, and torn among the choices before him. He can make revenge his aim by pursuing Gollum, the creature who led them to their fatal encounter with the giant spider. He can remain where he is, overwhelmed by his grief over the loss of his best friend. Or he can choose to join Frodo in death–run himself through with a blade or throw himself off the cliff.
He looked on the bright point of the sword. He thought of the places behind where there was a black brink and an empty fall into nothingness. There was no escape that way. That was to do nothing, not even to grieve. That was not what he had set out to do. “What am I to do then?” he cried again, and now he seemed plainly to know the hard answer: see it through. Another lonely journey, and the worst (From Ch. 10, “The Choices of Master Samwise,” The Two Towers).
Sam reluctantly takes the Ring and all the necessary equipment he needs from the body of his dead friend, and sets off on his own to complete the journey fate has thrust upon him.
It is no accident that Sam must set out alone and at night. Jung wrote that even when no tangible mood or depression calls a person into the night journey, a general dullness, discontentment, resistance to everything, boredom, vague disgust, or “an indefinable but excruciating emptiness” may do the work of a depression. “In these cases, ” wrote Jung, “no definite starting point exists–it would first have to be created. Here a special introversion of libido is necessary, supported perhaps by favourable external conditions, such as complete rest, especially at night, when the libido has in any case a tendency to introversion (CW 8, para. 169).
‘Tis night: now do all fountains speak louder. And my soul also is a bubbling fountain. (Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, XXXI).