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Clear as a bell

Posted in Life & Love, and Uncategorized

Prickly cactusLife can be muddy sometimes. Our time on earth is defined by constant decisions, big and small. It’s usually the more momentous ones that can be hard, until the moment the veil parts and it all becomes, well, crystal clear. Mostly.

I think it was my father who introduced me to the concept of making lists of pros and cons. It never worked for me – I would diligently draw a line in the center of a white sheet and start writing: pros on the left, cons on the right. I was usually stumped after 2 or 3 per column, with nothing ever weighing heavily in any one direction.

sofagirl recently mentioned finding and reading an old journal she kept during a particular trying time. “It was full of stuff I had forgotten! Some of it so bad I don’t understand how I lasted as long as I did”.

I also reread some of my old journals a while ago and  was amazed by a) the number of people I was writing about and of whom I have no recollection and b) the outcome of agonizing situations already all over my words – only I seemed still too blind to see.

Don’t we make a million split decisions every day? What to eat, what road to drive down, whether to answer the phone….I believe we are wired to do that, to trust our better judgment, accumulated over years of experience, of life – yet, as we get older, we are plagued by what ifs and worst case scenarios that bog us down. We call it caution.

Clarity is a wonderful state to be in: residing in the conviction of doing what is right for us at that very moment, all doubts cast aside. And we don’t get up one day with a clear-cut vision of what our direction should be like, I don’t think. Our accumulated experiences, trials and errors lead us to clarity.

Quote_Carl-jung-on-clarity-of-visionIn youth, we follow instincts mixed with a touch of foolishness. In middle age, it should be knowledge, of ourselves and our world, that should ease us into making swift decisions, leading us to a state of clarity. There is no more mistaking right from wrong; moral from immoral; we don’t operate solely on selfishness any longer and yet, we muddle through – looking for what makes sense. Instead of trusting what we already know.

Personally, I err on the side of following my instincts a bit too much, leaving my unconscious to work things out until it’s ready to let me know which way to go. Sometimes it takes longer than I would want. It works for me, and probably for very many like me, but if I objectively looked at the sum of my experiences and my personal reactions to situations over the last 50 years, I can’t help thinking I would come to mostly the same outcomes in half the time. Because, at this point, we know a lot more than we give ourselves credit for. Everything we have forgotten has still worked its way to shape who we are – letting our wisdom take over, now and then, might make for a smoother, and clearer, path.

“Mystification is simple; clarity is the hardest thing of all.”  Julian Barnes (from Flaubert’s Parrot)



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  1. silvia

    I recently attended a lecture held by a bunch of Jungian therapists who shared their studies on projection. You would have loved it.
    What I found out is this technique they call “active immagination” where through the therapist guide you keep getting connected to your unconscious thus nurturing your consciousness.
    If I can get rid of these crutches I mean to deepen this subject, too fascinating.

    October 27, 2013
    • I think I would have. You know my passion for Jung. Now, though, concentrate on your crutches…

      October 28, 2013
    • Oh dear god, how could you tell what was real and what was someone else’s movie. Terrifying. I hope they served wine. Always helped me with clarity. HAH

      October 31, 2013
  2. ” Will I or won’t I ? One way to avoid the angst of making those fifty / fifty calls is to put oneself under so much time pressure that the reflex response becomes the only option. If it turns out bad then it’s not your fault; it’s pressure of work .

    October 21, 2013
    • That’s a way of doing it. My problem is that I always think I have all the time in the world…until I don’t.

      October 22, 2013
  3. Nicely timed post. I am trying to make a decision about my next career move, and I am pretty sure I have already made up my mind. Now I just need my rational brain to catch up with my gut feeling.

    October 21, 2013
    • Good luck, whatever your decision. Maybe you will enlighten us on your blog as to your process?

      October 22, 2013

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