Carl Jung encouraged us to look on trivial events as metaphors, small dramas giving us advice, confirming our decisions or supporting us in some way. Given that metaphors are figures of speech that appear in high school English classes and usually are left far behind at graduation, Jung’s insightful tip appears now to be blowing in the wind.
Not always. Although it was a windy day, his words were not blowing my way as I paced the sidewalks in my neighborhood park, rehearsing the presentation I was due to give the next day to parents on the benefits of having their children’s energy charts done. The charts are a great aid for understanding on a deep subtle level especially gifted, introverted, artistically inclined or otherwise difficult-to-raise children and teenagers.
Now, too much rehearsing definitely is not good for me. It upsets my stomach, constricts my throat as it tightens my vocal chords and – most of all – turns my knowledge, wisdom and carefully-prepared words into a paralyzed blank.
It’s a miracle I noticed the crow. It had been flying circles over my head in the wind, skillfully dodging other crows intent on relieving it of the contents of its beak. Another crow nearly collided with it overhead. The abrupt movement made the crow cry out as it sent what looked like a piece of bread tumbling to the ground right in front of me.
As I kicked it away into the grass, Carl Jung and what I had read long ago about metaphors being a heuristic method of intuitive help were the furthest thing from my mind.
I think it was the fact that what the crow dropped was brown and gooey and left some frosting on my shoe that made me take a closer look. It was not a piece of bread, but a piece of cake. Chocolate cake.
As I stared at the piece of cake, something inside me was screaming, “What are you looking at?”
“A piece of cake,” I almost screamed back. Can inner voices be that dumb?
A piece of cake! It suddenly hit me. The few odd words of Jung I remembered pushed into my consciousness. I was looking at a heuristic metaphorical drama (a bit like a charade) that was acted out for me. After all, the piece of cake fell right in front of me.
In other words, maybe this piece of cake was telling me that my presentation was going to be… you guessed it… a piece of cake! Easy. So, why worry? Why over-rehearse? And why not give the crow a chance?
“Experiment!” an inner voice crowed.
It was a struggle, but I made myself remember that piece of cake all that evening and the following morning, especially as I stood before the assembled group of parents.
And what do you know? The crow was right. My presentation felt remarkably easy, and several parents signed up to have their teenagers’ energy charts done right on the spot. It was a piece of cake.
And when I was alone, I howled with laughter.
Experiment and see if trivial events are talking to you:
- Be aware of what is preoccupying you.
- At the same time, watch out for any slightly unusual drama occurring around you.
- Match up the two as you play charades with the trivial event, naming and renaming it until it speaks to your preoccupation.
- If the message is negative in any way, ignore it.
- If it is positive and helpful, rejoice emotionally in the help, suggestion or confirmation you are being given.
- Say thanks, and live it and be amazed.