There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. – CG Jung
There is a powerful belief in our culture that we cannot be whole until we have banished our inner contradictions and our pain. We end up desperately pretending we are OK when we are not, because we are told it is certainly not OK to be in pain or to feel too deeply.
Writers and artists, on the other hand, make it their work to account for both the light and dark of existence. Their calling is to make that which is hidden within themselves and within society visible.
Why do they do this? Perhaps because artists are the mystics and shamans of this age. Their journey through darkness is transformative in a way that the search for happiness will never be. Artists know that the beauty of the human story is in the complex interplay of light and dark, comedy and tragedy. When they make this visible, they affirm the nobility of life as it is – unvarnished, incomplete, broken, divine. They heal by recognising darkness, not banishing it.
What we long for is not to be told we have to be good and get it right but to rest in the knowledge that our contradictions are part of our humanity and simply have to be lived. Artists are the ones who bring us the gift of this knowing.
Russel Brownlee | Writer coach