“Often the hands know how to solve a riddle with which the intellect has wresled in vain.” Carl Jung, The Transcendent Function in Collected Works Vol 8
Although, I often seem to have good insights into others and their problems. I can be completely blind to my own issues. When faced with a feeling of a loss of control, such as retiring during a pandemic, my ego kicks in working vigorously to create a sense of control and protect from psychological icebergs – the kind that can sink psychological ships. I like to present myself as being in control.
Since retiring on June 1st of this year, I have been asked many times, “Why don’t you go play golf? Why don’t you go fishing? Why don’t you…?” Instead, I fill my days with working outside around our five acres. I have so many projects lined up, Fences to build, gardens to take down, paint this, fix that – I easily have 50 projects on my To-Do list. It is almost an obsession. No, it is an obsession. But, why? Why am I trying to fill up every minute of my life with a project, bouncing from one idea to the next? Before retiring, I was not like this. Is this another ego driven thing or is something else – or is it both?
I’ll do you a big favor and avoid discussing the author of the quote at the top. For me, and from my experiences, Carl Jung, the Swiss psychoanalyst, offers many rabbit holes to explore – or just accidentally fall into – and I find a lot of commonality with Jung. I read that quote this evening. Are all these projects I am doing just my hands way of saying, “Okay, brain and ego, you’ve struggled long enough trying to come up with a vision for the future, a sense of purpose, a roadmap from here to there. We’re taking over now.”
In this way, the “hands” seem to represent an unconscious approach producing subtle, dream-like insights, where as the intellect is more linear and often muddled up with one’s ego involvement. Without really knowing it, I think I have used this “hands on” approach before in my life during times of uncertainty. I suddenly left a job as a Child Protective Social Worker many years ago as I was not happy with the direction of my life. The job was eating me up. For the following few years, to the dismay of many, I opened and operated a roadside fruit stand, eventually selling trees and other nursery stock too. I worked with my hands all day long as my brain was confused about what I should do with my life. Eventually, I saw a future in going back to college and getting a master’s degree in accountancy which eventually led to a wonderful career supporting first generation college students. I never really used the accounting skills, only to teach a few classes for a couple of semesters.
Maybe I just need to let my hands do the thinking admitting I don’t have the answers that I thought would be so easy to find. So tomorrow, I am going to keep cleaning up the garden area, weed around all the lavender plants, paint the trim for the outside windows, get the flat tire fixed on the riding lawnmower, water the trees, start cleaning out the garage, prune the roses,…oh yeah, it is the first day of Autumn, plant some more lettuce, see if I can build a little greenhouse and grow a few tomatoes…
Very inspiring post, it reminds me of my journey when I left my business career. From my perception, when creativity is limited and there’s an opportunity to express it and discover purpose, it just flows like a waterfall. Better said by a true master of nature and life:
“He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist” Francis of Assisi
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What a wonderful quote and comments. I wear a St. Francis medal around my neck and touch it in the morning as a reminder that Creator is everywhere and in everything….and then I forget it by about 10 am and have to begin again.
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I think it’s great to build and create, Gary. I heard somewhere, that you should always leave a place better than when you arrived. Whether it’s improving your physical surrounding or supporting the people. Isn’t that how the monks contemplated, toiling in the fields. You don’t happen to brew beer, do you?
Hi Len, yes I think you are absolutely right. And, yes, I have brewed beer a couple of times. I put labels on it, Crazy Ass and one being Dumb Ass. And the other day I was walking thru the grocery store and saw a commercially produced beer with similar names. One of my son in laws and his buddies got into my home brew during a camping trip…many empty bottles.
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Gary it sounds to me as if you are gradually adjusting to this new stage of your life, keeping busy, having vision, and creating a wonderful space out of love and hard work where you and your family can feel safe and relaxed and build a new future together with many happy memories.
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