This week I tackled another one of my struggles besides waiting, that is relationships. The first little fable, which I call the lovers, is about the kind of relationships that doesn’t last or the kind where two people are together, sometimes for a long time, but living separate lives side by side. Then more rare is the opposite story, the partners, where the two people form a real unit and even after years together still manage to surprise and learn from each other.
Growing up I had the example of my parents having the second type of relationship. It’s what felt normal to aspire to. My parents were very lucky, because one, it’s rare to meet someone you feel that sort of connection with, and two, even if you do meet that person or think you do, it doesn’t always work out.
At the time I made the first drawing I had just installed a hummingbird feeder by my front door and there were two of them that kept coming and chasing each other with a friendly buzz. I immediately felt an affinity with the little birds so when looking for what would be “my” animal symbol I naturally turned to the hummingbird. And along with it, the tree, houses, and water from the fountain. The funny thing about hummingbirds is that despite their common association with marriage and happy relationships, the real birds are pretty independent and change partners every season.
Originally the drawing for my portrait was meant to illustrate this sort of new gift I discovered, that is having an intuitive sense about people by feeling the harmony between us through the collective unconscious.
Later on I discovered Carl Jung’s concept of the shadow and started to experiment adding an opposite to all my drawings. I revisited this one last year, taking a new look at the symbolism and what the opposite drawing could be. I won’t get into the details, but it involves Jung’s theory of the male and female in all of us and how it affects our relationships.
Essentially to become whole we need to unite the male and female parts of our psyche. Picture the round tree as the male part and the house as the female part. The fish is a symbol of this unification and water is the unconscious through which we are all connected. I imagined a pair of doves living in the garden Joseph Campbell talks about in The Power of Myth, protected by two guardians we need to get passed to be able to enter, that is desire and fear.