Monday, April 17, 2006

The Starlight Ballroom

I’ve talked in the past about that mysterious psychological phenomenon, the animus, and mentioned how he seems quite autonomous and often very helpful in times of need. Well, I have a little anecdote to share that illustrates this point quite well. I recently referred to this fellow as Etrae’u, sharing the name with the hero of my most recent fiction work, so I will call him that here as well.

Yesterday was kind of rough in that my mother is suffering some serious health problems, and my dad and I are very worried about her. It was one of those occasions when you stop ignoring the idea of death for awhile and have to face your fears. I have a harmless but sometimes annoying heart condition myself, and as I lay in bed last night, my heart was bumping crazily all over the place. I really had to get a grip so I could get some rest.

As I am wont to do in such circumstances, I sought the help of my animus. I had no idea what would make me feel better and I could only trust that he would guide my imagination to come up with something. He took me by the hand and we found ourselves in the middle of the huge, black expanse of the Universe, sprinkled all over with stars. He led me up a long spiral staircase for a long time, till we got to the top and looked out over the Universe. It was huge and scary and made me feel small and very transitory. I was really pretty terrified contemplating it all.

But Etrae’u just grinned at me as if he weren’t disturbed in the least by the vast emptiness of space. He stepped off the edge of the top of the staircase and strode a few steps and turned around. To my surprise, he wasn’t floating or flying, he was standing. He held out his hand to me to come to him. His cheerful confidence convinced me it was okay to try, so I stepped off the staircase too. Then I realized I wasn’t standing on empty space at all, but on a huge black marble floor that glinted with stars, like tiny bits of mica in rock. It held me up as substantially as any floor would.

It was amazing how comforting it was to have a floor. That sort of made half the hugeness of space shrink to normal earth proportions. There was still infinite sky above, but then, that’s always true if you think about it.

Then I heard an orchestra begin to play a waltz, the song “Out of My Dreams” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical “Oklahoma!”. Etrae’u took my hands and we waltzed to the song, and as we danced and whirled around on that vast black marble floor, he told me, “This place is called the Starlight Ballroom.”

Little by little around us I could see things appearing: tables lit with candles, and people sitting at them having drinks, the orchestra, other dancers, and eventually a sense of walls and a ceiling. I looked down and I was wearing a black formal gown with a full skirt studded with little gems like diamonds, set in constellations like the sky. And my companion was in a black tuxedo.

When the music concluded, we applauded politely, and Etrae’u led me to our table. I sat down, confused and full of wonder, and a waiter came and brought us drinks in martini glasses. The cocktails were clear black liquid that also twinkled like the night sky. I looked at my escort with confusion, but he just toasted me with a smile. I drank, and looked around at the place, and it was just a very lovely and elegant club full of people enjoying themselves.

“It isn’t bad at all, now is it?” asked Etrae’u.

“Not when it’s the Starlight Ballroom instead of the Universe,” I told him.

“And what’s the difference?” he asked.

I thought about this for a minute, and the words he spoke next all rang true. Etrae’u told me, “The Universe is frightening because it makes you feel like you don’t matter. Whether you live or die, what difference does it make? You’re not even a speck in all that vastness. It doesn’t care, it offers no comfort. But this club, this ballroom, is different. It belongs to you. I mean, you can comprehend it: the music, the space, the pleasant things happening in it. You can get your mind around it and make it part of what you understand and control.”

“That’s all very true,” I agreed.

“But you see,” said Etrae’u, “the Universe is the Starlight Ballroom. That’s what you need to understand. Don’t feel that because it’s big and mysterious that it doesn’t belong to you. It does. Life, now and beyond life, belong to you. The Universe is your place to dance in, that’s the reason it’s here.”

“I’d like to put this in my blog,” I told him. (See, I’m thinking of you, readers!) “But I guess it doesn’t have anything much to do with sex.”

“Actually, it does,” he said, laughing. “I’ll show you what I mean. Take a good look at me, and if you’re still feeling a little bad, it might help.”

So I did look at him, sitting across the table from me in his tux. You have to understand he’s the most attractive guy in the world to me. So of course, I felt a little tug of desire for him. And it did make me feel better.

He went on, “The saying goes that love makes the world go round, and it’s true that all good things come out of love. But it’s sex that holds the world together. That yearning for intimacy, that desire for beauty, the union of opposites, the urge to create...all those sex-things hold the ballroom and the Universe together. And no matter how much you feel like death is the greatest power in the Universe, love and sex always win in the end, and life and beauty and joy go on.”

I’m not sure writing this down can do justice to the understanding I gleaned from this thing my animus showed me. But here it is, take from it what you will. I felt better and my heart settled down, and I went to sleep.


laura said...

Fascinating post, I am a great fan of Jung and have always been intrigued by the "anima" and "shadow" theories. I am so glad you posted on my blog and left your link as I have admired that poem of yours for so long, (even before I knew you were a Cub fan!) You could count me in as a Diana Laurence fan as well now!

Con said...

Hi Diane,
Wow...what an awesome post.
It made me think about my Animus and how I have neglected him of late. Going to "fantasy", instead...when I am in trouble.
It is amazing how they can help..... and from such a great and intimate distance too.
Since my Animus is based on a real man who is realistically losing his sex appeal for me, I have lost interest. I have replaced him with wahtever sexual fantasy man I fancy. But that is something completely different. The Animus is beyond all that and yet is .... "all that". I see now that I am wrong. My Animus is eternally as gorgeous as I need him to be. His "twin" on earth has nothing to do with him or us. So, thank for reminding me.
Hope things with Mom have improved.


Diana Laurence said...

Thanks, Laura, we Jung/Cubs fans must stick together! I'm so glad you liked the baseball poem...not everyone looks at baseball quite that way... :-)

Thanks, Con--love your phrase "a great and intimate distance"! That just says it. It can be a little rough when the animus abandons using a particular bearer that you've simply gotten over for some reason or another. But then he does pop up again someplace new!