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Row Your Boat

There were always those people that amazed me with their clarity of vision for their own futures. I’ve often wondered about those with such a clear vision. They always seemed to know exactly what they wanted – they always had a plan on how to achieve it. I have a sort of admiration for those that have their act together enough to have a vision and a plan to get there. I’m a little jealous.

After high school they knew where they were going to college. After college they knew where they were going to work. After working for a while they knew that they would get married and where they were going to live and how many children they were going to have. We all have friends like this. I have many friends like this. One by one I have watched as their plans have splintered, unraveled, and just fallen apart. The energy it takes to hold to the vision must be exhausting. In personality terms, these are the folks that love certainty and predictability. They wonder why people do dangerous things.

From the perspective of a psyche, the more certain the ego is of doing something the more obstacles there will be to overcome. Jung called this the ‘transcendent function’. It’s a kind of pressure valve on the ego and it goes into action exactly when we wouldn’t want it to. Imagine walking up to the stage to receive the award that you are absolutely certain you deserve and you trip and fall walking up the stairs. This is the transcendent function in action. It keeps things like pride in check. I’m not saying that having a plan is a bad thing. A plan is a great thing. However, without any built in flexibility a plan is certain to fall apart. Be open to what comes and try to welcome adventure. Or in other words…

Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily. Life is but a dream.

Comments (3):

  1. Ela

    July 29, 2010 at 11:24 am

    In other words, follow your passions, not your goals. When we set and pursue goals, we often put blinders on and miss all the opportunities on the way. By following our passions, our dreams, we can remain open to everything on the way, soak it in, allow others to walk into our lives and offer enthusiasm, guidance, and anything else that we may need but not be aware of at the time. Paint a picture of our passions, keep these within our sights; but the road to these passions will be twisted, curvy, and full of relationships built with others who have common ideals.

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  2. Matthew

    July 29, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Yeah, what Ela said.

    Reply
  3. Mark

    October 4, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    I’m not sure Jung meant this was the *purpose* of the transcendent function – to basically fuck things up for us to keep us humble.

    It is, however, often how the transcendent function, uh, functions. Or rather, I should say, because we NEGLECT the transcendent function, it ends up undermining our progress or success. This is why Jung called it the transcendent function in the first place – it’s the function that, once our investment in it matches its importance in our psyche, it allows us to TRANSCEND the issues that have held us back up to that point.

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