My 84-year-old fantasy boyfriend and the father of Archetypal psychology, James Hillman*, says that a great clinical question to ask patients is “what do you want?” Hillman wants to know what patients are fantasizing about having? He wants to know this not to help them make that desire happen but to get where their libido is and what they are symbolically trying to get. He says that to know what a patient wants it is more important than to know about who did what to who when they were five. Not to disagree with my brilliant BF, but I do tend to think that what happened at five is pretty important stuff, but I also think what we want says a whole lot about us and lately I am wanting stuff. I want lots of stuff. And all the stuff I want is stuff that I wouldn’t dare tell Igor about.
I would prefer to tell Igor about sexual fantasies or my bank balance or my most embarrassing moments in life than to tell him that I have a full page of beauty products that I am dying to have as he might want to analyze my desires and in the analyzing of the stuff it might kill the desire for the stuff and I like wanting the stuff. I like the hope that wanting stuff creates. And, for a long time I have been on an anti-hope kick, so the hope that the Diptyque – Feu de Bois (Wood Fire) Candle promises to magically make my home feel more homey or that the entire line of Moroccan oil products promises to make my hair, if not my thoughts, easier to manage.
I think I might know why I want so much stuff. I want what I want because I am doing without. I am dieting and so I am not indulging myself with food or wine, as I did before I began my diet. And even though I am getting thinner (what I want) I am having to not have what I want in order to have what I want (you follow me?). I want things to happen in my career that are not happening. I want to be in Chicago and not here and I am having to wait for what I want. And there is the baby wanting that even though I don’t actively want a baby anymore—I am still left with a big old mound of “I want and I can’t have what I want.” Because I can’t have what I REALLY want I find myself saying that I want all this other stuff. I want to give myself these things because I feel like I deserve them. I indulge the self-indulgent me by saying, “You are doing without over here so let me give you all this other stuff to make up for it.” The truth is that stuff, as good as it is and there is some good stuff that I am wanting, that it won’t make up for what I REALLY want. It simply won’t. An emotional need cannot be met through the purchase of a pair of shoes—no matter how gorgeous they are. I know, I have tried and it never works.
Back to my boyfriend, Hillman, I think that if I was seeing James for therapy (which would be weird because he is my boyfriend*) that he would not want to interpret why I want these things. “dreams tell us where we are, not what to do”. Hilly in his book “The Dream and the Underworld” writes about the importance of staying with the image and NOT interpreting it. Hillman describes his position:
For instance, a black snake comes in a dream, a great big black snake, and you can spend a whole hour with this black snake talking about the devouring mother, talking about anxiety, talking about the repressed sexuality, talking about the natural mind, all those interpretive moves that people make, and what is left, what is vitally important, is what this snake is doing, this crawling huge black snake that’s walking into your life…and the moment you’ve defined the snake, you’ve interpreted it, you’ve lost the snake, you’ve stopped it…The task of analysis is to keep the snake there.
These are some of the items on my Id inspired wish list, or, if you will, the metaphorical snake that Hillman would want me to “stay with”:
* A collection of bubble baths
* Nars Multiples in Copacabana
* Becca Eye Tint in Baroque
* Dr. Brandt Pores No More
* Anastasia Brow Pen in Light
* Bare Essentials shadow in Glimmer
Hillman wouldn’t tell me why I want these things or how to get them, as he says “dreams tell us where we are, not what to do” Hillman, if he heard my list of wants, would: a) probably judge me a little for wanting all this stuff; b) ask me what I would imagine these things would give me; c) he would try and get me to the experience of what it feels like to want these things.
Let’s start with the pajamas. I am feeling a little shlumpadinka in my present sleepwear situation, which is often one half workout wear or flannel printed pajama pants and a long sleeve tee shirt or a white cotton tank top. I am wanting my night-life to have more beauty. Actually, lately I have had this obsession of making my everyday life more beautiful: hence the desire for candles, bubble baths, fresh flowers, and now the pajamas. I am saving all my best clothes and hair and makeup for days that I am going somewhere. As I don’t go anywhere most days except to the gym, for walks with Lily and to Trader Joes—most days I am not going to class or to work or to someplace where I need to dress and do my make up. Why should all the beauty be saved for others? Why shouldn’t I have beauty on the days I am alone and in my house? Huh??? Why?
Then there are the boots. What will they give me? I love how boots make me feel. In boots I feel strong and grounded and chic. I can be wearing just jeans and a long sleeve tee and I feel as if by adding boots to the equation that I have transformed the ordinary into something special. Sure, I already have boots. Why more? Well, I don’t have brown boots. Brown boots feel different than black boots. I only have ever had one pair of brown boots and they felt more introverted than black boots as if they were for me and not for others. Black boots are noticed, brown boots are quiet and steady and warm—and quietly elegant. If black boots are a blond, brown boots are a brunette. I know that doesn’t make any sense but that is how they fee to me. Boots feel like an heirloom in the making—and will endure over time; they will get better with age and they will warm and shape themselves to my life and the peculiarities of my anatomy. In wanting these beautiful Frye Dorado boots I want something that promises that I will endure and age with grace and beauty. I want something that I can count on and something that can change how I feel without any effort. And because the heel on these boots aren’t so very high, these boots are made for walking and having a shoe that allows for mobility is much better symbolically than wanting a pair of five-inch heels that I could NEVER walk in. Isn’t it?
And the make-up, well I suppose that when I look at myself lately I see myself looking old and tired and kind of weary. I have gone through a lot lately and the idea of being pore free and highlighted so I look more alive and having brows that lift my face and my spirit is not such a bad idea. That said, if this was a dream I would definitely look at the word “make-up”. I want, as I said before, to make-up for all that I feel that I don’t have and hence the list of *make-up* is very long. I feel sure that even if I were to indulge myself and buy all the *make-up* on my list that it wouldn’t make up for what I REALLY want.
*Just incase you are new to the blog and/or are James Hillman’s wife or family, Hillman is not really my boyfriend. I just have a mad intellectual crush on him. And,yes, He-weasel is aware of this crush and happily feels unthreatened by my intellectual eros.