Don’t Kick the Lollipop Stick.
“Don’t kick the lollipop stick.” I know this sounds like a line from Alice in Wonderland. In fact, I can hear the hookah-smoking caterpillar in Wonderland now: “Doooon’t (long pause) kiiiiick thee (another long pause) lolliPOP stickkkkkkk.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t a journey into Wonderland, and yet, it is a trip down a rabbit hole, of sorts.
The story begins at the Atlanta airport. I parked, pushed my hair behind my ears, and began to traverse the parking lot to the elevator heading towards the arrivals lobby.
I had just eaten a birthday cake pop from Starbucks (1. Yes, I am ashamed. 2. Warning : They are evil. Stay away if you have not had one. If you have, I am sorry, it’s too late for you also).
As I approached the elevator, arms full, holding too many things, I dropped the white, empty, cake-less stick on the floor. I glanced down, quite undisturbed, and almost unconsciously, kicked the stick over to the side. For the briefest of moments, I had the intention of continuing on.
“What The Hell Was That?!?” An inner voice. Totally shocked. I had just observed myself and was, to put it bluntly, wholly disgusted. It continued, “Did you just kick that stick? You’ve got to be kidding me. Realllly?!?”
Then, it was as if the whole scene played back in my psyche in slow motion. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. Not out of humor, but the kind of laughter that erupts in moments of uncomfortable irony, almost like a desperate plea for levity.
What had just happened to me? Why was that in anyway, for any amount of time, okay?
Here I am, this eco-conscious yogi, who, for a moment in time, was quite content kicking my trash out of my own way, leaving it scattered around for other people to pick up and deal with. I bent down to pick it up, hugely disconcerted from the momentary lapse of consciousness, and wondered what part of my unconscious shadow had just shown up.
Trash. It is an interesting thought to think about what we do with our trash.
I began to wonder, as I dropped the stick into the huge trash can about five steps from where the kick originally took place, where else I may, unconsciously, be leaving my trash, my discarded lollipop sticks.
Have there been times when other people, who share this world with me, were left to sort through and pick up my trash? Do I brush or kick my trash off to the side, ensuring it is not disturbing my pretty little path, and yet give no thought to what happens afterwards to others and the world around me?
It is a relatively easy practice with physical littering, and yet, I began to wonder if I have the same awareness with the trash I drop with my words, or my thoughts, or in my relationships, unconsciously encountering my shadow.
I walked away, invoking for my inner voice to show up in my many momentary lapses of consciousness. I was grateful she showed up when I kicked the lollipop stick. I was grateful I was forced to watch myself in slow motion completely disregard our planet and those who co-inhabit it with me.
Don’t get me wrong, it caused me great disdain to watch it, a twisting and confused disappointment burrowed itself into a soft, vulnerable place in my psyche. And yet, it seemed necessary.
Encountering your shadow is incredibly uncomfortable and scary. And yet, looking away does not lead to its disappearance.
In fact, in depth psychology, we believe that what gets repressed only builds power in the unconscious and will erupt into consciousness in often devastating or shocking ways. This is the rabbit hole. And it can be dark indeed. But the way to Wonderland is to follow the white rabbit into the madness of the unconscious, bringing it into conscious awareness.
“Unfortunately, there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.
If an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it. Furthermore, it is constantly in contact with other interests, so that it is continually subjected to modifications. But if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected.” ~ Carl Jung
And so, for the moment, because it amuses me, I am giving my inner voice of consciousness the voice of the hookah-smoking caterpillar in Wonderland. And whenever I find myself kicking trash around this world, physically, verbally, or mentally, I hear, a smooth, slow voice…
“Doooon’t (long pause) kiiiiick thee (another long pause) lolliPOP stickkkkkkk.”
And the least I can do is bend down, humbly, nod to the caterpillar, and pick up my own trash.
Read more: There You’ll Find Your Demons