This post is formatted to reflect an original journal entry.


It’s finally starting to feel like fall. An airy afternoon run. Autumn leaves and a pleasant breeze. Getting deep into Carl Rogers’s On Becoming a Person. Fascinating. So much talk of feelings. Harmony of feelings. Integration, flow, and differentiation of feelings. I imagine it all as one gigantic, glorious montage. The drive for precision in the articulation of one’s inner experiences (and so much talk of openness to experience). I feel wide-eyed as I read these segments of his discussion. I’ll bet he liked to design his feelings, too. I feel greater justification, somehow (Was I looking for justification?), in the efforts I make to articulate, as best I can, the components of my inner experiences, those that comprise an overarching aesthetics of self. The experience of being in my own skin. Femininity. Creativity. Other dimensions of sexuality. Together, the greatest sources of luminosity, energy, and color in my daily life.

I knew it was useful. The practice of giving form to one’s feelings. I am a big believer in the power of intuition. That listening to the urgings of that inner voice will tell us exactly what it is we need to do in order to mend, improve, or otherwise enhance our own well-being. Which is exactly why I started exploring the finer points of my feelings in the first place. Perhaps, this is what Rogers is driving at. Psychotherapy as a means of showing people how to listen to that voice—to find it in the whole of one’s experience, to not be afraid of it, realize it is as a source of nurturance, of compassion for, and fondness of self. Not as pointing to something bad, ugly, shameful, or unworthy. How wonderful. But, surely, this can be done outside of therapy for many of us. I think he discusses that later in the book…

Question: Does Rogers ever move beyond the discrimination and acceptance of feelings and their changing-ness with experience? A hallmark of the fluidity of one’s personality, just like self-actualization is for Maslow. For Rogers, a kind of pinnacle in the experience of self:

When the individual has, in his process of change…incorporated the quality of motion, of flow, of changingness, into every aspect of his psychological life…He lives in his feelings, knowingly, and with basic trust in them and acceptance of them…He values exactness in differentiation of his feelings and of the personal meanings of his experiences. His internal communication between various aspects of himself is free and unblocked. He communicates himself freely in relationships with others…Indeed, he feels a fully responsible relationship to his life in all its fluid aspects. – Carl R. Rogers

To my thinking, the ultimate in becoming is to actually make a work of art of those feelings. Shouldn’t the next step, beyond mere recognition and articulation of those feelings, be to transform them into something beautiful? Sounds more like Maslow or a combination of Maslow and May. And, I don’t mean to use one’s feelings in the service of a craft, as a poet, visual artist, or novelist might. But, to sit with the feelings themselves, to address them directly, to identify the nitty-gritty—all their nuances, gradients, oppositions—and to intentionally translate each into its meaning, its symbol, its role in creating a more refined, more beautiful self. A solitary and all-encompassing work of art. My intuition tells me, yes. The self can reach a higher, more artful pinnacle. The highest self is largely the work of the imagination.

Would be interesting to play around with this idea more. Perhaps, delve into the finer points of my inner experiences again, as with the femininity experiment. Something to think about. Excited to keep reading Rogers. An observation: reading humanistic psychology excites me so much I cannot read at bedtime. Otherwise, I will not sleep. My mind is overcome by the proliferation of ideas. Wild note-taking. I think that what excites me is all the talk of human potential, of becoming, of the promises of a future self I can sense all the time. Makes me feel lucky. Also, makes me enthusiastic. If I am fortunate enough to live a long life, I wonder who, in time, I can make myself into. I realize that, through the work I’ve done on The Used Life, I have, in fact, come to see myself—my inner experiences, in their totality and their changing-ness—as a work of art separate from all others. I am forced to pause for a moment. Isn’t The Used Life exactly the kind of project in becoming, or self-actualizing, I’ve just advocated? Or, is this vision incomplete? Time to ease into a much deeper contemplation.

8 responses to “Nocturne”

  1. I enjoy all of your writing, and I think I enjoy your journal entries the most. So much comes to mind while I read. One thought comes to me now: you mention therapy at one point, and as someone who both trained to be a therapist and who has spent many years in therapy, I definitely do NOT think that therapy is for everyone who wishes to discover more about her or himself. What comes to mind is that, for instance, perhaps the experience of writing this post was therapeutic for you. I have often thought of writing a particular vignette as a form of therapy session. For me therapy is valuable because I change in some way as a result of the experience. Having read your work now for many months or longer, I sense that, if I as a reader have had many learning experiences while reading your sentences, that you as the author have experienced something similar while writing them. I completely agree with you (this is of course my interpretation of what you wrote) that becoming oneself is an artistic project, one that never ends.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much. I sense you can relate to these kinds of writings very deeply, and I so enjoy the dialogue that we are able to share on these topics. I believe you are probably right–that therapy is not for everyone–but that there are plenty of activities that can have therapeutic effects, to varying degrees, on many people. This, I think, is part of constructive/creative living. I notice within myself that the activities that are necessarily most therapeutic, or growth-oriented, are always, or almost always, creative. I’m struggling to remember…was it Rank who suggested creative activities have a naturally therapeutic function? That creativity was its own form of therapy? It may have been someone else, but I remember reading it…Anyway, you have interpreted my thoughts correctly, that each of us is a creative project that lasts a lifetime.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, and I also enjoy the dialogue we have had. I do not know if Rank suggested that creative activities have a naturally therapeutic function, but the suggestion sounds very Jungian to me. In fact, how alive I felt in my imagination when I first started reading Jung and other Jungians was in large part why I dedicated years to reading Jung. And I also want to say that the way you write about your reading experiences encourages me to fully live my own reading experiences – and I read a lot. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah, thank you! Yes, you’re right. Jung did say something along those lines, didn’t he? “Active imagination” stems from that kind of thinking. I think some of the theorists I’ve been discussing (May, Maslow, et al.) make me feel alive in my imagination similarly. So many living, breathing ideas! It is wonderful to meet someone else who reads so holistically, imaginatively, soulfully. Thank you for that. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a passion for reading humanistic psychology too and discovered the quirky truths of Maslow, quirky in the sense of his delivery, not his wisdom. I love his wisdoms on self actualisation and the creative life.
    Therapy can be amazing when it identifies patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving which have become painful over the years and are stemming from a past trigger – identify the trigger, and the contrains of the ‘programmed’ reactions to that trigger repeating in the now somehow fall away leaving one with a sense of liberation. I thought this was wishful thinking, but I found out the truth of it personally, and it was wonderful. For me it’s about self acceptance and being able to operate in this life with total integrity and transparency according to one’s own nature – and that this isn’t a complicated way of being, it’s just the opposite – a simple truth. Lovely post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Lynne! I think “quirky” is a good way to describe Maslow. His journal makes me think in really life he was probably a bit of an “odd” guy…but I suspect very sensitive, funny, and likable. Anyway, I agree with you that self-acceptance and living in step with one’s own nature are the goals…and often so hard to achieve! It’s nice to find others who are excited by reading this stuff. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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