Just as Alice tumbled down the rabbit hole and encountered a whole new world, so you will someday descend the manhole. Or, at least, I hope you will. You never really become an adult until you wade through the sewer of your being.
When you descend the manhole you come face-to-face with the ignored, rejected, and repressed parts of yourself, what Carl Jung called the shadow. Here you confront those attributes that you’d rather not see. These may include your immaturity or selfishness, your anger, jealousy, laziness and the like. But the shadow is also the storehouse of great treasures, for much that we have rejected or left undeveloped can enhance and deepen our life. For example, your repressed anger may have a message or perspective you need to hear. It can also give you the motivation to change an unhealthy situation. Likewise, contact with your suppressed instincts can bring you more energy and reconnect you to the wisdom of your animal nature. Perhaps most importantly, the shadow contains undeveloped interests and potentials that can become your gift to the world.
It takes courage to enter the manhole. Wading through, sorting through, and refining what you find there is often disgusting, slow, repetitive work. It takes humility and builds humility at the same time. It reconnects you to your humanness while it solidifies and adds depth to your personality. It is an essential part of your path to God. Although paradoxical, it is true: enter the manhole and emerge a whole man.
Copyright © Andy Drymalski, Ed.D.