Contrary to the ideas this title might conjure up, this entry is not about fishies. It is about our projections on “Other” and our yearning for connectedness. Once you realize “I” and “Other”, and you begin to take ownership of your distinctions, one of the most important dynamics to become aware of is our tendency to look for “nemo”.
“Nemo” is not a fish
The word “nemo” comes from Latin. It means no human, or nobody. It is curious that in the children story of “Finding Nemo” (I know, this is not about fish, I promise), a timid father is finding his lively son. Note these two personalities for now. Nemo was also the name of the anarchist captain in Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea“. A pirate that could not be contained by the system of the time due to his ingenuity.
Two much older stories come to mind that will allow us to go even deeper: One is Plato’s “Symposium” (from Greek syn – together, and pinein – drinking), a story about a group of friends drinking and philosophizing together about the nature of love, and Eros, specifically (vs. Agape, which is a higher form of love that is beyond the romantic).
Aristophanes (who was a well know comedian and one of the participants), tells a story about how humans used to be all powerful, and with that became too cocky. This angered the gods. So they tore them into halves. Since, Aristophanes claims, they have been running around confused, trying to find the other half.
This has led to our modern notion of romantic love. It has been the source of phrases like “my better half,” and has led millions to try and find Mr. or Mrs. Right out there.
C.G. Jung cracked that code. He suggested a psychological dynamic called “Projection”, and elevated thinking about romance into the intellectual circuit. Each of us, he suggested, has an internal “Other”, an anima or animus, depending on whether you are male or female (and please keep in mind, we are talking archetypes here, this means, your sexual orientation has nothing to do with your primary operating gender). This is your other half. It is not outside of you, but inside of you.
When you fall in love, you most often don’t actually fall in love with the person in front of you. You fall in love with your projection of your own inner other gender onto that person – how else could you fall in love at first sight, you don’t even know that person…
This is why, after the honeymoon wears off, relating to a partner becomes a constant disappointment and compromise – because they simply aren’t your other half, as much as you would want them to be. And often people wake up one day looking at the person next to them and wonder what they ever saw in them. They break up, and go searching for the next idol to project their internal self on.
YOU complete me…
Another aspect of projecting your own inner other half onto someone outside of you, is that you implicitly assume you are not complete by yourself, and you need that other person to complete you. This is the recipe for co-dependence. If you define yourself through your partnership unit, instead of defining your partnership as a commitment between individuals based on a solid foundation of agreements, you are in for either a trip toward the least common denominator of tolerance, or a constant flow of self-annihilating conflict and disappointment.
But there are good news…
The other of the stories that came to mind, is an old Indian story about hiding from humans that they are indeed all powerful. The gods sent out scouts to find a location to hide this secret. They went to the deepest seas, highest mountains, darkest caves, and realized that eventually man would make it even there. So they hid the secret inside the human heart.
You are complete
In a previous post I mentioned Self as opposed to persona. Each of us has a smaller self, and also a higher Self we can connect to, and even more so put our smaller self in service to. Remember above when the timid fish is finding the lively one. Our job is to let go of our fears in order to connect to our higher Self – who might just be a bit of an anarchist… That is all you need to find. Realize your inherent wholeness, and “nemo” will vanish into thin air.
Then you can have truly authentic and rewarding relationships, not based on need, but based on choice and volition.