Shedding Skin

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Hillman: And becoming more and more oneself - the actual experience of it is a shrinking, in that very often it's a dehydration, a loss of inflations, a loss of illusions.

Ventura: That doesn't sound like a good time. Why would anybody want to do it?

Hillman: Because shedding is a beautiful thing. It's of course not what consumerism tells you, but shedding feels good. It's a lightening up.

Ventura: Shedding what?

Hillman: Shedding pseudoskins, crusted stuff that you've accumulated. Shedding dead wood. That's one of the big sheddings. Things that don't work anymore, things that don't keep you - keep you alive. Sets of ideas that you've had too long. People that you don't really like to be with, habits of thought, habits of sexuality. That's a very big one, 'cause if you're still making love at forty the way you did at eighteen you're missing something, and if you're making love at sixty the way you did at forty you're missing something. All that changes. The imagination changes.

Or put it another way: Growth is always loss.

Anytime you're gonna grow, you're gonna lose something. You're losing what you're hanging onto to keep safe. You're losing habits that you're comfortable with, you're losing familiarity. That's a big one, when you begin to move into the unfamiliar.

You know, in the organic world when anything begins to grow it's moving constantly into unfamiliar movements and unfamiliar things. Watch birds grow - they fall down, they can't quite do it. Their growing is all awkwardness. Watch a fourteen-year-old kid tripping over his own feet.

[James Hillman]
with Michael Ventura
We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy - And the World's Getting Worse, p.8


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