This week we present the third place winner in our 2014 Writing It Real Essay Contest. Our guest judge Midge Raymond selected Lisa Hunter’s essay, “Twelve Random Cards: A Self-Portrait in Archetypes.” Midge wrote this about her selection: “This clever self portrait, while a memoir of self-examination and brief stories, also allows us as readers to envision ourselves in each of the twelve cards, from Angel to Prostitute, from Rebel to Teacher. The author’s ability to hold a mirror to herself, and offer what she sees to readers, is admirable, as is her warm and accessible voice.”
Twelve Random Cards: A Self Portrait in Archetypes
by Lisa Hunter
“We can relate to almost every archetype because our psyches and spirits are connected to the great collective of all the archetypal patterns.”
Caroline Myss, Creator of the Archetype Cards deck
I drew twelve random cards from this deck.
I’m too measured; too reserved; too considered to be an angel.
While I’m busy thinking though the circumstances, someone else has always intervened. If there’s anything left to do I might offer help, or wait to be asked.
Sometimes I wonder if intervention is always a good thing. Perhaps sometimes, people are stronger when they work through a situation on their own.
I’m watchful, alert and I don’t miss much. As a teenager, I held court over my siblings with staring competitions, raised eyebrows and all-knowing glares over the top of my glasses.
All of this was unconscious until my sister reacted one day, trying to mirror my expression.
I saw the ugliness and domination in her face, realising — this was me.
When I write in a fit of pique or despair, each word that appears on the page expunges something from my body.
Tension flows from my shoulders to the page, curative as a laugh with a friend.
“Demons be gone!” and they are.
It seems part of me needs to be driven to art. In practice, I allow fully formed concepts to float away while my mind drifts among superficial pursuits.
Every now and then, an idea gets stuck, as an insect on flywire. It buzzes and rattles away until I attend to it.
What to do with this strange shaped, winged creature?
Oh, how I long to be an artist.
From the moment I could hold a pen and write sentences, I have written about myself.
I write impressions of my life in carefully chosen words.
What is truth? What is invention? Are my memories my own or are they a collective construction? I don’t exist in isolation of others, however much I may wish to at times.
If I write about you, do I mirror myself in my observations? Or can I see the parts of you that you hide from yourself?
Whatever the case, I can never capture the full picture. It’s never the whole truth. I’m drawn to ambiguity and metaphor.
Like a magpie I gather shiny bits of knowledge and store them away in a nest of papers, books and devices.
Effortlessly, or so it seems to me, I can pluck out just the one you need, place it in front of you, and show you how to use it.
The pleasure comes when you reach out to touch it, hold it to the light and wonder “Wow! How did you know that? Where did this come from?”
My work is done when I see you use it as part of your toolkit, as if you had never operated without it.
I wish I could be the warm embrace of a soft tie or the magnetic draw of an irresistible impulse — true and free of other forces. But, I’m moulded by what is around me. I squeeze into the gaps, oozing around the edges, creating a fluid link between opposing forces.
Unwilling glue. Cracking glue.
Glue that will one day lose its grip and be split among the fragmenting pieces which surround it.
In a corporate career, I worked long hours to impress, compromised my principles to avoid causing controversy and silenced my tongue for a new job here, a promotion there, or to win favour with those who made the decisions.
I showed the wardrobe of masks I secreted away one at a time, each to a different person. Each mask designed to display someone they thought I should be, not who I was underneath. Playing the role well meant distancing myself from others, keeping spontaneity and heartfelt emotions tightly controlled.
The secret me was reserved for my journal and for those writing students sitting in the classroom with me.
I always wrote mask-less.
With my camera I am the alchemist turning a scrubby bushland into a wealth of beautiful treasures.
I seek the moment of perfect light which makes an old rough tree trunk glow orange in the sunset, the golden sky fading to pink and purple; that moment when the surface of the dam becomes a mirror; those last sunrays, calling the nocturnal creatures out to enjoy the last few moments of daylight.
I’m not a ‘girly girl’ and I don’t dress like one. This in itself is an act of rebellion.
As a child I wanted to mow the lawn, find out how to hammer a nail, roll down a hill, and sit comfortably, legs awry. All of this was apparently ‘unladylike’ and inappropriate for a girl. ‘Ladylike’ never came naturally to me. So when I came across the concept of feminism in first-year University it spoke to me in a way nothing else had. Feminism contextualized my experiences and gave me a personal truth.
The central philosophy of freedom to choose gave me freedom to be myself. It allowed me to reject the gender constraints with nothing to offer me. I revelled in the femaleness of nature, accepting fecundity and fullness as the natural ways of the world.
One of the greatest joys of living here in the bush is to be with the wildlife. The first thing I do each morning is to look for the ducks, kangaroos and cockatoos.
If I’m early enough, the kangaroos may still be visible, but ‘Cheeky’ the wild Cockatoo is usually waiting for me to appear no matter what time I arise. He screeches for seeds to be placed onto the bird feeder. I talk to him as I would an intimate friend, enquiring about his day, how many friends he had bought with him this morning, and tell him what a good boy he is.
The wild ducks have learned to watch for the cockatoos feeding. Families of them weave their way from the shore of the dam to the lush grass surrounding the house.
Why do they follow the same winding route each day when it would be easier to walk a straight path or to fly?
For me, the Divine is visible through the lens of my camera.
What conveys wonder more than seeing the perfection held in a dewdrop suspended on one strand of silken web? On a foggy day, this glistening drop of moisture, silvered against a mossy green background, mirrors everything around it. The world recreated with light and water.
How about an ancient tree captured in a slow motion stretch across the centuries? The old Yellow Box tree, battle scarred and twisted, reaches out with limbs long-ago shattered by the elements. Creating space within those fissures for owls, parrots and possums, it gives life from the wounds inflicted.
I have a new experience everytime I read Lisa’s responses to the Archetype cards. We all hold so much in our personalities and our essence. Lisa’s work with the cards inspires me to see myself and where I stand in nature and with others.
I hope you’ll take a moment and make a comment below for Lisa and all Writing It Real members. It is always, always wonderful to receive feedback and the discussion possible among writers is rewarding.