The End is Nigh

Remember the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland who is anxiously looking at his watch and worrying about his tardiness? Well I have a similar feeling running through me at the moment. I keep getting images of the white rabbit and recalling his harassed mutterings of, “I’m late.” I don’t recall other end-of-years having this same sense of foreboding termination, but I’m trying to work out why I am filled with this sensation.

When Alice does fall down the rabbit hole or move through the looking glass she enters into alternative worlds. In fact this is a beautiful metaphor for the inferior function of the unconscious and the imagination needing to be integrated with conscious life. So I’m wondering if this is what is going on for me. Am I missing some sort of outlet for my creative energies? Or perhaps my unconscious is feeling undervalued.

When life becomes all about work and responsibilities it’s easy (and somewhat fulfilling) to tick off accomplishments. Shopping done; emails sorted; work projects complete and all end-of-term rituals like prize giving and final assemblies dutifully attended.  There’s a tremendous sense of task completion throughout November and December in the Southern hemisphere because many events end along with the calendar of months reaching its conclusion.

At the end of 2014 I chose a word that I would live into during the course of this year, 2015. My word was Transition. Indeed 2015 could well wear the label of a transitional year – a change of jobs, a change of life-focus and a change of family structure with my father passing were all beacons of change. However, part of the work of year-ends is that of evaluation.  Do I think I have transitioned significantly enough and if so why the white rabbit neurosis of foreboding doom for being late.

Personal transformation doesn’t always fit the deadlines we imagine for it. It’s also the stuff of infinity. You never reach enlightenment because there’s always a new word to live into or another transition to take you forward, deeper, wider or higher. When Alice enters the Wonderland where everything becomes ‘curiouser’ and the backwards world beyond the Looking Glass, she encounters realms of strangeness and fantasy that make no sense to the conscious world of logic and reasoning.

The terminating trial of the allegedly thieving Knave of Tarts with the menacing Queen of Hearts bellowing ‘Off with their heads,” causes Alice to grow in size and anger. Ultimately she wakes from her dream. In the Wonderland book, Alice tells her sister about her dream, but in the Looking Glass book Alice continues to wonder whether the Looking-Glass World was her own dream or the Red King’s. While we’re pretty sure it was hers, this reminds us of a logic problem concerning reality.

One book simply values the power of imagination; the other questions the very nature of what is real. Lewis Carroll was getting closer and closer to the realisation that the ultimate work of life is integrating our conscious and our unconscious worlds. Or at the very least recognizing the interplay between these worlds.

I am not sure that I need worry too much about a malpracticing Red King in my conscious life or a tyrannical Queen of Hearts but in my unconscious (imagination) life I may be prone to judging too quickly (The Knave of Tarts is guilty) and sentencing my ideas to early deaths (Behead them all!).

Perhaps I shall just wait and see what my anxious rabbit-mind is heralding and allow more of my two worlds to merge. In fact a great word of 2016 might be Emergence.

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  • Michelle
    December 31, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Thanks Cal, only you could frame the final day of 2015 like this and I appreciate that you did!

    Happy New Year Cal and now I think it’s time to sit down with the Mad Hatter and partake of a cup of tea (or bubbles, whichever is closer).


    • Cal McDonnell
      December 31, 2015 at 12:04 pm

      I think I’ll choose bubbles – thank you

      • Michelle
        December 31, 2015 at 4:58 pm

        An excellent choice Cal. Have a joyful evening and hope your first day of 2016 is a good one.


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