Mythology is rich with allusion to the bond men and women share. Many cultures have myths depicting an initial male/female pairing which produced mankind. In others, such as some Hindu myths, man and woman are initially one entity, not so much human as an essence, which eventually splits in two—those two halves wind up in a life long search for one another to attain the completeness they once shared.
Ever had that feeling after seeing, or just being in a persons presence, that there is something deeper that resonates more than you could possibly describe? A yin to your yang? Moon to your sky?
Greek mythology tells us of Orpheus, a man who so loved his wife that he traveled into the underworld to petition Hades, god of the underworld, for the release of her soul. Orpheus, perhaps the best lyre player in the Greek pantheon, was said to have learned his skill for playing the lyre from Apollo. It is told that as he played for Hades the normally immovable god was moved to tears. So enchanted was he that Orpheus was granted his wife’s release, but only upon one condition: he could not look back to see if she was following until they had completely exited. Orpheus, during the arduous trek back to the entrance, had plenty of time to convince himself that Hades was tricking him. He kept his eyes forward until almost the very moment he reached the exit, but having not heard or received any sort of sign his beloved was behind him he turned to look behind, only to see his love be dragged back into the underworld forever.
We’ve all felt that at some point, right? That tragic heartbreak. Each of us, at some level, knows that gut wrenching feeling that feeds on an almost never ending series of questions and self-doubt—What if I would have not said a word? What if I had remained calm? Why didn’t I act differently? Orpheus’ loss is perhaps a direct metaphor for our own regrets.
Carl Jung believed that later in life, once we are past young adulthood, we spend the remainder of our lives trying to understand, to get in touch with, our unconscious, that we make choices based upon this drive to become more familiar with a part of us we know little about. Is that place where our better halves reside? Why do they seem so utterly elusive?
A fascinating correlation, and certainly not anything resembling an answer—this very connection Jung attributes to the inner part of one’s personality is known as the animas for men, the animus for women. It is possibly the deepest part of us, the very core of what we strive to understand and connect with; for men, our feminine side, our animas; for women, their masculine side, their animus. Perhaps this very concept is why an individual so deeply resonates with us. Perhaps they are most closely connected to our core than others.
The question then seems to be: Are they—our soul mate, if you will—impossible to find? Should we simply settle for something good instead of great?
Or are they—as I believe—simply within reach and waiting for our touch, and we for theirs.
Contemporary romanticism or fallacious mythology?