In his book Iron John, Robert Bly tells the story about the little boy accidentally rolls his golden ball into Iron John’s cage. When he asks for Iron John to give it back to him, the Wild Man responds that he can only return it if the little boy opens the cage. When the boy does, Iron John steps out and says: “Now you will be punished for releasing me. You can come with me if you want, rather than facing society’s scorn.” The boy jumps onto his back and off they go, into the woods.
Bly’s interpretation about the meaning of the golden ball is interesting. The ball, he says, is the human energy that we have as a child, but which society removes from our available repertoire. Look at children around the age of three or four. They are glowing, golden orbs of energy. Radiating in every direction. Not boys or girls yet, just alive! Then, society begins cutting off parts of the orb. Big girls are not so aggressive- slice. Big boys don’t trifle with such things- slice. We mourn those parts of ourselves for the rest of our lives or worse, we detach and lose our ability to identify with the parts of us that once were available.
We put those forsaken pieces of ourselves into a black sack that we pull around with us for the rest of our lives. Jung called it the Shadow. Then, at times during our lives, the Shadow makes an appearance. It shows itself when we hate someone for exhibiting that part of humanity that we have been denied. A woman resents another woman for dressing so “seductively.” It is the part of her golden orb of energy that she was denied. A man hates another who exhibits his feminine side. Our inner voice seems to be saying: If I can’t have that part of me, then no one should be able to exhibit it. That is the Shadow speaking. It is the aching of the amputated limb.
I envision A Day On as one of the forces inside the cage that wants to return the golden orbs of beautiful energy to people. The Wild Man lives inside A Day On. He dances around behind the scenes. I am simply his typist, posting his dispatches to the world-wide web.
The Wild Man is imprisoned in the cage because he is considered by society to be dangerous and mysterious. He has an insight into what is inside that long black bag we are pulling around behind us. The same black bag that polite society tells us we are not supposed to mention. The thing inside that bag become awakened in his presence, they become restless, and just like with the little boy in the story, they are magnetically attracted to the place where they can be fully restored.
Basic needs, when denied, are the source of frustration. Often times, we deny ourselves those basic needs through making choices of what we feel are the only choices available. The cable provider tells us that it offers more channels than a dish satellite service. We’ve tried both, but still don’t feel satisfied with what’s coming through our television screen. Perhaps the answer exists in a better resolution screen, a better surround-sound system. Maybe our room isn’t as acoustically perfect as it could be.
The Wild Man laughs at us wrestling with our false choices, and every once in a while, when we turn off the television our attention returns to the things we have stowed away in that black bag we seem to have forgotten about.