I am really fond of bibliotherapy and I think Herman Hesse’s writings are probably the best example that I’ve personally found (thanks to a dear internet friend of mine) of the highly sensitive gifted person growing up and navigating the world and leaving a permanent record of it for highly sensitive gifted others to find their selves mirrored within the pages. Herman Hesse’s Demian is the perspective on an older man, Emil Sinclair, reflecting upon his childhood and young adulthood. It focuses on his intellectual development, and his growth is facilitated with the help of mentors, who become very emotionally significant to Sinclair. The book deftly addresses the individuation process and workings of the human mind, and is heavily influenced by Jungian psychoanalysis.
We who wore the sign might justly be considered “odd” by the world, yes, even crazy, and dangerous. We were aware, or in the process of becoming aware and our striving was directed toward achieving a more and more complete state of awareness while the striving of the others was a quest aimed at binding their opinions, ideals, duties, their lives and their fortunes more and more closely to those of the herd. There, too, was striving, there, too were power and greatness. But whereas we, who were marked, believed that we represented the will of Nature to something new, to the individualism of the future, the others sought to perpetuate the status quo.
People like you and me are quite lonely, really, but we still have each other, we have the secret satisfaction of being different, of rebelling, of desiring the unusual.
But the most important thing I learned from him was a further step on the path to myself. Around 18 at the time, I was an unusual young person, precocious in a hundred ways but very underdeveloped and helpless in a hundred others. When I occasionally compared myself with other, I had often been proud and smug, but just as often depressed and humiliated. I had often thought of myself as a genius, often as half-crazy. I couldn’t manage to share in the joys and activities of those my age, and I had been consumed with self-reproaches and worries, as if I were hopelessly cut off from them, as if I were shut off from life.
Just then I found a strange refuge – “by chance”, as they say – though I believe there is no such thing. If you need something desperately and find it, this is not an accident; your own craving and compulsion led you to it.
I feel the stirrings of something in my soul. It hasn’t become quite clear to me what that is just yet. I’m hoping that this will reveal itself to me. I’ve been waiting for so long for some “sign”, to tell me what to do with the next chapter of my life. I am one of those people with the great need to leave traces of myself behind…as Hermann Hesse did.
I’m going to go on a mini-retreat, hopefully soon after spring comes. I already have a bed and breakfast picked out and know the room I want to be in – a lovely pink and white room decorated in cottage style. I want to bring my journal, my camera and a good pair of walking shoes. No kids, no husband, no computer. Nobody else but me. I want to walk in the woods, and think and write and listen to the voice inside – no distractions, no responsibilities. I don’t know what’s to come of it, but I do know after these past few weeks of reading and journaling some and discussing some things with a trusted friend, I know I am just beginning to understand who I am. I just haven’t figured out what I want to pursue next. I’m getting close, but I’m still not there yet.