Of bad backs and sprained ankles

Dick Cheney meets with Prince Sultan, Minister...
Image via Wikipedia

It’s never funny when anybody hurts themselves…right?  Well, then again I’ve seen those funniest video shows on TV which seemed inundated with folks having the most horrendous accidents.  And poor Wiley Coyote took slapstick humor to outrageous heights of pain and misery in his Sisyphus like pursuit of the Roadrunner.

So I doubt I was alone yesterday witnessing the irony of Dick Cheney’s bad back, apparently caused by moving his junk back into his home.   Mr. Cheney cut quite the figure for himself over the last eight years, seemingly driving the nation from the passenger seat, shooting a friend in the back on a hunting trip, and this final image of being unable to walk out in the procession on his two feet.  Instead he sat off in the corner in a wheel chair.

We all hit these unfortunate accidents along our road of life.  The question to pose: what is the symbolic message in the incident?  How does the unconscious use the “accidents” as lessons to our unresponsive egos?  For instance, the broken toe, sprained ankle or injury to the hand, all of these are ripe mythological motifs that can be grouped together as “the wounded extremity.”  Often these injuries seem to call the hero or character to recognize that the ego is but an extremity or appendage to the broader forces of the Self.

The broken back has a different tone to it.  When we think of a figure needing more back bone, is it not that he or she needs to find conviction, or a sense of will power.  So this image of our former Vice President with a bad back which seemingly gave out on his last day in office reveals the humor of the Unconscious is not all that subtle in the staging of unfortunate “accidents.”

Author: Richard Reeve

I'm the Senior Director of Development at Panthera, a global conservation organization committed to stemming the population decline of cats in the wild. I enjoy rural living with my wife Judith and our two children in the Catskill Mountains of New York.