Growing Down


Childhood drawing from age 8.


Hillman’s book (1997), The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling, offers an innovative perspective on childhood that he refers to as the acorn theory. By using famous peoples lives as examples, he explains how a person’s calling and character makes itself present from the start. Like an acorn that contains the oak, so a child contains his or her future self. One example is the famous actress Judy Garland. Born into a theatrical family, her calling as a performer was apparent from birth. Also, Hillman points out foreshadowing of the American child stars downfall that is, “the myth of innocence, the psychology of denial” (Hillman, 1997, p. 50). Judy Garland’s struggle with addiction impacted her professional career achievements later in life.

Hillman (1997) explains that addiction to drugs is an attempt by the psyche to “grown down” (p. 43). This concept of balanced development is in the image of a tree that branches up into the sky as it roots down into the earth. Hillman references several mythic traditions that start at the top and explore the difficulty in going down, including; the zodiac, Buddha, the Kabbalah, Plato’s Myth of Er, and Socrates. For Judy Garland, the ascension to stardom happened first in her childhood as she became an icon of the myth of innocence. Her attempt to grow down, with drugs and alcohol, definitely was bad for her health.

Similar to Judy Garland, I have known from a young age that my calling was in the arts. I relate to the desire to be among the stars in the sky. Unlike her, I have received more guidance on the process of growing down. I feel the deepening is what is happening with my work at Pacifica and reading Hillman book reinforced my decision to start graduate school.