Archive for May 2009
I’m back again after a break of a few days. Life in fast lane of retirement sometimes gets too fast and too full for spending more time here. That said, the second book is basically done for the SoFoBoMo project. I will likely upload the book either later today or tomorrow after finishing the proofreading for typos. The upload version will be smaller in size than the first book simply because I have learned to save the pdf in a minimum size format through MS Word.
That said, the book is not finished. I am going through the process having others doing detailed “readings” so that the book can be ready for publication in a print format as a formal book. This suggest that I will also be revisiting the first book for the same purpose. It is good to know that this process begun as a SoFoBoMo challenge has rekindled the urge to write. It has been a long time coming, but the it has been worth the wait. I think that I am better able to actually write something worth reading at this point in my life. Now, on with the tale.
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The holy grail
The treasure of the hero’s journey, is awareness of self. Not only awareness of self, but of one’s relation to the greater whole, God/Self. One knows that consciousness of self is also about awareness of one’s relationship to the cast of characters, the archetypes that are part of both the personal and collective unconsciousness. One knows the power of the archetypes and how easily it is to be consumed by the archetype. These archetypes are the guardians of the collective unconscious of humankind. To win self-awareness is a monumental task, a heroic task considering the need to confront and pass these guardians. As Joseph Campbell describes it:
On the other hand, if the trophy has been attained against the opposition of its guardian, or if the hero’s wish to return to the world has been resented by the gods or demons, then the last stage of the mythological round becomes a lively, often comical, pursuit. This flight may be complicated by marvels of magical obstruction and evasion. (Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, p. 197.)
On the return to world as a transformed person, in many ways as a reborn person similar to a phoenix rising out of the ashes, the self is met by all kinds of setbacks as though the complexes and archetypes are attempting to keep their power which had become dominant even in the outer world.
The tests and challenges continue. Old habits are hard to lose, especially those which have evolved in context with other people and other activities. It is not enough to just change and be aware of the change. One must also be ready for the known world to have remained the same and to have that world not recognize any change because of blindness caused by its own state of being unaware of self and others.
Returning often involves significant losses. Perhaps, these are the biggest challenges yet to be faced. Will one regress out of depression and defeat because of the losses, especially the loss of a significant other or the loss of identity in the community.
Earlier in the afternoon, I went to borrow a drill bit for my basement renovation project and disturbed a robin that was sitting on a nest. Immediately she flew away and perched in a nearby tree and was joined by her mate. Togethery they created quite a bit of noise hoping I would disappear. I got a number of shots of the two of them and eventually a shot of mama on her nest. Here is a photo of papa robin.
Yesterday I began reading a new book by Barack Obama called Dreams From My Father, a book I’ve had for a while but was too busy with the SoFoBoMo project research to find time to read it. The project, book two is now done. I will upload it to the SoFoBoMo site tomorrow. Now, back on track. Yesterday evening I got a phone call from a relation asking for a digital recording of a song he wants to use for a home-made movie using Adobe Photoshop Elements, a song about children. I sent him “Teach Your Children Well” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young as it has long been a favourite of mine, a song I used to play back when. With nostalgia hitting, I wandered through some other songs until another song caught my eye, “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens. It wasn’t the right kind of song for the movie project, but it was just what I needed to listen to at that moment.
Now taking in all of this, there are three events which talk about fathers and children. This could be all about coincidence and I left it at that. Late this afternoon, just as I put the last touches on the SoFoBoMo book, I got a phone call from my son with the news that he will become a father to a son. Now this is more than coincidence. The mother? Her name is Robyn. Synchronicity at work.
This man seems happy with his life at the moment that I took his photo on the edges of the Great Thar Desert in Rajasthan. A shephard of sheep carrying a young one who likely is too tired to keep up with the flock. It looks almost idyllic, a scene from the biblical past. Yet, appearances can be deceiving. Life as a shephard is hard. Poverty eats away at one’s life and poisons relationships. In the quest for water, there are many violent quarrels with neighbours. In the quest for peace, there are many violent quarrels in the home – husbands and wives at each other’s hearts and souls; fathers and sons at each other’s throats. How does one find space, time and energy for honouring the self in this climate of poverty, sparseness and festering relationships?
I learned a lot in India. I asked questions and I listened. And I learned that for all of our differences, within we are all the same. And it is these similarities that are at the heart of the journey of self discovery, the focus of the text and photos of my second SoFoBoMo book.
Another visit to the archives for this photo from January, 2008. I am currently writing about the return to community, the return home with the treasure, in my SoFoBoMo book, one of the last stages of the hero’s journey. Many of the stories told by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces, are taken for Indian mythology. The return “home” in a psychological sense as well as a physical sense is a powerful theme … unless this is your home. Home is obviously not about a physical structure, it is about the container of family. And even in this photo, the container is there and it is strong, powerful in its influence upon the psyche of each person within the family, especially upon the children.
It pays to think about what kind of “home” we provide for our own children. It also pays to think about what kind of container we have provided for children who have long left the home to make homes for themselves. There is still much to tell, woundings to explain, confessions to be made and forgiveness to be sought and given – especially from one’s self. We are least likely to forgive ourselves for wounding our children, for wounding our mates, for continuing to wound our own souls. Somehow, we need to do this in order to find peace.
This photo was “staged,” not something I found in nature. The setting is in a prairie pond, a left over from the spring snow melt. In another week I expect that the pond will have disappeared. I took it because I wanted somehow to evoke a sense of container, of temenos. I do have a version of this photo in the final collection for the second SoFoBoMo book. Now on to part two of the Refusal of Return.
Stranger in a strange land
Why can’t they see me?
Though I found myself in a different school which had a different history, a different community culture and different needs, I was still the golden wonder child of school administration in my own head. My success in the first school left me believing that the force of my vision was enough to carry all those who now saw me as the leader into a brighter future.
The lessons learned in approaching the first school were forgotten. I wanted to just continue from where I had left off in the previous school, to build on what I had learned. And so, I found myself alone in a strange place that was filled with people.
I was the wounded healer coming to heal the wounded found in this new school. The problem was, I didn’t know these wounded people; I didn’t do the work of getting to know them, to hear about their wounding and their healing needs. I assumed that they would simply follow the bright shining star which I was following, a star that burned within me.
Even before the first day of school, the cracks began to show. The lack of connection between myself and the staff widened from simply being strangers to a level of fear on their part. Who was this stranger who seemed to walk without actually touching the earth? I had sown the seeds my own downfall in this school.
Unaware of the state of relations, I listened to each complaint and masterfully resolved each issue that came forward. However, instead of moving toward a better state of being, the complaints began to multiply. I problem-solved faster and faster only to find myself sinking further and further into a black hole.
Other than an hour in the basement cutting baseboards for the bathroom, it has all been about being outside in the warm sunshine. A good part of the day was spent on the golf course followed by a quick drive out to another location for a photo I wanted for the book. Once back home, it was enough just to sit on the deck reading in the sunshine until it was time to barbeque. It’s important not to live one’s life fully in the head. Today, the research and writing was put on hold. Not much left to do on the book so there is time to relax and “think” about what I have yet to say.
This photo was one of today’s catches. You will notice that it is “normal” in that I didn’t use the “tunnel vision” style . I took this one from the parking lot of the golf course. I wanted, somehow, to share with you the experience I had while on the golf course. There was no one else golfing on the course. It is farming country and all are busy. Part way through the round of golf, I sat on a bench in the sunshine, listening to a meadow lark which was sitting on top of a tree, a rare tree on this golf course. Other than her song, there was nothing but silence. Sunshine, silence, warmth, and the panorama of hills and the lake holding it all together as if in a cauldron. It was a special moment, a holy moment. I stopped a few more times during the round of golf to enjoy more of this. In the end, I walked off the course with my best round of golf in a few years and not just in terms of the score.
This photo is yet another scene from the front of my house looking south in the late afternoon. There is a sense of foreboding as though the coming night will bring storms, spiritual and spacial. I have only three more photos left to place in the second SoFoBoMo book (this one didn’t make the cut) and ten pages of writing. With today’s weather, the work will progress rapidly. Today’s entry highlights the twelfth of the seventeen stages, the Refusal of Return.
Wounds become sacred
Dreams become familiar friends
Return becomes a threat
Lessons have been learned. The journey, a search for meaning has resulted in healing one’s soul and discovering the worth of one’s self. One knows that there is much yet to discover, however there is a well-earned hope that what yet remains to be discovered is there for discovering. One has found meaning. Even the pain and suffering that has wounded the self from childhood to the present state has been graced with meaning and purpose. One discovers, not a victim, but a hero in answering the call to this journey.
Daryl Sharp commented about this journey, the search for wholeness and meaning and those who have dared this journey by saying that those:
… who have heard the call to an individual life, are the chosen ones. Under cover and by devious paths they set forth to their destruction or salvation, seeking by direct experience of the eternal roots. Following the lure of the restless objective psyche, they find themselves alone in the wilderness. Will they save their souls, become personalities? Will they individuate? Discover who they are, really? (Sharp, Who Am I Really?, p. 134, 1995.)
To have dared this journey has been rewarded with the greatest of all boons. Now what?
The next step along the journey is to step back into the world taking the treasure back into one’s community so as to effect change in the consciousness of the collective.
What? Leave this wonderland for the drab world that had so wounded?