Archive for August 2012
Yesterday I spoke about an inner and an outer journey and how one’s journey becomes an event that has an effect on all those who surround us, either directly or indirectly. Today, I want to focus on self. The outer journey begins as my plane takes off at 1:05 pm Central Standard Time, from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Some hours later I transfer in Toronto, Ontario, Canada en route to Paris, France. Just thinking of taking leave of my wife at the airport already brings tears to my eyes. A song is going through my head, Leaving on a Jet Plane, as sung by John Denver, a song that I have played on my guitar countless times. Each time I have sung this song, it has moistened my eyes and built up pressure within my chest, each time somehow intuitively aware that this was also my song to my wife in some future time. Today is that time. Today, I am leaving on a jet plane.
My journey is taking me deep into my own unconscious, deep into an unknown country of silences, shadows and ruins, a place where I will be battling ghosts and dragons that are unique to my psyche. Yet, because they are found in my unconscious, they are not so unique in the collective sense. I will be bumping into the ghosts and dragons of my father and mother and others. Slaying these ghosts and dragons is probably not the right way to explain what will happen, perhaps it would be better to say that I will be embracing these ghosts and monsters with forgiveness and compassion so that they can achieve peace in order for me to also achieve peace.
I fly into the sky in order to plant my feet on the path of pilgrimage. I fly into the inner world as if to the moon underwater in order to plant my spirit and soul on their pilgrimage. Bon Chemin, Buen Camino.
It is our anniversary today. My partner in life, a woman who inspired me to propose the evening we met (yes, she accepted at that time) is close by my side as I prepare this post, looking at photos we have taken over the past week. I am in awe of this woman who somehow has found the strength to be strong as I prepare to make a very long journey, a pilgrimage in France and Spain. It would have been easy to give up the pilgrimage if she had not insisted that I follow my spirit. I know that over the next several months we will both have melt-downs simply because we are apart from each other. We have not done well being apart. Yet, this time apart has become important for both of us. Coming back together is the prize for being strong in terms of relationship. But an even greater prize is how both of us will have become “fuller” people in the process; stronger as individuals who choose to continue being life mates, heart mates.
Where will this dual journey take us? The answer is unknown; it is all about discovery as we both navigate each day separated from the other, forced to be fully connected to self. We will meet each day on an outer level as we pass the hours in a multitude of ways. But it is the inner journey that will likely prove to be the most difficult as we wrestle with loneliness and separation. I have no doubt that each day will see us both wondering what the hell we are doing apart from each other, especially at those times when we are most doubtful about ourselves. But then again, the fact that these journeys are about to begin is a testament in their own ways that we are both ready for these journeys.
When I began thinking about the pilgrimage and then planning it, I had thought that I was the only one going on a pilgrimage. Now, after the long preparation for the pilgrimage, I have learned that we are both going on journeys. That is one thing that is vital to understand. When you are in a relationship with another person, everything you do creates ripples for that other person. As I began to learn more about how this affected both of us, I became more aware of how it affected others around both of us – our children, our grandchildren, extended family, community friends . . . and the list will grow to include others that neither of us are as yet aware. And curiously, as we both see the affect on others, we find ourselves changing yet again due to the ripples of their changes.
And so I thank all who fill my life as I prepare to board a jet plane tomorrow to begin the physical pilgrimage where the journey is about placing one foot on the path and then taking another step and another step until I have reached Santiago de Compostela. I include you, my readers here in this thank you for your presence here is real and you are within the web of reciprocal change.
With just over a week remaining until my departure for Europe, I find myself doing a lot of thinking about too many things. In an effort to still the thinking I have resorted to finding all sorts of things to do such as digging out old berry bush roots, trimming hedges, and sorting through things that have been sorted too many times already; all without achieving much success at keeping the thinking at bay. Even my meditation sessions have been getting noisy. I guess it is to be expected as a journey into the unknown (spiritually and psychologically) will become an active, day-to-day process.
I have packed my travel items into the backpack and weighed it a number of times. I have about 15 pounds (7 kilograms) including the backpack as my target weight. So far, I have remained under that weight. I take out each piece to reconsider its necessity for the journey. Likely I am still packing too much even though I have room and weight to spare. And this focus on my backpack still doesn’t silence those voices beneath the layer of consciousness. Something else is stirring that wants to be heard.
Pretending I don’t hear, I turn to blog sites about the Camino or to the discussion forum for experience pilgrims and pilgrim wannabes. Then this morning, I picked up a book started long ago which has been lying on my shelves ignored. Why? I don’t ask why when I am drawn to a book. Rather, I just listen to what emerges.
“Death and hopelessness provide proper motivation – proper motivation for living an insightful, compassionate life.
When we talk about hopelessness and death, we’re talking about facing the facts. No escapism.
Giving up hope is encouragement to stick with yourself, to make friends with yourself, to not run away from yourself, to return to the bare bones, no matter what is going on. Fear of death is the background of the whole thing. It’s why we feel restless, why we panic, why there’s anxiety. But if we totally experience hopelessness, giving up all hope of alternatives to the present moment, we can have a joyful relationship with our lives, an honest, direct relationship, one that no longer ignores the reality of impermanence and death.” (Chodron, When Things Fall Apart, pp 44-45)
This is why I am embarking on a pilgrimage. I am giving up on expecting others, things, and activities to rescue me from myself. I am daring myself to face my ghosts, my dark holes, my shadows and perhaps learn to accept them and accept myself as I really am. No more chasing phantoms, no more quest for some sort of fame that would define me in acceptable ways. And to do this, I need to put myself in a place where I am alone and dependent upon my body, my spirit, my psyche and all of my warts.
In twelve days I will be sitting on a plane heading towards France and the thousand mile long pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. I will be doing the first leg, a short leg, in the city of Paris before taking the train to Le Puy en Velay where the process will begin in earnest. At this time, with less than two weeks to go, I find that all of my “stuff” is ready for the most part. But that is just “stuff,” the easy part to get ready. There really isn’t too much to ponder when it comes to socks, pants and tops and other long-hike essentials. The hard part is being ready psychologically and spiritually.
How does one leave a home and one’s soulmate for such an extended period of time? I find myself treasuring each moment with my wife, my house, my garden and the small things that make a life at home. For the most part, I have given up thinking of past and future and have been living in the moment. I guess I am learning how to see the world from a more Buddhist perspective.
But that said, I find myself returning to the computer at times, usually with the excuse of unsubscribing from those groups and businesses that somehow find a way to fill one’s e-mail mailbox. And while on the computer I find myself reading other blog sites of people who have gone before me taking the Le Puy route. And in those moments I am lost in some future following their words and my imagination. I could call it informational preparation, but it is more than that. And in those moments, I am anything but being present in the moment. Rather, I am like this tree stuck out on a point of land surrounded by water wondering where the path of my life has gone, as though I am in some dream searching for some directional marker to lead me back home.
I will be back again before I fly off into another time, place, space and existential moment.
Note: Here is a good look at the GR65 route from Le Puy en Velay to Saint Jacques Pied de Port. And here is the first of many maps that chart the journey. Just a reminder that the GR65 will take me to the start of the Camino Francés at Saint Jacques Pied de Port.
Sometimes words fail me. Sometimes words create an expectation that I fail to measure up to for one reason or other. For example, the intention to blog about the pilgrimage at a different blog site. I began to follow the intention and then it blew up within me. And so, I retreated into silence
As I mentioned a number of days ago, I will be posting here very little for the next while. I have built a second blog site which will be my “main” focus for this “time out” from Through a Jungian Lens. The new site is called It’s All About The Journey.
The blog site is no more. I lost the enthusiasm to continue even before I had walked my first step of the pilgrimage. And, I retreated into silence. My children and grandchildren have helped me fill the silence over the past two weeks, a good thing as I have this tendency to slip into dark holes when things fall apart on me, within me. Today, the last of my children and grandchildren begin their journey home. I was blessed with all being home at the same time and being able to celebrate that fact together.
It was a good time but it did have an edge of sadness as all knew that in a few weeks I would be gone, basically out of communication through regular channels while on my pilgrimage.