Archive for April 2014
It’s my son’s birthday, today. He is a father in his own right and has made me a proud grandfather as he raises his son with complete and unconditional love. It’s his turn to live the role of father and wonder if he is making all the right decisions as the years go by.
It is my gift to my son, today on his birthday, to simply say that there are no right or wrong decisions, just decisions based on what we can do out of love for our children. No one is perfect or can be perfect, but all of us can be authentic.
Since I am writing a poem each day this month for NaPoWriMo, it only fitting that today’s poem talks about fathers and sons. Happy Birthday, Dustin – love, Papa.
Fathers and Sons
A baby lies quietly in his arms
a boy child, his only son.
Perhaps this child will end
the cycle that is trapped
in repetitive cycles, generational
where the sins of fathers
are passed onto sons
for generations beyond counting.
The boy was born in the spring
a time of hope and renewal.
Perhaps the wheel of Samsara
has turned its last time
with the birth of this boy.
Taking ownership of shadow
a father bends under the weight
of sins of his father, and the fathers
going back into the dim corridors
of the past, carrying the unfinished
and unlived dreams of these men
these ancestors who all look
for release from the
unending repetition of
As a father, have I claimed
my own unfinished business
my own unlived dreams?
Have I exposed all the shadows
so that my son’s load is
And now, he is a father who
must wrestle with all the shadows
that have gone before him
shadows that have yet to be
released from their imprisonment.
2014 04 26 – Elrose, House of White
I hadn’t planned a post today or the taking of photographs. But, as I was driving to Swift Current, I saw the hills and knew I had to take a photo which then gave me an excuse to bring a post here today.
The earth, here, is slowly showing signs that it is stirring with new life, with faint tinges of green. I am waiting for the first crocus flowers to prod their heads out of the dirt and reach for the sky. And not long afterwards, buds will swell and then leaves will emerge on the tree. All of this is a gift from the earth.
It takes a certain kind of courage, perhaps a desperate courage of faith to risk the slow descent into darkness knowing that you will never return the same person you were before taking the journey to rebirth. It is a conscious decision, must be a conscious decision to dare the descent. Falling into darkness and fighting that fall, rather than trusting to the journey of transformation will never allow us to be transformed, raised from the ashes like the Phoenix bird that heralds a new consciousness. Jesus taught us this and today we celebrate his journey of descent and resurrection, a journey that is asked from each of us.
The resurrection is not simply a Christian concept, a belief in Jesus and his Father. Rather, it is about picking ourselves up after our fall. We all fall into darkness, the power of the unconscious. Few dare the work of transformation so that we, too, can resurrect offering ourselves, those around us, and the world the promise and hope that comes with transformation.
~ ~ ~
A dream disturbs sleep
the oppressive and heavy darkness
circles and intimidates
calling out, demanding
Reflexively fleeing into
a dimly-lit life, frightened
hiding behind masks
quoting responsibilities to
the shallow world of work
the constricted world of relationship
hiding behind addictions
hoping that the ghostly voices
forget that we are here.
Taken to our knees
a choice is given
to live forever in suffering
life after life
the same dramas,
or to risk it all
to again emerge into
Dare we remove the masks
strip away all that protects
and stand naked before the
cross which awaits
and suffer the flames
and the death of ego,
only then can we rise from
that death, resurrected
into the light of a new life.
2014 04 20 – Elrose, House of White
Two years ago, when I was writing on a different blog site, a site that I burned along with all of its images because it became too uncomfortable, I engaged in a dialogue between my ego-self – the persona that is called Robert – and the personal shadow which could only be encountered through active imagination in order to engage in a dialogue. I want to return again to this form of dialogue that would involve shadow, and various archetypes.
I am not sure of where this is going to go and that is good as it tells me that ego is not going to interfere too much in the process in trying to control the whole thing in order to make itself look good. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, James Hollis’ book, Why Good People Do Bad Things, a book about Shadow has stirred the pot. I begin today’s post with a scene from this past winter in Mexico.
I was walking along the beach, placing one foot in front of the other, looking about at the lay of the land as to keep to as flat a surface as possible for walking because of the pain in my right hip. While I walked I observed a shifting set of images, scenes of life on a Mayan Riviera beach. Yet curiously, all the images had more in common, a sameness, that startled me for some reason. People were playing in the sand, reading books in the shade of umbrellas, walking in the water at the shore’s edge, taking photographs of each other, laying in the sun simply soaking up the rays, walking with lovers hand in hand, or standing on the edges of the swirling life around them surveying it all as if they were outsiders. Having taken this walk for four weeks, it didn’t take long for it all to disappear from in front of my eyes. Like someone hypnotized by the yellow line that divides a highway, I lost sense of time and place. I knew that my body was paying attention to where footsteps were placed, but my consciousness had retreated .
Shadow: “I was wondering just how long it was going to take before you let the barriers down. It’s been too long, almost two years since we’ve connected.”
Robert: “Damn! I thought I had buried you deep enough that I wouldn’t have heard from you for at least another two years if not longer. What was the point of all of that analysis? I’d rather not talk with you. Screw off.”
Shadow: “Yeah, I thought this would be your attitude. Deny me, try to avoid me, repress and suppress me, or continue doing what you do by projecting me onto real people – whatever, it isn’t going to work anymore. In spite of all your efforts and strategies, here I am. Deal with it – not that you have much choice now that I am here. Blame it on all the poetry you’re writing if you need a scapegoat.”
Robert: “It’s just poetry. Nothing there that should have caught your attention.”
Shadow: “Really? I think that you are deliberately misleading yourself there, Robert. The words are not just about life on the surface, they touch something deeper. Besides, it isn’t about the words – and you know what I am talking about.”
Robert: “Remind me. I actually don’t know what you are talking about. It seems to me that most, if not all of the poems are lacking depth and so should not have awakened the beast. Now beat it, I’ve got better things to do with my time than to hallucinate a conversation with a Shadow.”
Shadow: “Beast, huh? Well, you got that right, but the word beast is so incomplete when it comes to describing me. Mr. Robert, I am both beauty and beast – the best and worst of everything you deny, hide in shame, fear and blame on others. The poems have talked of things that you aren’t even aware of. Obviously, you didn’t notice my voice mixed in with your words. Look at them, the poems again. They are an invitation from me to you to re-engage so that you can mature rather than hiding behind barred doors like some two year old child hiding in a closet. Just a word of warning, Robert. This little visit is important. Ignore it and I’ll make your life even more of a mess; you know, like a good man doing bad things mess – and that’s a promise. I will be back whether you want to deal with me or not.”
I took this photo, yesterday morning, the day after this rocker, my summer rocking chair on our deck where I often enjoy a morning coffee in sunshine, was brought out of storage. Two days ago, I was sitting outside in the sunshine without a need for a jacket. Yesterday, the unexpected paid a visit and now I find myself waiting – waiting for something else to emerge, something unexpected.
Last night, I picked up a book that I bought two years ago but have never opened. I don’t know why it took so long as I am not known for setting new books aside. Regardless, this book caught my attention and I opened it and began reading. The book, Why Good People Do Bad Things, by James Hollis, immediately gripped me and I knew that I was going to take the things that began stirring within me, here where I could reflect with the resonances and perhaps understand myself and the Shadow, more.
The general consensus among most of those who know me is that I am a good person, a nice guy in spite of my quietness. I am aware of the existence of shadows and ghosts within me, and usually I am quite successful at keeping them quiet so that I can live among others as a nice guy. I am well aware that there are depths that contain not only secrets that I want kept that way, but also a Robert that is not such a nice guy. I sense the dark Robert’s presence and tread carefully. If I simply ignore this aspect, there is usually hell to pay and I am left picking up the mess he leaves behind.
However, it isn’t about my Shadow that I want to bring here. I have done that many times already in the past. There is something more important that must be dealt with at this time. I want to bring words here as much for you as for myself. The current situation in our world is not good. I won’t go into a long list of bad things happening to us as individuals, or the environment, or to us in our communities and cultures. So, I want to begin these reflections with this opening statement from Hollis in his book:
“Those who do not consider the implications of the divided human soul remain unconscious and are therefore dangerous to self and others. Those who do bother to stop and look and ask why, become more and more attuned to the complexity of their own psychological processes; their lives grow more interesting to them; and they become less dangerous to themselves and others.” [p. xiii]
Sometimes I find it hard to stay present, especially when I am doing some planning for a future activity or adventure. I know that when it comes to myself, while doing the work of charting times, dates, routes, rest stops and planned highlights – I find myself slipping out of the task. I begin to create improbable scenario after impossible scenario, visions that emerge from the details charted.
It was only later that I realised that there was more of a problem than my simple daydreaming and castle building with sand at issue. It was the idea that the planning itself was flawed. Even if I avoided going off track and I managed to stay present on the task of identifying as many details of the “trip” as I could, I still was missing the most important part, being open to the journey – the journey from this moment to the first step on what may or may see this journey find itself continuing in a new place.
The only real task is to see possibilities and to decide at some point to engage. Should the first steps be taken on this road, the reward will be the journey itself which like each day we live our life journey. Every step through life changes us, affirms and defines us. Every step we don’t take also changes us and defines us. Every choice we make is a step on the journey – roads taken and roads not taken.
“We live in an atmosphere of shame. We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinions, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins.” —George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, 1903
Freedom from shame, a state of being that can best be thought of as a free spirit, a person who rises above the collective, or as Friedrich Nietzsche called this type of person, an overman, a superman. Today we all credit the beginnings of modern social nudism to the FKK movement. In reality, nudity was a normal part of life in Europe until the 18th century. Driven underground and declared an act of deviancy, it took a rebellion of youth encouraged by Nietzsche to live in harmony with nature, to embrace nudism, meditation and natural healing to bring nudism to the modern world, in spite of modern man who was and remains, ashamed of his naked body.
George Bernard Shaw embodied this rejection of shame, rejecting sublimation to the collective unconscious which brings out the worst in humans in communities across the world. It doesn’t take much for neuroses to become embedded into a culture. We gather together in communities, primarily out of fear of being alone. We view the others outside of our communities as inferior or even enemies. Within our communities, those who don’t accept the collective neuroses as moral truths are shamed with the intention of having conformity, unity. In the end, no one naturally fits into the collective paradigm and as a result we end up with individuals who suffer in shame, in self-doubt and expend a lot of money and energy to hide their natural differences from the average modern man.
Shaw wrote the words above more than a hundred years ago. As I read them, I realised that nothing has changed, unless we have moved even deeper into a collective culture of shame and being offended by differences.