Archive for June 2014
I must be a bit cranky today. If so, I blame it on the weather which is showing a miserable face today. With glowering gray skies that threaten and sometimes deliver on rain which is not needed by my garden and lawns any longer, as well as a cold breeze that makes cool temperatures feel even colder, I am spending the day, grumpily, reading the words of others who are complaining. I hear their voices pleading for justice or for some reality that they feel should exist, a demand for their rights accompanied by lofty idealism. Their voices sometimes wear me out. They are so focused on shoulds and shouldn’ts that they fail to honour what is in front of their faces.
Yes, people should be kind; babies should be healthy and live almost forever; husbands and wives should be faithful and in love forever after; and the list goes on and on and on. Who wouldn’t want the world to be perfect as they see it? The problem is we don’t all see the same world the same way. So we take positions, build philosophies, religions, social systems and legal systems in order to try to line up everyone in straight rows following the straight path. In fact, it is hard to find even one other person who will agree fully with whatever ultimate order each of us might conceive. And naturally, we become somewhat angry and resentful towards the world and the people in it, frustrated that even our own people don’t seem to get it.
And so, we go to war on so many different levels trying to convert the world and the people in it. We use passive-aggressive strategies to have our way in our families and among our friends. We try bribery to win over the hearts and minds of our children. We use guilt and shame when bribery fails. We work hard at this work and find out that where success has happened, it is worthless, for even we have abandoned the original truths in favour of new truths.
Shoulds and shouldn’ts are about control, not about being authentically oneself. Shoulds and shouldn’ts are about ego, about fleeing from the shadows that haunt us, especially those shadows we find within ourselves, shadows we project onto others whom we then beat up with words, with sanctions and sometimes with bullets and bombs.
I am not all that much different as I have a list of shoulds and shouldn’ts that I impose of myself. And, if given power, I might even try to impose them on others in a mistaken belief that I know best. The world of shoulds and shouldn’ts raises up a heat within me. If I am lucky I see the signs and make an effort to take my seat on a cushion and meditate. If I am luckier, the meditation soothes that heat and the world of shoulds and shouldn’ts retreats back into a dark corner where it will lurk waiting for another moment of weakness.
A strange mood has descended upon me. It is as though I have slipped into a middle space between objective, conscious reality and the land of the unconscious. I have been here before and it usually serves as a harbinger of intensive psychological work or of a spell of darkness. This time, I have a sense that I am being gently guided to finishing a work that has occupied me for the last five months.
The work is a re-telling of my life, at least the first twenty years of my life with my family of origin. The re-telling has been attempted several times in the past with varying levels of success. The first time I managed to fill twenty-five pages. The second time it grew larger. The third time it changed into a series of flashback scenes that somehow needed to fit into what I had consciously put down onto paper. This time, the work is growing and taking shape as a single unit with an obvious life-trail, my life, flowing through it. What has happened to make this work?
Before I answer that question, I need to set a framework, a container of context. In the re-telling of one’s story, as the story begins to emerge out of the past, current daily life becomes impacted. And, current daily life serves to trigger flashbacks that lead back to the story being told. Complexes get activated and as I try to make sense of the fallout from those moments of activation, I learn more about my past story. It is as though the darkness hiding these scenes is being stripped away, one layer at a time to reveal a naked and vulnerable soul of a young Robert once known as Bobby, Robert (at school) and Robert (French pronunciation). However, this peeling away of layers didn’t happen consciously. Rather, it took a subtle change in how I wrote. I was writing to heal, to expose the scars to the sunlight, to expose them to the light of consciousness so that the air and light could work its magic. It was a strategy that I learned as a teenager when it looked like the darkness was going to win.
As a teenager, I took my pain into an open meadow surrounded by trees, stripped off my clothing and cried while hugging myself. The meadow bathed in sunshine was my safe sanctuary where I would read poetry and then write while my clothing at on the ground near my feet. When this memory surfaced, I found myself, now as a person well on his way to old age, doing the same thing. With writing sans vêtements I found the words arriving, words and scenes that flooded my heart and brain. They had been waiting for me to approach them totally vulnerable, and with that vulnerability, a trust developed.
I have tried retreating from this awkward practice of writing while my clothes sit in a pile, but when I try writing like a normal person with my clothing on, a chilling silence develops. It took me a few times, actually a lot of time, before I finally clued in that “it is what it is” and to trust it. So, I write while nude, as natural as I can be as a human. After all, I am a part of nature, just as much as the Pronghorn in the photo.
The image I chose for today’s post is “okay,” just another one of what perhaps is an endless series of moon shots that I have sitting in my extensive photo archives. I took this one with the new camera using the 50mm setting on the lens. I am more impressed that I got this much detail with such a small lens and can hardly wait to have a telephoto lens which will give me even better results with distant objects.
The distance forced me to crop away most of the sky in order to fill enough space with the moon leaving the moon lose the typically sharper edges I have normally obtained, and that is good as I am not looking for crystal clear, but for some mystery and the suggestion that there is so much unknown, so much that is unknowable.
I took this photo with my new camera not too many hours after buying the camera, a Sony A6000. The camera is an early birthday present from my wife as I turn sixty-five this summer – officially an old fogey with all the privileges that go with being old such as free provincial park passes and reduced rates for golf and transportation by public transit.
The camera is the lightest DSLR that I have been able to find weighing in less than 500 grams with lens attached, an important consideration as we plan our long walk across northern Spain in the fall of 2015. The camera is wifi enabled and can send photos directly to my tablet, a Nexus 7, wirelessly. Less cords means less weight. The camera is also the most complicated DSLR with a 24 megapixel resolution. It is a steep upgrade from my older Sony A550. That said, in spite of being old, I think I can still learn a thing or two in the time remaining.
On a recent hike through a natural setting I came across quite a few wildflowers. I wasn’t so sure that this was “wild” or “natural” to Northern Alberta, but it definitely was found as a volunteer flower. Flowers, like people, seem to find their way into all sorts of environments and often adapt to local conditions. Humans are adaptable when healthy. When stressed and ill at ease, no place feels like home.
The past few weeks have been more about sitting without forcing life to happen. It has been a different time as I have had no expectations and simply allowed life around me to unfold as it always does. Perhaps this is the most honest way of being, having ego step aside instead of trying to control self, other, and the universe.