Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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Day slips silently into night under a blanket of secrecy
Vallies obscured by clouds are inhabited by shadow creatures
Existing as foggy, sketchy, floating colors and shapes
Without a grounding influence or organizing principle
When the sun sets they arise to do emotional damage
To the unsuspecting addicted souls who hover just above
In hypnotic trances induced by the pressure of life and love
Don’t stare into the sunset, or let your mind drift and shift
If you seek perspective and wisdom stay alert until the fog lifts.
This poem is written in response to this week’s photo prompt on Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo. She shares an excellent photo each Thursday for interpretation by anyone who cares to write a pice of fiction of poetry. Please join us to read, write, or comment.
My father was a petroleum engineer by profession. He had a PHD in industrial engineering (computers) from Texas A&M, and taught in the petroleum department of that university until his retirement at an advanced age. He started his life with a schoolteacher mother and a father who drilled oil wells before the invention of the rotary bit. He was born in Independence, Kansas, in the Cherokee Strip, in 1920. The affluence the oil boom provided to the area was unprecedented anywhere in the world at the time. His undergraduate degree from Oklahoma University in the 1940’s was earned with a slide rule, his PHD in the 1960’s was figured on a main frame computer that filled a large building on campus, but had only a little bit more power than that slide rule. Only a true engineer could love computers at that time, and my father was completely smitten. He used to rave about the amazing power of data processing at the dinner table when I was in high school. I thought he was just nuts.
The engineer archetype was the dominant feature in my dad’s personality. He was mathematical to a fault because he always tried to prove his own assumptions with his “research”. He had no mechanical ability, no tools, and no inclination to fix things around the house. He was master of the lawnmower and the Hasty Bake smoker, but my mother was in charge of repairs and maintenance of every kind. I think my dad had a hammer and a screwdriver, but the garage shelves were filled with chemicals, crude oil in jars, and fishing gear. Tools were not featured at all. He was famous in the field of petroleum engineering, but to those who knew him best, his family, he was absent minded and out of touch with reality. When both of my parents became hot air balloon pilots in their 60’s it was my mother who repaired the balloon and drove the chase car. My dad took unreasonable risks flying balloons, and made some very hard landings as a result. He injured himself in one of those hard landings to the point that he gave up commercial flights. His positive ability of the engineer to design innovative solutions for problems seemed to by limited to oil fields, but not apply to real life. He was connected to the mechanical, but not the emotional reality of all things. This took him to some dark places with serious consequences for both him and our family.
The father archetype, when true to its higher purpose, is a caring, protective, guiding force to his family and tribe. Abusive reliance on dictatorial attitudes characterize the shadow aspect of the father. Although my dad was playful, loving, and fun, his fathering was of the controlling authoritarian variety. He was not concerned as much with support and guidance as he was with appearances. His father, my grandfather, was the man I looked to for protection and wisdom. After my grandpa passed away there was only a kind of space cadette petroleum engineer to fill his shoes. Intellectualism does not a father make.
I am not saying he failed completely as a dad. He read Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and other books to me aloud. He did lots of excellent chemistry experiments with me and brought me chemicals and dry ice from his lab. As a fellow alchemist I thought he was the bomb (he taught me to make them). He also took great pains to teach me how to fish. I did like fishing very much when I was a child. Do you have an archetypal father, gentle reader? Positive or negative? Most are a mixture of both.
Last week in San Francisco my friends and I attended Blind Cafe, an enlightening evening in the dark. This is a show that travels around the country, gathering local volunteers and donations in each city in order to put on the production. None of us knew what to expect, other than a blind tasting and some music. It turned out to be amazing on many levels. Happy hour was in dim light with the guests drinking wine and meeting each other as well as the visiting puppies in training and their guardian/trainers. The two darling golden retriever mix pups were loving and enthusiastic about partying with everyone. Our tickets were arranged in tables with seating numbers so when the time came for us to go into the darkness we lined up with a hand on the shoulder in front of us to be guided to our places. Our group of three briefly met some of our table mates while we were in line.
The room was pitch black and very loud. It seems that when we have no sight we begin to turn up the volume in order to stay in touch. The plate of delicious vegetarian food was set in front of each chair, but the table also was full of other items in the center that could only be discovered by feeling. We were given plastic forks, but they did not last very long for most of us. I was happy to find water bottles in the center, and friends passed me some exquisite bites from other places in the table. Most of the talk was about the food and how to find it, but somehow the person across the table from me started talking about his ultra special diet. Before you could say gluten intolerant I was involved in a heated argument with this stranger in the dark. We were already in an organic vegetarian situation, so I did not want to hear that eating one of the goat cheese roll ups would cause him to become bipolar. Quickly I determined that he took bipolar drugs as well as LSD and copious amounts of alcohol, but that was not enough. He explained that he had a masters’ degree in interpersonal shamanism and was therefore totally aware of the incongruities he presented. He said he agreed that LSD might make him think he is bipolar/bisexual. My friend seated next to me asked me why I was freaking out at this man, and I asked myself the same question. Luckily it was time for us to all do active listening during the comedy and music entertainment, so we had to end the fight. I have wondered why this bipolar/bisexual LSD person was there for me, and what archetypes we both represented in the food fight. I maintained that orthorexia is damaging, and he maintained that goat cheese can potentially cause in his life temporary states of mental breakdown. I will not know his name, and I was careful when we left not to look to see his face. He is a mystery shadow that completely engaged my shadow, but in the dark!!! Who was that????
If you go I doubt that you will encounter any transpersonal analysis sitting across the dinner table from you. This had to be some special San Francisco thing that could not happen again. The food and the fun were beyond compare; Who knew it came with an archetypal lesson?
The saboteur archetype is at the heart of the reasons you do not attempt change. Each person has a saboteur, but few of us have any knowledge of how it works. When this archetype speaks it is important to decipher the message. It wants us to give up, put off, or just forget our aspirations. It offers plenty of reasons for you to be discouraged from trying any kind of change. It takes a dim view of just about everything.
What can you learn from the nagging pessimistic voice in your head that will lead you eventually to contentment? You can openly learn the language and the logic it uses in order to engage it in a meaningful dialog with you. Listen to the voice of your sceptic in order to understand how and why you stay stagnant, unable to accomplish what you set out to do. Begin to identify the script your inner critic uses to deflate your hopes and postpone your dreams. As in dreamscapes, there might be themes that are literal or more symbolic. There are deeper interpretations to archetypal insights, but basically our saboteur teaches us how to see through fear founded in insecurity. The reasons we believe we are not capable are usually unexamined. Once the issues are observed in the light, the lesson can be to use logic and wisdom rather than fear to draw boundaries. The energy and power bound up in the struggle between our whole selves and our personal traitors is a tragic waste. Sit down and have a drink with your saboteur. You both sabotage and are sabotaged in ways you do not currently recognize. Long term analysis will not bee needed to find the main talking points used to discourage you on a regular basis. As with a human bully, be firm and polite when dealing with your inner punk.
“You don’t just integrate your “shadow.” It’s not an aspect of personality but a mysterious element in the human condition.” – Thomas Moore’s tweet of the day today. @thomasmooreSoul is on twitter, like @Pontifex. They both know Latin, liturgy, and the Holy Ghost. Their twitter streams could not possibly be more different. Thomas Moore tweets a dab of darshan daily to his small following. Nobody tweets crass insulting things to him, like they do to the Pope. It is a quiet, one way stream, like the Tao itself..bringing us closer to the truth every day. The truth is always downhill, and flow always involves removal of obstructions. Today he is tweeting about the much misunderstood Jungian theory of the shadow. Shadow can very well be the prime obstruction to living a happy full life. So, where is this mighty shadow, anyhow?
The shadow is the part of your self, or your society, of which you are unaware. It is hidden by your extreme belief in what you are fed by your ego. The ego is the weakest link to reality, in a way, because it only wants to confirm and uphold status quo as it prefers it. Meditation, contemplation, or artistic endeavors bring perspective needed to see this shadow. It is the reason you are in whatever rut you occupy. The rut is like a bunker maintained by your self image. Like a city with big buildings, no shadow is cast down in the bunker, except maybe at noon for a while. In the “reality bunker” the ego rules and keeps other aspects in the belief system you know as your rut.
With Groundhog Day fast approaching, consider celebration this year by leaving your thought bunker to risk seeing your shadow. How might a gentle reader do such a thing? Silence is the threshold. Meditation is the key. Mandala is the map. Wisdom is the reward. Walking a labyrinth is a wonderful way to begin.
Have you ever asked yourself, “Why can’t people just love each other?” Until I studied Jungian psychology, I certainly did. I knew lots of good people who acted loving. Yet when I got to know them I invariably discovered that they were just as challenged in the love department as I was. So why do even the most well-meaning people find it so difficult to love?
What I discovered after several years of inner work was that the primary obstacle to love is a psychologically ignorant ego which fears otherness, both without and within. From personal experience I also learned that this one-sided ego-centricism has nine basic characteristics:
1. No matter how loving we try to be, the primary motivation beneath our good intentions is self-interest.
2. Our belief that we are a loving person is not based on authentic feeling, but on the persona (our social personality) we constructed in…
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