Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
William Shakespeare sets out seven ages of man in this monologue from As You Like it. Carl Jung used characters as archetypes to describe the different aspects of one human life. These archetypes are played out in ancient Greek drama and mythology. From biblical proverbs to modern fiction characters based on eternal qualities of humanity are employed to tell stories. We embody different characters during our journey toward the end of life, sometimes joyous and other times somber. We act as students and as guides, as teachers and as pilgrims. Our energies are spent on our greatest passions, and we become known for our most obvious traits. Both our view of the world and the world’s view of us is constantly changing. The way we relate to one group may be different from the way we act toward another one.
Before we die we play parts that we have never considered. The soul is intricate and connected to the past as well as the future. Spirit and soul demand that our basic clay be sculpted into figures that arise from our dreams. The figures are fired in a kiln of experience and discernment. We are asked to step out on a ledge of unknowing in order to satisfy our inner longings. Some of our feelings come from the ancestors and some from our society. By observing our inner lives we can make the acquaintance of our own archetypes at work. By looking into patterns from the past and present we may notice how we fit into the story with other archetypes, the other players on the stage with us.
October is time for costuming and honoring the dead. Let us notice which characters cross our paths, and which ones we are playing. We are the casting directors of our own dramas….scary, isn’t it?
I bought the audio book Falling Upward at the suggestion of a fellow student at a conference I attended last June. I encountered the contemplatives for the first time, and had a lot to learn from them. James Finley guided us for a meaningful and educational weekend. I owned an audio book by Dr Finley and Carolyn Myss covering the subject I have already heard at the conference, transcending trauma. This complex idea deserved a review, so on my recent car trip I listed to the trauma book to deepen my understanding. On my trip back home I decided to hear Richard Rohr read his own book, Falling Upward. I started from Clarkdale before dawn and arrived in Tucson about 10 in the morning. Most of the drive was really scenic, but even Phoenix traffic was bearable because I was enjoying the book so thoroughly. I have one disc still to hear, but I am fully ready to recommend this book to anyone, especially to those over 40. This is another way to look at retirement planning, from a spiritual perspective.
Falling Upward explains spirituality as it pertains to the two halves of life. In other words, humans are involved in the giant birth/death/recycle action of the universal field. There is a time for building up, and a very appropriate time for breaking down. All of nature does this constantly. Although Mr Rohr is a Franciscan and a Catholic priest, his point of view is not all presented from a theological stance. He knows history very well and uses his experience in the study of initiation rites of native people around the world to draw large conclusions. His conviction is that humans are capable of taking a grand excursion of the soul. He reminds us that all saints and holy figures leave home on a big crazy journey, only to return to home. The journey represents necessary suffering that teaches the mystery beyond the suffering. In the second half of life this death of the perceived self, or being in the world but not of it, can lead to enlightenment. In our culture many of us cling to the structures we built in our youth as if there is nothing greater or beyond our own creative control. Falling Upward involves letting go to the point that previous reality fades from view as we float to our intended home in eternal bliss. Sound kooky??? Well, it is. All the saints and prophets were considered to be out of their minds. Many were killed. Before the truth sets you free it generally makes you appear to be crazy.
I like to hear authors read their own books to me. I feel like it becomes more personal. This one is very special because I had never heard of Richard Rohr before his fan told me about him last June. Now I am a huge fan too. I invite you to listen, gentle reader. I could make a big difference in the end.
James Hillman, well known Jungian scholar, talks about soul and psychology:
His observations are pertinent today as we live with serious division in the nation’s psyche. The congress is a symbolic and highly visible example of our troubled national soul. When I was young I felt patriotic and secure that America was the greatest nation in the world. The Viet Nam War and civil rights struggles in the states changed my mind about that. I had the chance to live outside the US for a year when I was 13-14, in Venezuela. I learned Spanish. I had listened to Fidel Castro on the radio. My psyche had already been subverted before Viet Nam.
I have never missed an opportunity to vote in any election since I turned 21. I pay all my taxes and obey the law. I am a tiny part of the deeply troubled economy that is driving the young and the old into poverty. My personal comfort and economic security are good, but neighbors all around me are not as lucky. I am healthy, but the nation is statistically very ill, mentally and physically. I am concerned about the bifurcation that tears the country into two unhealthy sides of some eternal controversy. I am concerned about the soul of America.