Archive for December 26th, 2010
Christmas supper at my home in China was spent with a collection of expats. Gathered at the table were Americans, Australians, Canadians and a Japanese woman – each with a unique story, a unique gift of presence. The gift we give each other is the gathering together, becoming family for a few hours. At the table were three people that I had not met before and likely won’t see again except for chance meetings in the centre of the city. I say this because of the fact that we live quite a ways apart, at least and hour and a half by bus separates us. They needed a place to go to in order to feel a sense of “going home for Christmas,” and our door was open. Four of the guests at the table were colleagues from the university. And, sitting at the head of the table was my wife with her blond hair. The photo is just one of millions of such photos that were taken across the globe as people sat down with guests for a Christmas meal. And, one didn’t have to be a Christian to take part and feel at one with the others gathered at the tables all across this planet.
I often wonder what the reasons are that draw foreigners to China, especially those that come to teach. Very rarely are they teachers. The young ones come for adventure and a job. The older ones, perhaps a job because of the poor economy at home. The oldest, perhaps are looking for a way to make retirement an adventure without draining the retirement fund. One thing all have in common, a willingness to leave their “homes” and their “community,” and to live an individual life. But, is this living of an individual life about the “hero’s task?”
” . . . the personal hero task, the task of becoming whomever the gods intended, not what the ego desires, benefits the culture ultimately through providing it with more differentiated values, more unique contributions to the collective.” (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 68)
Of course, I can’t be the arbiter and judge for each of those who came to my home, nor do I want to be the judge. All I can do is look to my self and ask my self the question of whether or not I am authentically engaged in my “personal hero task.” If I am truly “individuating,” that is, living my hero task as defined by C.G. Jung, Joseph Campbell, and by James Hollis; then, I am giving gifts to those around me through the values that I am growing into and living. These are my unintentional Christmas gifts to others.
Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noël, Féliz Navidad, Frohe Weihnachten, Shèngdàn Jié Kuàilè to all who read here and who find some value in the archetypes of Father, Mother and Child.