Archive for March 9th, 2012
I took this photo from my archives, a photo I took in September of 2006 not long after my first teaching term in China had just gotten underway. I was walking down a street that was “traditional old China” as far as my eyes could tell as the buildings were old and so many had already been demolished as there was a concerted effort to clean up the old in order to bring in the new, tall modern apartment buildings that would hold many more people. The reason I bring this photo here today has to do with my journeys today on both bus and rapid transit train.
It began as I headed into the core of Calgary where I was to have today’s session with my analyst. As I sat down on my seat, I saw a young father and his three year old daughter sit across from me. In my usual “grandfatherly” manner, I smiled at the little girl and she smiled back. For the duration of the trip into the city, she continued to look at me, trying various facial expressions as a way to try and keep me looking at her, acknowledging her presence. A few seats further down the bench, a woman in her forties also gave me a number of glances which I acknowledged – again, an “I see you and acknowledge you” kind of non-verbal communication. Later, on my way back home, a young mother and her child sat in front of me on the bus for the last leg of my return trip. The child saw me, smiled, then hid in her mother’s arms. Just two bus stops later, this young family got up to leave the bus. As she was leaving, the little girl being held in her mother’s arms continued to wave good-bye to me which of course had me waving in return.
This isn’t much of a story, but it is interesting to me as I am learning to shift how I see myself in terms of how others see me, to a more authentic understanding of my self. Like every other human, I had to learn that I even existed as something separate from my mother. Like everyone else, that awful knowledge sent me scrambling to find a way back, back into the original state where I was at one with the universe, not separate from mother or father or the universe. And like everyone else, I took that frantic need for connection into the world where I then projected my unconscious need for re-union onto those who somehow twigged the possibility of relationship.
Now that I am older and have slowed down enough to actually start to see what I have been doing unconsciously, I am given the opportunity and choice of releasing my projections and allowing the reality of the others in my life to emerge as separate beings. And that in turn, allows me to learn more about myself.
“If we are to understand ourselves and our time, we are obliged to adopt this essentially psychological view of the world. This is not to speak for any specific theory or behavioral treatment, but rather the need to internalize our responsibility, to see the silent origin of choice within, before we can move through the outer world with understanding, effectiveness and perhaps compassion for self and others.” (Hollis, Tracking the Gods, p. 51)
Hollis talks about “silent choices,” choices which I understand to be more binding that “voiced choices” for we are more apt to be honest in our silence. For myself, I am learning to be self responsible in terms of self regard and self knowledge. The more I learn about myself, the less I then project of those unknown parts of myself.
But, as I said earlier, this is my task in this last half of my life. For young people such as I met on my journey today, the responsibility is different, that of exploring the world and using a child’s resources to label the discoveries of the day as either positive (gives some measure of pleasure and happiness) or negative (eliciting a fear response). For a child needs to use the outer world as a mirror in order to place self in context with the larger world, and perhaps more importantly as a means of determining the worth and nature of self. Curious in more ways than one.