Archive for the ‘digital camera’ tag
Now this is a big bird, a Chachalaca. There is a small group of these which appear near my patio in the afternoon. They are so big, I wonder how they manage to stay on the thin branches of the tree. They make me think of partridges and grouse, good tasting game birds in Canada. I wonder if they are on the menu for Mayans?
I am getting a bit more time for Internet today as the weather has turned cooler with thick cloud cover due to a weather system that is coming from the north over the Gulf of Mexico, a system called el norte. This is a good thing as it gives my poor skin time to rest from constant exposure to intense sunlight as well as time to explore the town nearby. We have been here ten days and already I am a significant dark shade of bronze. The weather system began yesterday afternoon which resulted in my actually taking the time to begin some frivolous reading rather than continuing to focus on psychology, Buddhism and naturism topics.
With that said, it’s time to sit back, surf the ‘Net for a while, enjoy another cup of coffee and do as much of nothing as I can get away with for now. This afternoon, the beach walk is being scrapped for a longer walk down a broken road into the village proper in search of some interesting photos, sand fly ointment, and another bottle of wine.
Yes, this is the temperature as I am writing this blog post. The sun has come out and it has warmed up from the -25 C that was the norm for the past few days. A look at the long term forecast tells me that we can expect more of this more moderate winter conditions until our departure for Latin America.
Preparing for a change of climate and change of culture is time consuming as well as being filled with some anxiety. Having booked our accommodations on-line in places we have never before visited, we are left with more unknowns than known conditions. Will the various apartments and cottages meet our basic expectations? Will we have good access to local stores so that we can live as if we are at home, cooking our own meals? Will there be enough local diversions to stave off boredom that would come from too much sitting around? Have we packed enough stuff to meet our needs? Have we packed too much stuff that will just weigh us down as we travel from one locale to another? Will I be able to navigate the country of Belize satisfactorily while we are weighed down with our backpacks? Will my knowledge of Spanish be sufficient for interacting with local people? Will there be good enough access to Internet to allow me to connect with you here? Questions, questions, questions.
Of course, I have done my homework in hopes of making this journey of three months a fairly stress-free journey. At the time, the most anxiety comes from a different question, “Will my camera arrive back in Canada before we leave?” While visiting my grandchildren in America, I left my camera in their home when we left to return to our home. The camera has been packaged up and sent to us by one of the major carriers. It is supposed to be here by January 4th, a good thing since we leave our home on January 7th. But of course, the gods and goddesses have to be willing to allow the camera to get here without incident. If fate decided differently, I at least have another camera I can use, the one I used to take today’s photo. It isn’t a DSLR, but it is a decent camera for a point-and-shoot model.
I have been busy with writing, another project that is focused on Alchemy. I do see the project becoming something significant for me, perhaps leading to an e-book at some point.
As the image lets you know, it is very wintry here on the Canadian prairies. The weather shifts from quite cold to near freezing temperatures making for some interesting scenes in my yard. I am hoping that we avoid the deep freeze of a sustained very cold spell for which the prairies are famous, before we fly off to spend three months in Latin America.
With that said, I am heading back to my writing and my daily time for studying Spanish.
As I take photos with my camera, more often than not I am trying to capture more than the scene that presents itself in front of the lens. I want more than a simple, factual recording of place or event. This is a task that finds me taking more photos than are necessary, taking photos that will either be deleted or else lost in the archives. I almost feel sorry for any one who would try to sort through the tens of thousands of photos in hopes of trying to figure out what I was hoping to accomplish with the photos.
Most of the photos are decent, some even beautiful. However, not many succeed in accomplishing what I want to accomplish, to capture the face of God, to show the world that there is a God in the soil, the trees, the rocks, the sky, the faces of people I meet along the way and in the creations of humans. I don’t believe in a “God” in the sense of a being of some sort who sits watching humans and evaluates them in order to decide who goes to heaven or hell. God isn’t a he or a she; God isn’t outside of life but is the fullness of life as I understand it. Gods and goddesses are minor characters that take some kind of form so as to allow us as humans to possibly hold onto a bit of the essence and meaning of God.
“Whatever the gods are, they are inevitably experienced intrapsychically, as all our experiences occur, whether they derive from outer or inner causation.” (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 138)
Perhaps this is what I am trying to say, that God is experienced, and can only be experienced, within the psyche. Yet saying that, I know that God is not only within, but also without as I can only envision a God that encompasses all that is, all that has been, and all that will be. Of course this means that everything I see as well as my experience of seeing these things – the things and the experience – are all aspects of God. This is what I try to capture with the camera lens, try to capture in an image.
“. . . image is meant to point beyond itself toward the ineffable. The symbol points toward the godly, but it is not the god.” (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 139)
Yes, this is what I am trying to do, use my photos to point toward that presence of God, capture an image that is alive with, pregnant with a deeper and fuller image. I am searching for images that act as metaphors for the spirit and soul, the psyche’s proof of whatever it is that is God.
“Psychology no more knows what the psyche is than the theologian knows what God is. Anyone who thinks otherwise, and proclaims otherwise, is deluded, inflated, or psychotic. “God” is a metaphor for what wholly transcends our capacity to comprehend, expressed through primal forces which we nonetheless experience. The word psyche is a metaphor for what wholly transcends our capacity to comprehend, forces at work within each of us.” (ibid)
This student really did choose to have his English name as “Star.” He was one of my Journalism students last year. He was the a student who smiled a lot and didn’t work too hard. As is my usual practice when teaching at the university, I used the break time between class hours to chat with my students and learn more about them. Star had described himself as having a simple dream for the future, unlike most of his peers. There was no talk of being a businessman or journalist, no talk of setting up his own business. For him it was simple. He just intended on being rich and enjoying a happy life with his family. Of course his parents would live with him forever in this future, and perhaps his grandparents as well.
There is a cultural dynamic at work here, that of a son taking care of his parents and having his parents care for his future child with all living in the same home. This is considered the “norm” in China, in modern China where there is a one-child family policy. Star, like almost all of his classmates, has been the focus, the centre of the world for his four grandparents and his parents. The protection and coddling of children, especially boy children, makes it almost impossible for a boy to “move out and away from his family” in China.
The grandparents and parents see their future well-being and security all wrapped up in the one child. That one child, must be protected at all costs, must be given every advantage that money can buy. And that money, is saved as parents and grandparents funnel every cent (jiao/mao), every dollar (yuan/kuai) into the child’s education which includes more than is to be found in the school. The child rarely learns the meaning of the word, “No.” The last thing the parents and grandparents want is for the child to grow up wanting to escape the family, angry at the family. And, as a result, China is suffering a generation of children, adolescents who behave as if they are little emperors and empresses. Like Star, there is no sense of reality, no sense of boundaries, there is no chance for becoming psychologically mature as men.
I was in a local business talking with a friend of the past six years, a Chinese woman who had married a foreigner and has since divorced him on the grounds of adultery on his part. I asked her why she wasn’t going to get married again and she told me her reasons. She told me that Chinese men were spoiled. They married as required by his parents, provided the grandchild they needed and saw that as the end of his “duty” as far as being married was concerned.
Life is now all about playing while the grandparents raise the child. Now is the time to indulge his every whim; girlfriends and mistresses, parties with his buddies at the newest International Men’s Clubs or KTV, expensive luncheons where the food is basically ignored while the guys constantly toast each other until they are pleasantly drunk. Life, for these men, is all about play, about living their fantasies.
Of course not all of the young Chinese men are like this, but many are, too many. Young Chinese men like Star, will remain stuck in the world of adolescence until reality bursts and takes down the all the walls separating these men from protection of their parents and grandparents.
Today’s photo is courtesy of my brother who is in Canada while I am in China. In the photo taken not too many days ago, our mother is getting married to a man she has lived with for thirty-three years. For some reason, after both had received divorces from their original marriage partners, they have resisted getting officially married. Now that our mother is in the hospital undergoing dialysis every second day, they have changed their mind and have made the decision to make their “real” marriage official in the eyes of the world. There was no pressure upon either of them as we have long ago accepted that this man was indeed our mother’s true mate, something we were never able to state about our father when he was husband to our mother.
Of course, this post isn’t really about my mother and my stepfather, but about the marriage between the masculine and feminine within one’s own psyche. The idea of wholeness, the achievement of a balance is the result of that holy marriage. As I think of the outer world dance of relationship of my mother and my stepfather, I am given a symbolic representation of the heroic journey each of us must endure as we make our journeys through life. The symbolism for me is that if one holds the tension long enough, if one continues the journey in spite of what often seems life defeat, one may earn the reward of balance.
Giving up on the journey will only ensure that balance does not emerge. The heroic journey is a life-long journey, one in which one doesn’t quit the journey because the going gets tough.
I am bringing another photo taken at XiTang in ZheJiang province here in China. I like this photo simply because of the colours and the composition. It is enough that it pleases with no questions asked. Sometimes that is all we need to do, just accept without question. In trying to question acceptance, one risks loosing that which was found, a numinous aspect that seems to defy objective thinking processes.
Being in the presence of the numinous is its own gift. Being in the presence is also being in relationship with the numinous. One must accept the moment as it is as it will end, end in separation. The moment fades into someplace else, some other time, another relationship. For now, just be in the now.
In the background you can see the full extent of the prairie village in which I live when “home” in Canada. In the foreground, the solitary figure and shadow of Michael, my brother-in-law, is seen heading back to this little village. The scene looks east into the morning sun which accounts for the darker aspects. Something to think about here. I am seeing shadows while looking towards the sun, sun shadows.
Opposites – Michael has me thinking about opposites, and in particular, consciousness and the unconscious. Michael has his moments when he is lucid to a certain degree. For the most part, he appears to be relatively conscious. It is only when one tries to engage him in conversation or activity when one discovers that consciousness is fading. Seeing his struggles, I get a better appreciation of my own relative “wholeness.”
“Without the experience of the opposites there is no experience of wholeness . . .” (Jung, CW 12, par 24)
Of course, I must admit that “I” experience the opposites as well. For the most part, my experience of the unconscious is through dreams. At other times, I bump into the unconscious through play and active imagination. And of course, I become aware of the presence of the unconscious “after the fact” when there is fallout from my speech and/or my actions while “under the influence” of the unconscious via archetypal presence.
When considering the opposites of darkness and light, I am immediately inclined to see darkness as “evil” and light as “good.” I fear the unknown, especially that unknown which foments conflict within me and conflict between myself and others. Since the unknown is hidden in darkness, I project that darkness outside of myself rather than admit that it simply more of my “self” which has yet to be made aware to my “ego” self. So where does this “belief” of darkness and light representing good and evil come from for me? Jung has an answer that seems to make sense,
“Christianity has made the antinomy of good and evil into a world problem . . .” (Jung, CW 12, par 25)
The threats of hell, of punishments – these were gifts given to me while being trained as a Catholic youth in catechism classes, ideas validated by parents and grandparents and teachers in the Catholic schools I attended. The light is good, and the light is God and Jesus. The dark is bad, and the dark is Satan. A was taught to beware of Satan who would do anything, to sin, in order to turn me into a bad person. And, if I did sin it was enough to “repent” during confession and God would take me back and give me another chance to earn a place in eternal light, in heaven.
Now? Well, I have come to see that the bad and dark stuff that I fear in the outer world is also within me. I have also realised that the good and the light stuff is also within me. And in realising this, I have come to some balance, a place of less fear of the darkness, and of less fear of the light.
I was walking along the sidewalk holding the hand of my four year old great-niece’s hand when I saw this seed pod that had landed in a puddle. We studied the seed and its wings for quite a while after I had taken its photo. Finally, with her curiosity satisfied, we continued walking in order to find our way “home.” I love seeing the universe along side small children who are fully absorbed in all of the small wonders that adults miss.
The floating feeling is one that I enjoy, feeling myself suspended between earth and sky. There is only a small problem for me, the fact that floating in water isn’t easy. Whenever I try floating, my feet drift downwards as though to pull me into the depths. To stay afloat I must gently move hands and feet. Regardless of the difficulty with floating, I enjoy the water, especially the sea. Rather than float on my back, I prefer looking down into the depths while wearing my snorkel and mask. I enjoy being in between two worlds.
Strange when I think about it, I have a fear of heights and a fear of depths. Both fears are about falling. When I feel “safe” such as in a plane, the heights have no fear factor. Being in the depths of a cavern heading even further down offers me no fear factor as well. The fear only surfaces when I sense a lack of control, being left at the mercy of others or fickle nature.
And in listening to Jung, I remember hearing “Where the fear, there is your task.” I need to listen more to CG Jung: ”Anyone who is afraid has reason to be.” What is it about the fear of falling from heights, falling into the depths that abides within me? Am I fearful simply because of personal environmental history or is there some psychological factors at work here?
“As a psychotherapist I do not by any means try to deliver my patients from fear. Rather, I lead them to the reason for their fear, and then it becomes clear that this is justified.”
There is a reason for my fear and I sense that it is more than simple childhood traumatic incidents, that it is more about the larger domaine of the unconscious where I find myself staring down into unfathomable depths. Rather, I would prefer to float between the heights and the depths, suspended. This isn’t an invented fear within me, this is primal.
“I can say this because I am a religious man and because I know with scientific certainty that my patient hasn’t invented his fear but that it is preordained. By whom or what? By the unknown. The religious man calls this absconditum “God,” the scientific intellect calls it the unconscious.”
The depths, the darkness, the unconscious – this is my fear. I dare not deny the fear, nor avoid facing this fear. I need to approach the fear, the unconscious though I quake in fear of that unknown. For it is only in approaching this darkness, this depth that I can find a bit more light to carry forward through my days and nights. And as I do this work, I find it a bit easier in trying to climb gentle hills and swim in deeper waters.
PS – Just a small note to say that most of these words of Jung’s cited here come from a letter Jung wrote to Fritz Buri in 1945.
“At the hour of dawn, before the sun’s rising from beyond the horizon, I sat in the middle of a field communing with Nature. At that hour filled with purity and beauty I lay on the grass, what time men were yet wrapped in slumber, disturbed now by dreams, now by awakening. I lay there seeking to know from all that I looked upon the truth of Beauty and the beauty of Truth.” (Gibran, “Lament of the Field,” A Tear And A Smile, p.66)
Before putting Gibran’s book aside, I decided to read a bit more.
“And when my reflecting had set me apart from the flesh, and my imaginings lifted the covering of matter from off my inner self, I felt my spirit growing, drawing me near to Nature and revealing to me her hidden things and teaching me the language of her wonders.” (ibid)
As you may well guess, I took a significant pause after writing these words of Gibran’s before daring to add my thoughts to this post. All that comes up for me is to finally be still with the moment and let the image and the words do their work of talking to my soul, and like Gibran, “set myself apart” in order to allow the spirit to grow.