Archive for the ‘dissociation’ tag
This little guy is getting to be a regular visitor to our yard. We have not had this bird variety in our yard during the nine years we have lived here. It’s a good thing I keep a handbook on birds close at hand. I was particularly taken by the common name for this bird, a Brown Thrasher. It makes me think of how the mind finds itself “thrashing” about at various points during life.
It seems that whenever I find myself with choices that are poles apart, I end up squirming and thrashing around for a good time while holding the tension of “not choosing” so that I can allow other possibilities to emerge. It never fails, other options do emerge, ones that are not found at either pole. I will give a somewhat simple example of how this works for me.
I found myself seemingly caught between a black and white set of choices such as when in my work a school administrator, I had the choice of giving up administration to remain in the same school to continue teaching, or to seek another school administrator position in another school, or retire. I struggled with these choices for quite a while, for months when I realised that I needed to do something different if I was to get a different result in my life. As the weeks, then months passed, I was tending towards retirement though I was still rather young. I didn’t want to move again as this community had become home for both my wife and myself.
While reading through a newspaper, my wife saw ads seeking education administrators on northern reserves. Life on a reserve for an outsider is temporary. Without status as a First Nations, status within the tribe, one is always “just visiting.” If I took a northern position I would keep my home outside of the reserve. It seemed I could keep all of the choices at the same time – I retired, I got a new job, and I kept my home. When all of the pieces came together I finally made the decision to retire and prepare for the next stage.
We all face small situations (and not so small) which could use a bit of wait time before we make a choice. Of course there are many decisions we need to make that must be immediate and leave us living with the choice made. When we fail to make a decision, a decision will be made for us making our discomfort and thrashing around pointless, leaving us feeling like a victim without being aware that we placed ourselves in the role of victim. There is a difference between holding the tension and not deciding for ourselves. Holding the tension is to invest time and energy and to stay present with the choices and the situation requiring a choice. Removing oneself from choice is an act of abandoning, even denying the need to do something, dissociating.
I have returned to Canada with the first stop at my son’s home where I became reacquainted with my youngest grandchild, a boy who is a year and a half old. When I left Canada ten months ago, we left as friends. Now, I am a stranger, an older male somehow in his home. The tear of his face is a tear of fear, a fear of the unknown stranger. And the first reaction to that fear is to take comfort in the mother or the father. After a few hours of quiet presence, we have become friends again and that is good. Unfortunately, however, the little guy has a cough and cold so the fun was muted from time to time.
While travelling, taking photos, writing and doings some teaching, sometimes it is easy to forget the connections that tie us back to a particular place and time. The journey of individuation is one that requires us to constantly remember that we are also part of a whole and not totally separate beings. The idea is differentiation, not dissociation. And this is a lesson I constantly relearn from my children and grandchildren
I took this photo four days ago. Yes, that is snow! The scene was at a rest stop near the Alberta – Saskatchewan border. As we continued driving west, the snow became thicker until we found ourselves in a full winter blizzard. The temperature was hovering near zero Celsius, so we knew that the snow wouldn’t last long on the ground. Two days later, it was as if the storm had never happened.
Storms have always interested me. More often than not, they give me a sense of comfort when I am in the house, safe. When I am outside, it becomes more of a contest in which I am pitted against the storm. I like to push the boundaries of safety so that I feel the adrenaline rush. But, I only do so with a careful eye to rescuing myself if I wander too deeply into the storm. There is a difference between taking conscious risks and entering the storm oblivious of the danger.
Why do I enjoy these storms? Well, I guess the most obvious reason is that I am left feeling very alive. The storms pull me out of my head, pull into the world where I can feel and connect with that world. When storms arrive and my first reaction is positive, I know that I have been too withdrawn and dissociated. The outer storms challenge me to look inwards and uncover the blockages that get in the way of connection. Storms in dreams do much the same.
I can also tell the difference in my inner state when a storm in the outer world doesn’t make me feel more alive. Storms generally become more of an obstacle that seems to want to force me to slow down in the outer world, force me to acknowledge the inner world. I can tell the difference through my responses.
Looking back at the photo, I noticed that the tree is showing blossoms, the promise of fruit. Would the storm kill these promises and force the tree to wait for another year before producing fruit? More often that not, this is the case if the blossoms freeze. The lost potential fruit is not a permanent response, it is simply a fact delayed. And like the fruit tree, I must accept setbacks knowing that new awareness will come. For now, I am not ready to become more conscious of self. The container must be ready to hold the fruit.