Archive for the ‘loss’ tag
While in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam, I happened to go walking down a narrow trail passed a number of small country homes and tiny fields. The scene was distant from any city and a few kilometres from a small town. As I wandered down the trail I met a few people such as these two women who were busy with the collection of banana leaves which were to be used as food wrap as well as serving platters for meals that were predominantly based on rice which was being grown not too far from this site. The young woman seemed pleased to see me here in the Mekong jungle and even more pleased that I wanted to take her photo. In my imagination, I could almost see her reaching out with her eyes as though to wish me to her, to be a magical other – of course, only in my imagination. The real smile she gave has nothing to do with the magical other. I wonder at how Asians view the idea of a “Magical Other.”
The fantasy of the magical other finds its roots in archetype, the archetype of the parent, a Primal Other. Here are a few words from James Hollis to illustrate this idea:
“Our first experience of ourselves is in relationship to these Primal Others, usually mother or father. Consciousness itself arises out of that splitting of the primal participation mystique which characterizes the infant’s sensibility. The paradigms for self, for Other, and the transactions between, are formed from these earliest experiences. They are hard-wired into our neurological and emotional networks.” (Hollis, The Eden Project, p. 37)
Somehow, this seems to be something very important in trying to understand the idea of Magical Other, a soulmate, or love at first sight. Perhaps it is at this moment one is wired to being attracted to one gender or another. One searches for the safe container in which to find the courage to be self. Many, if not most “marriages” are born of the attraction to the Magical Other.
The stranger with whom one falls in love has power and a numinosity that is in reality too much for a human person to contain. As time passes and the bumps and bruises of relationship teach us the mortal nature of this human, we feel loss and sadness. The grieving over the loss of the Magical Other takes one through anger and the other stages of grief until we come to accept the real person with whom we have coupled, that is if one persists long enough to go through the stages. Many cannot get passed the anger and turn away from this stranger who has betrayed us, lied to us. Too late we come to realise that it is we who have lied to ourselves.
For those that survive the grieving, there is a comfort and a discomfort with what remains. We are comforted that the other, not so magical anymore, has taken on our need for sanctuary and willingly works at meeting the needs for love, security, acceptance. Each becomes lover, friend, child and parent to the other. Listen to the words and you will perhaps hear from those long married, the words Ma, Pa, Mother, Father, Mom, Dad – I hear myself addressed with different tones and different words, including Papa. Again, James Hollis has words for us:
“Such phenomena suggest that the original attraction to the partner was in great part guided by the parental imago. That unconscious image is projected onto potential partners until someone comes along who can catch it and hold it.” (ibid)
I wonder if this parental imago is not simply the replacement of one’s biological parent, but potentially the missing parent whether that absent mother or father was physically absent or emotionally absent? I must remember that is more than the personal parent, but the archetypal parent that is being sought in the Magical Other.
I’m back again after a break of a few days. Life in fast lane of retirement sometimes gets too fast and too full for spending more time here. That said, the second book is basically done for the SoFoBoMo project. I will likely upload the book either later today or tomorrow after finishing the proofreading for typos. The upload version will be smaller in size than the first book simply because I have learned to save the pdf in a minimum size format through MS Word.
That said, the book is not finished. I am going through the process having others doing detailed “readings” so that the book can be ready for publication in a print format as a formal book. This suggest that I will also be revisiting the first book for the same purpose. It is good to know that this process begun as a SoFoBoMo challenge has rekindled the urge to write. It has been a long time coming, but the it has been worth the wait. I think that I am better able to actually write something worth reading at this point in my life. Now, on with the tale.
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The holy grail
The treasure of the hero’s journey, is awareness of self. Not only awareness of self, but of one’s relation to the greater whole, God/Self. One knows that consciousness of self is also about awareness of one’s relationship to the cast of characters, the archetypes that are part of both the personal and collective unconsciousness. One knows the power of the archetypes and how easily it is to be consumed by the archetype. These archetypes are the guardians of the collective unconscious of humankind. To win self-awareness is a monumental task, a heroic task considering the need to confront and pass these guardians. As Joseph Campbell describes it:
On the other hand, if the trophy has been attained against the opposition of its guardian, or if the hero’s wish to return to the world has been resented by the gods or demons, then the last stage of the mythological round becomes a lively, often comical, pursuit. This flight may be complicated by marvels of magical obstruction and evasion. (Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, p. 197.)
On the return to world as a transformed person, in many ways as a reborn person similar to a phoenix rising out of the ashes, the self is met by all kinds of setbacks as though the complexes and archetypes are attempting to keep their power which had become dominant even in the outer world.
The tests and challenges continue. Old habits are hard to lose, especially those which have evolved in context with other people and other activities. It is not enough to just change and be aware of the change. One must also be ready for the known world to have remained the same and to have that world not recognize any change because of blindness caused by its own state of being unaware of self and others.
Returning often involves significant losses. Perhaps, these are the biggest challenges yet to be faced. Will one regress out of depression and defeat because of the losses, especially the loss of a significant other or the loss of identity in the community.
Continuing on with my earlier post, I have to admit that there are still tan lines. I didn’t dare as much as I could have in order to cook completely in this alchemical stew. The fire of the sun was hidden from aspects of my psyche, stuff that I still bury deep within. Without the sun’s transformational heat which draws out the pale ghosts, I am left incomplete. Parts of my self are not yet turned into gold, an act of transubstatiation. I cling to the raw unfinished material as though to a life raft.
Why do I not yet dare to stand fully exposed to the transformational fires? Fear. Fear that what I have will be lost, fear that relationship with self and other will be forever changed. Is this bad? Not really, but it is about loss, and I don’t know if I am ready to lose the old in order to embrace the new. Change and loss.
Yet, out of the ashes of the burning a new way of being will emerge, new ways of relation will emerge. I worry that perhaps this alchemical process will reduce my self so much that there remains only ash. I worry that I will only be left with loss and be alone, removed from sanity, self and other. Yet, I know this isn’t true at the deepest level of my being. Will I be the coward and step off this path of individuation and say “enough is enough” returning to the patterns of habit and relationship that have been the fruit of all efforts so far in this journey? Can I stop even if I want to? Or, have the losses and gains already taken place and are only waiting to be acted out in the outer world? As Rainer Marie Rilke once said in his “Letters To A Young Poet”:
Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.