Archive for the ‘mexico’ tag
“Complexes interfere with the intentions of the will and disturb the conscious performance; they produce disturbances of memory and blockages in the flow of associations; they appear and disappear according to their own laws; they can temporarily obsess consciousness, or influence speech and action in an unconscious way. In a word, complexes behave like independent beings. [Jung, CW 8, par. 253]
So what has me thinking about complexes today? I guess the short answer is that for whatever reason, they found a way to make their presence felt here in a Mexican paradise. I catch myself having emotional reactions to the bits and pieces of life that normally don’t stir up any emotional response. I find myself feeling defensive without any cause. A simple dialogue that has no ulterior motive somehow becomes a very subtle assault on my identity, my worthiness as a person. Sometimes it doesn’t even need words; a glance can trigger the same result. And most confusing is the fact that these glances and scatterings of words are people specific. The same glance by a stranger would ruffle nothing. The same words uttered by a different person wouldn’t even register.
I have learned long ago that I am not unique in this regard. Pretty well everyone that is breathing and thinking is complexed. Being complexed isn’t all about negative affect, but since having overt positive emotional reactions feels good, there isn’t the same need to look more closely at the affect. As Daryl Sharp would say, “There’s no motivation to analyze it.” It is only when the emotional affect digs into your gut, makes you feel as if you are caught in a storm when we find the motivation to want to figure out “what the hell is going on.”
As I get older, I get wiser – at least that is what I tell myself. As I sense the presence of emotional affect that is negative, I pull back from participation as much as I can, in the drama around the activation of a complex. It hasn’t always been this way. It wasn’t so long ago that as soon as the complex would be activated I would throw my whole being in ranting and railing and battling. It was like a no-holds barred wrestling match that left myself and others around me shell shocked and battered when the energy of the complex stole away. I didn’t “really” understand that it was my complex and perhaps the complex of another wreaking disaster. For both of us, it was about you or I.
But sometimes now, enough times, I don’t bite and take the bait and so avoid escalation. Sensing the presence of the complex lurking, I back off and wait until the complex leaves. I know that it will be back, and perhaps next time I will again be able to resist falling into its vortex. And then, my rights itself and it’s not so topsy-turvy.
I have good again to the 2006 trip to Mexico to bring a new photo here. The trip to Cancun was a two-couple affair with the other couple choosing the location as it was to be their first such experience. They chose an “adults only” resort which meant that there was some nudity to be expected. I was quite surprised with this choice though I don’t think that they really understood what that exactly meant. Once there, they got to see little in the way of titillating scenes, nor did they engage in any “au naturel” experiences. As usual, in the privacy of my own accommodations, I was able to steal a few hours of sheltered freedom from clothing. The nudity that was present was definitely just topless young women who were proud to flash. Experiences such as this make up the bulk of most North Americans; experiences of nudity.
Two evenings past, I got to have a cup of tea with this couple who wanted to talk about last winter’s trip to Jamaica. While telling their stories, they mentioned that there was a scene where they got to see a poor Jamaican man taking a bath in the river. The wife remarked that his “willy” was big. She also talked of seeing a beggar asleep on the roadside with his “junk” hanging out. These stories were told with a disgusted tone.
Somehow or other, the conversation shifted as she then related an experience her son had while travelling in Ontario where they came upon a long beach where the family with two young children were intending to spend a few hours. However, seeing an older couple, likely in their seventies, they beat a hasty retreat to their car and continued their journey. When I asked why, the response was that it was gross for older people to go in the nude. You have to understand that this couple are basically the same age as I am, not young. I asked why and the response was all about “body” image. Only the young and beautiful should be allowed to go nude. There was no chance of having them see any other way of thinking.
I made only a few more attempts to talk about “natural” and about “positive self-concept.” In my opinion, there is a link between mental health and being able to accept ourselves for the way we are both mentally and physically. At the stage of life I now find myself, I begin to believe that taking time to be in our own skin, to experience the world “au naturel” is very therapeutic.
“Abraham Maslow, one of the founders of humanistic psychology in the 1960s, states: “I still think that nudism . . . is itself a kind of therapy.” (Joseph Sommer)
One bares one’s soul in the therapist’s or analyst’s office in order to heal the inner wounds. I begin to wonder if we also heal the soul with the baring of our bodies in nature, letting the sun, breezes and water wash over us.
I took this older photo from 2006 in order to continue the series about naturism. But before I go further, I want to be upfront and say that in this series of photos, judicious cropping has led to the illusion of my being fully in my own skin. It’s not true. I cropped the swim wear in each photo to give an illusion. Obviously in each photo I was not alone and someone else was taking the photographs with my camera. And because of the fact of the presence of another person, I find myself, like the vast majority of North Americans, uncomfortable in my own skin concerned about my less than perfect body. I wouldn’t think of going “au naturel.” And so, I ask myself “Why?”
Well, I have convinced myself that it is “selfish” of me to not care about the sensibilities of others. I have told myself that I would embarrass those closed to me in any given situation, embarrass strangers that would accidentally see me. Being seen unclothed in a public place, even at a beach in Mexico, Cuba or elsewhere would be an intrusion into the space of others, an assault on their own concepts of self and others. And as I continue to think about it, there appear many layers of “reasons” for my feeling uncomfortable in my own skin when others are present. I want to include a few words here that I found on another site while researching the psychological aspects of naturism:
“Progressively, over the centuries, society has developed the use of clothing as a mask. Clothing was originally used and designed to protect people from the elements of heat and cold, to stop themselves from getting burned or frozen. It was also used as a method of adornment to enhance attractiveness and for ritual and ceremonial reasons. In the latter centuries, people developed a cultural dependency on clothing. Clothes became a mask and a prop for perceived personality and character deficiencies.
“We frequently see people who would not be seen dead without their clothing on. Clothing is often used to portray an image that is different from the person’s perceived inner deficiencies. It is a form of artificiality or masking that they outwardly project to cover up any personality or emotional defects they think they have. People tend to feel that by hiding behind clothing they can metaphorically cover themselves and deny others exposure to the inner-self they perceive to be crippled. The need to do this most commonly occurs in people with low self-esteem.” (Naked Beneath Your Clothing)
Again, the masking of the self, the portraying of an image that would be more socially acceptable, one that would leave me safely protected from the collective. I know that I have a lot of scars and messy aspects and I desperately want to hide them so that others will like me. I hide my true self. But that hiding can only go on so long before one is forced to expose one’s true self. I have no issue with seeing others in their own skin, something which isn’t so rare in other countries such as India, and in IndoChina. Seeing others in their own skin in North America is also not an issue for me other than me berating myself for lacking the courage these others demonstrate in being comfortable in their own skin.
The journey of individuation forces one to become honest with one’s self, and in turn, that leads to a transparency that forces one to be honest with others. I am not really there yet though I yearn to be there, need to be there in order to feel whole, to feel a sense of real holiness. This blog space is one place where I feel a real sense of safety, especially in allowing my inner self to be more transparent. The journey continues.
A male Magnificent Cormorant sits on a mast of a small fishing boat called the Black Christ (Cristo Negro) in the harbour of Rio Lagartos, Yucatan, Mexico as evening gets ready to settle in. It’s a photo I took at the end of January of this year.
I struggled for quite some time today trying to find the words that I wanted to put here. A search through a number of volumes of Jung’s works didn’t yield anything that resonated. And so, I decided to simply speak as it “felt” for me. In the end, that is all any of us can ever do. the closest any of us can ever come to what might pass as the truth of who we are.
Black is about shadow, that much resonates loud and clear. However, all that is black isn’t evil. That is the hard part to get past sometimes. For the owner of this boat, obviously, the use of the word Christ is all about hope. So, why not have the two combine? This is where I jump from the scene of the photo to my personal realm of the underworld/inner-world.
Going through midlife, it is only when I dared to look at the edges of shadow country, staring into the fearsome blackness within that I finally began to sense hope, sense that I would emerge from that inner journey better than when I began that journey. The darkness and shadows yielded treasures about self, about personal strength and even validation of my “self.” Like the fisherman heading out into the ocean for the rich yields of the sea, I headed deep within the darkness, blind for the most part because of the darkness. I fought those sea monsters that assailed my sense of fear, my sense of inferiority and somehow, like the fisherman, found myself back in port, back in the outer world of consciousness. The journey had rewarded me with a bit more awareness of self and of the nature of the unconscious – a rich treasure. But more importantly, it renewed hope in something bigger than my ego. This is the promise of the Christ symbol.
There is hope if one does not fear the darkness so much that one flees from it. Rather, think of how San Juan de la Cruz (St. John of the Cross) embraced the dark night and found love, love that burned with its own light, a love that touched Christ. To embrace this, one must go under, one must sacrifice the “what is” for “what could be.” Or as I read in Jung’s works somewhere in words similar to these, “the good is the enemy of the better.”
I love the approach of evening when the light begins to paint everything with a touch of gold. In the bright sun of mid-day, so much looks taudry and flawed. Yet in the last part of the day, this disappears to be replaced by gold. It is as if life is transformed. The photo is a scene from Rio Lagartos in January, 2008.
If one can imagine it, what happens in nature is mirrored with that which happens within each of us. As we move past the middle of life into the late afternoon and early evening, a similar transformation occurs. It isn’t something that just happens overnight, it is something that is gradual, similar to the change processes that turns grapes into wine. It’s an alchemical change, transmutation from dross into gold. All it needs from us is to be present in the moments, even at this time of descent into the inner realms where one discovers that what before appeared to be flaws now becomes character, traces of ancient gods that dwell within as archetypes. Re-visioning and re-awekening to our “self” allows us to finally feel comfortable with ourselves in relation to whatever it is that is the guiding principle of everything,
I took this photo in April in the Yucatan. It was one of the hundreds of photos I took while working on the Swamplands book. It didn’t make the cut for the final product because of the competition it faced from the other photos as it became a matter of choosing about 12 photos from the collection which were taken for the purpose. All of them, and the book were my preparation for my first SoFoBoMo experience, an experience that I enjoyed enough to want to repeat the process next June and July.
While taking the photos on long walks alone through the swamplands, I found that I was never alone at all. Everywhere I walked though no people were to be found, I sensed the presence of one specific “other” constantly in my head, tucked quietly but firmly at the edges of awareness. I looked at the scenes and the images as though through two sets of eyes, mine and hers. In some outside perspective, it might even appear as though I was possessed by this sense of otherness within. For me, however, that presence was more about fullness. That other had no physical form; that other came from deep within the shadows, an ephemeral woman. Who was this woman? My anima.
This is more than just accepting the woman within for a man and the man within for a woman, this is about honouring the polarities, about holding the tension of opposites. This isn’t about losing oneself in other; it is about finding oneself in relation to the darkness and the crowded underworld of archetypes, the mob of characters in the throng of complexes. And yet, there is a parallel universe in the outer world where a real woman waited while I walked taking the photos.
Love requires depth and loyalty of feeling; without them it is not love but mere caprice. True love will always commit itself and engage in lasting ties; it needs freedom only to effect its choice, not for its accomplishment. Every true and deep love is a sacrifice. The lover sacrifices all other possibilities, or rather, the illusion that such possibilities exist. If this sacrifice is not made, his illusions prevent the growth of any deep and responsible feeling, so that the very possibility of experiencing real love is denied him. (Carl Jung, CW 10, paragraph 231)
As within, so without. In my opinion, one can never truly experience the depths of true love in the outer world if one can’t do the same in the inner worlds.
First, I want to begin by saying that this is my wife. We have been married 38 years. I have avoided bringing her into this blog for a host of reasons, the primary one being her privacy. That said, it is only natural that I include her in today’s post about love. One of our frequent discussions revolves around trying to define what love is. Of course, such a discussion is usually disappointing in terms of finding a common definition. I don’t think that a definition can ever be achieved when looking at it from two separate poles, that of the masculine and the feminine. The best I can do, is speak from my core, from my level of consciousness and the intuitions that arise.
First, the basic premise that opposites attract hold. Magnetism proves this in nature. This is vital for survival of all species. Male attracts female; female attracts male. This instinctual attraction leads to renewal of the species. But, this isn’t enough to approach the idea of love. There is so much more. So many women, so many men; if this was all there was to it, a man could fall in love with all women or a woman could fall in love with all men simply because they were the opposite gender.
No, the opposite has to be much more significant. When we look at personality, even here opposites attract. The more they are opposite, the more the fire, the energy, the clash. One is extrovert and the other is introvert. One trusts intuitively, the other trusts based on what the senses reveal. One processes based on feeling tones, the other cognitively. Now, how can two people who are so totally different, ever possibly arrive at a common definition of something that defies definition even when two other people are paired with the same personality?
Here are Jung’s words on the topic that might be of help. But in saying that, one has to be of a mind to hear and understand the world, humanity and the human psyche from a Jungian point of view. Complicated, isn’t it?
Love has more than one thing in common with religious faith. It demands unconditional trust and expects absolute surrender. Just as nobody but the believer who surrenders himself wholly to God can partake of divine grace, so love reveals its highest mysteries and its wonder only to those who are capable of unqualified devotion and loyalty of feeling. And because this is so difficult, few mortals can boast of such an achievement. But, precisely because of the truest and most devoted love is also the most beautiful, let no man seek to make it easy. He is a sorry knight who shrinks from the difficulty of loving his lady. Love is like God: both give themselves only to the bravest knights. (Carl Jung, CW X, paragraph 232)
Curious thing for me, numbers. I have posted 230 times since I began this site on November 27, 2008. So far I have received just over 5800 visits to the site, about 25 per post or 22 per day. On average, there have been about two comments per post over the whole period. Of course, trying to find even one post that falls within this set of stats would likely find no such individual posts. So why does one even bother with statistics since they point to something that is anything other than objective reality? I know why I look to the numbers. I don’t expect them to point to a particular thing. All I expect to see is a generalized canvas, I get to see the forest rather than the trees as I look at the global picture.
So what does this global picture tell me? Well, first, it tells me that I am not writing words that disappear into the ether unread. Somewhere in the numinous space of cyberwaves, others have paused to glimpse, if only briefly at the words and the images. I learn that a few have spent more than just a passing moment with my images and thoughts. A smaller group have spent enough time to offer comment or to ask questions. In some amazing way, connections have been established and a curious set of relationships have taken shape, cyber relationship.
All of this serves to cause me to rethink some of my words and thoughts. In a way, this is like walking into a hall of mirrors in which “others” serve to resonate/reflect/mediate the words that have found their way to this space. In the end, I become hopefully, more conscious of my “self.”
This photo was taken in March, 2009 in Yucatan, Mexico at the Mayan site called Dzibilchaltun. It is a photo of a sundial. I went in search through my photo archives for this image as I wanted a symbol of Phallos that I had taken rather than to borrow one from the Internet. It is obvious to anyone who thinks in symbolic terms, that the spire at the centre, pointing to the sun is a representation of Phallos.
In Jungian terms, in alchemical terms, the sun is the father. The womb is the earth which is mother. When phallos is erect, there is energy (libido) which is essential for the act of creation. Creation is a co-creative act, a holy marriage of masculine and feminine.
It’s a touchy subject, that of the masculine, especially in this age of politically correct thinking and speaking. The human race has shifted from matriarchal to patriarchal dominance and is currently shifting again. Patriarchal forms still dominate, but in so many ways, those forms are being emasculated. Men are losing their bearings in a world that is increasingly seeing them as throw-backs to ancient-times thinking. Rites of passage have almost fully disappeared for boys becoming men. Monick captures the essence of the problem:
The problem is that patriarchal attitudes and values are no longer obviously true. Unless masculinity is differentiated from patriarchy, both will go down the tubes. (Eugene Monick, Phallos: Sacred Image of the Masculine, 1987, p. 9)
So, what do you think?
I have to admit that this photo is an old one, one that I took at the end of March this year while in Mexico. More often than not, the plain-looking birds get overlooked in favour of those which are more colourful and more “in one’s face.” The quiet plain-looking birds that sit on the sidelines, almost hidden are dismissed as though they don’t even exist. When pointed out, a quick glance soon turns to disinterest.
People are like that as well. I am like that, more inclined to sit on the sidelines away from the brouhaha that surrounds others. Every once in a while my presence on the sidelines catches someone by surprise as if to say, “Where did he come from?” This is by choice as it is about control – or so I thought. One of the disadvantages is that it not about being “present” in life, but being a passive observer of life. Now entering my seventh decade, I am “working” on being present. Of course, a few knocks on the head during the last decade have helped me gain some insight and perspective with regards to being “present” rather than being in the past or some alternate universe. Hear what James Hollis has to say about the topic:
Though we are historic creatures, that is, creatures of what fate and flawed choices have provided, much of what we do is on automatic pilot, genetically, cognitively, reflexively programmed. We need a rap on the head from time to time to bring us into the present, to be here, not en route from somewhere to somewhere. (Hollis, Celebrating a Life, 2001 p. 82)