Archive for the ‘outer world’ tag
The end of autumn in the north often comes in through protest with winds howling and the water protesting the cold that wishes to submit the world into one of frozen silence. Though the temperatures drop below freezing, the wind and water work together to keep at bay the beginnings of ice crystals forming a shroud over the northlands. But, only for so long. This railing against the dark night is for nought, winter will come.
It is interesting how people fight against being shut into themselves. For someone such as myself who finds silence, the lack of crowds and stillness somehow refreshing and energizing, this fight is as present as for those who are more extrovert. Quietness isn’t about being at home in an inner world, it is more about one’s manner of presence and participation in the outer world. The inner world is not a place to become at home. The inner world is a dangerous place filled with all the shadows, ghosts, monsters, gods and demons; its a world also filled with all that we can ever know of perfection, a place so perfect it hurts. And intuitively we fight against the descent, storm against being consumed and changed. Ultimately, we know that we can’t emerge being the same person, something will be lost.
One of many photos I took recently featuring geese which are gathering for the annual migration south. Of course, I like to put them into context. For example, here the birds are resting on a field to the north of our small town with the grain elevator, water tower and the edges of town visible. This is where I live when I am not travelling.
A recent visitor to these pages used the name AnamChara when posting a comment. The name reminded of a book sitting on my shelves having the same name, Anam ?ara, by John O’Donohue. As with many of my books that I value, this one is marked in many places with notes and with highlighted passages, a habit left over from my repeated return to university for yet another course or two. In thumbing through the book I cam upon this passage almost immediately:
If we become addicted to the external, our interiority will haunt us. We will become hungry with a hunger no image, person, or deed can still. To be wholesome, we must remain true to our vulnerable complexity. In order to keep our balance, we need to hold the interior and exterior, visible and invisible, known and unknown, temporal and eternal, ancient and new, together. No one else can undertake this task for you. (O’Donohue, Anam ?ara, 1997, p. xvi)
This resonates with the way I see and understand my place in this world. I crave balance, especially when I seem to be tilting to either pole of too much internal or too much external focus. This shows itself in blogging as well. I maintain two blog sites at present, one for honouring the inner world, and one for honouring the outer world. By bouncing between the two worlds and the two blogs, I catch glimpses at the edges that gradually allow me to become better aware of both inner and outer worlds. And, in the process, the individuation process continues as it should.
You can tell that winter is coming. Geese, tens of thousands of them flying in huge flocks, take time out for feeding as they being the migration southward. Most of these are Snow Geese with only a handful for Canada Geese thrown in for good measure. The temperatures have dropped significantly. Two weeks ago we enjoyed +30C weather. Now, we have strong northerly winds make our daytime high of -5C feel so much colder. Over the next several posts, I will post more photos that symbolize seasonal change in Canada.
Seasonal change, from summer to winter suggests a shift from working outdoors to working indoors. Similarly, from a Jungian psychology perspective, we can see that midlife itself becomes the time where one shifts from an exclusive outer world focus to soul work, or inner work. That said, it doesn’t mean that one abandons the outer world and active presence in the outer world. Rather, it means that one needs to honour the inner world which has been kept at bay by the needs of establishing a solid foundation in the outer world, something that is necessary in order to have the luxury of time needed for self-reflection and trying to find a few answers about self and meaning for one’s life, especially now that one begins to realise that death approaches.
With the realisation that one is mortal, does one flee into the clutches of some theology and thus turn over responsibility to others; or, does one confront one’s self to weigh the worth of one’s life and actions with the hope of making changes to validate one’s existence?
I have finished the tasks that I’ve set for myself at my middle child’s home. The last of the subflooring is done and the stairs recovered with vinyl. Having finished reading the one book I brought with me, I am reading one that I gave to my son-in-law, a book by Stephen R. Donaldson, the first book in the Gap series called The Real Story.
The book isn’t as good as I thought it might be as I remembered the old Thomas Covenant series as being powerful. Still, the book is better than nothing. Imagine my surprise when I found this in the book:
He’d never had much to do with women. In fact, he’d never doubted that he could live perfectly well without them altogether. But now his brain teemed with lust. Perversions which had nvere occurred to him before now seemed exciting, even compulsory. The more he saw of her helpless beauty, and the more he excercised himself on her flesh, the greater her hold on his imagination became – the more power she seemed to have over him. (Stephen R. Donaldson, The Real Story, 1991, p. 95)
The above quotation captures a human living in the grip of an archetype. The barriers between consciousness and unconsciousness have almost completely disappeared. The unconscious world, a huge and dark expanse of repressed evil as well as repressed positive aspects of what is possible, finds its way into the outer world through a weak ego which has somehow become too enamoured by the images that flood from the unconscious.
In a way, this is what lies at the root of most of our dysfunctional behaviours. The story of Mark Mocha is but one of many who have cracks in the ego that allow the unconscious to emerge. Each of us is a saint and a sinner. The more saintly we become, the more the sinner wants out of the closet so as to be recognized. It needs a strong ego to meet the shadow, and take on the awareness that this darkness is as much “self” as the good stuff. The work of the first half of life is to build this strong ego in order that when the second half of life enters and makes its demands toward wholeness, that one is ready. If one isn’t ready, one either retreats into rigidity, depression and dysfunction – or, one breaks down. Thank god for breakdowns. It is when one is broken that one is forced into dealing, finally, with the work of self-healing.
If there was any doubt in my mind that this time in Mexico wasn’t about alchemical transformation, then this image I captured yesterday in the late afternoon has erased that doubt. I was walking along with a number of other gringos down a beach lane that separates beach front and second row villas, a walk in which I had led the party to three different tropical hummingbird nests. On our return walk, I saw the sun peeking through the palms and “knew” I had to take the photo, this photo.
For a moment, I had shifted out of an attempt to be a social being. The “others” had simply vanished from my view with the sun taking their place. I was pulled into the sun and into a deeper place within my “self”. And only a few moments passed before I returned to the outer world and continued on the journey with others.
There is much to think about here, much to reflect on. I wonder if others will see what I have seen, feel what I have felt. I have to admit to an internal calming.
It’s an ego thing. We build and we build and we build. This is the same for most humans whether we are building at a personal level or on a collective level. We build things in hopes of making our mark on the world and more importantly, in order to create a sense of important presence in the eyes of those who would then “see” us as being important. We need the affirmation of others in order to feel of worth.
I watch here in the Yucatan while wealthy foreigners build monstrous villas, their winter homes, beside the modest little casas and casitas of the Mexicans who are their neigbours. And these buildings which proclaim a sense of privilege and wealth to all sit for the most part, empty as their owners are busy with life in their home countries. For those few moments that they do find themselves here, they bring others to witness their superiority, their worthiness, their value. Yet, it is all to no end. For time has a way of leveling. Death will take the owners and nature will assert its right to be.
When I look at this image, I also sense that the tree is an inner self that refuses to be contained by the articial walls that we build to project our sense of self, an insecure self that will beg others for positive affirmation. Try as hard as one wants, cracks will appear in the facade, our insecurities will slip out as unconscious contents so that we aren’t even aware of the cracks. In the end, we wonder, “What the hell happened?”
The morning horizon on a cloudy day. Why even bother with such a photo when there are so many colourful aspects of Mexico to capture with a camera?
As you can see, the separation between sky and sea is barely there. It reminded me of when I was struggling with my “self”. At times it was messy as I drifted from inner to outer worlds, not sure where I was. The unconscious spilled into my outer world bouncing off relationships at home and at work, disturbing the pond of my world.
With no effort at all, carefully constructed masks cracked and fell away. But rather than revealing a purer aspect of self, it only revealed the repressed shadows. And in doing so, those I loved were buffetted and tested.
It would be easy to get lost in the spaces where inner and outer meet but can’t be differentiated.