Archive for the ‘photo blog’ tag
It’s a gray day here in Puerto Morelos, my last full day in this location. Tomorrow I will be on the road to Belize. I may (or may not) get around to putting up a post between now and tomorrow evening. But then again, it isn’t that I have to put up posts, it is all about whether given time and opportunity, that I find the motivation to write and have something perhaps worthy of being written. I did get to meditate at the edge of the pier this morning though there was no observable sunrise. The wind had dropped to a very cool breeze on my back making sure I stayed present rather than falling asleep. Since I have been meditating at the edge of the pier, it would mean that I would get wet should I fall asleep and roll off the end of the pier. I don’t worry about it because I do know how to swim.
There was no walking along the beach this morning. Rather, the time was spent making sure that all is in readiness for tomorrow’s travels. Now, it is raining and walking has been delayed to later this afternoon, even if it means wearing a rain jacket or using an umbrella. I do need to make it into town and get a bit more money from an ATM and perhaps a few pieces of fruit for the long bus ride south. Then, it will be a walk back to our little casita where we will play some cards, read a book, surf the Internet and somehow pass the hours as we transition from here to there.
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.
There are only a few more days left for me to enjoy the best of what winter can offer on the Canadian prairies. Luckily for me, the weather has moderated allowing me to go for walks without having to be so wrapped up in layers as was needed last week. The skies have been clear for the most part letting me enjoy some much needed sunshine, and my spirits have risen with its appearance. For an hour or more each afternoon I have been lazing in a chair with the sun’s rays warming my body and bringing me a sense of contentment.
This afternoon and evening I will be in the city of Swift Current in order to watch my eldest grandson play two games of hockey in his “home” tournament. Ironically, the first game will be against my hometown team. Needless to say, I will be cheering for my grandson and his team. Grandson number two will be refereeing a game during the evening as well so there is a likelihood that I will be able to watch him as well. This is life on the Canadian prairies in the wintertime.
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.
Now, for a change, I am presenting a photo I didn’t take though the photo was taken with my camera. On the Saturday before the QingMing Festival, I was in HongMei Park with my partner and a friend. After wandering for a few hours, it was decided that a rest on a park bench was in order. Of course, being laowai (foreigner) in China means that one gets stared at a lot. My normal response is to smile when this happens. Of course, many take the smile as an invitation to connect in some way.
Most of the time this is followed up by a request to have my photo (or my partner’s photo) taken with the person. Sometimes the smile has a well-meaning parent trying to coax a young person to practice their meagre supply of English phrases. And at other times, there is a deliberate attempt to communicate. Since I have a darker complexion and somewhat sleepy eyes, many think I speak Mandarin. The truth is, I only know some basic Mandarin, not enough for ANY conversation, just enough for some basic communication.
On this Saturday, an older man eventually decided to sit beside me and begin talking. Once I got past the fact that I was Canadian and a teacher at a university, it was evident that I couldn’t hold a conversation. But being Canadian was enough. I was rewarded with an offer of a cigarette. Now, I don’t smoke – period. However, knowing the culture and how important certain traditions are for older people, I accepted the cigarette and puffed along with him, something I don’t do for the president of the university and other important bigwigs in city government. A few more attempts at conversation and the man decided that singing would be a better thing to do.
Of course, he sang in Mandarin, a song about HongMei, red plum blossoms. The song was slow enough that I was able to join him in a fair number of points. I can make the sounds, I just don’t know what the words mean. By the time we finished the song, an audience of local people erupted in applause. As my way of saying thanks to this man for his song, I sang a French-Canadian song, “Un Canadien Errant.”
It was a magical moment and it was enough.
There is a considerable amount of work going on near the apartment that has to do with power lines. Tall towers are being taken down and replaced with taller ones that hold even more power grid lines. The actual number of towers is dwindling significantly as many lines are being placed underground. The face of the city is changing in the process. A talk with one of the city’s vice-mayors let me know that the changes I have seen in the past four years are going to pale in comparison with the changes yet to come as Changzhou races to embrace modernity. This man seems happy enough with the changes. Though, looking at his situation, I wonder how he can find such a deep smile for me. I guess it is all about where he came from and what his past story was about.
Perhaps we watch too many movies and expect change to always result in “happily ever after.”
“We need to remember that what one has learned from nature, from our own encounter with the world or the psyche, may not be pleasing to the ego. And yet, such knowledge always expands our purview, and therefore our freedom. Much of what we learn of the world and its deceits will undermine our idealism. Much of what we bring back to the surface will actually make living more painful, but it will be more honest.” (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 77)
Freedom. Yes, freeedom; it’s another word for taking authority and responsibility for self. It doesn’t mean the absence of outside authority, the absence of the collective rules. It is about one’s relationship to the “self” in the context within which one lives. So the big question has to be, “Is it all worth it?” Of course, I can only speak for myself with any authority, “Yes.” As I write these words, the lyrics from a Kris Kristofferson song comes to mind, “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” Stripped of all the tinsel, what is basic and simple, not all shiny and glittery.
One gives up on the projections foisted upon others, on community and on the “others” at distance who have carried our darkness. I guess it could be likened to taking down the Christmas decorations where one sees the bareness, the warts and all, of who lies beneath all of the masks and mirrors with which one has lived with self and others. There is something to smile about, just as this older man has learned, when the falseness has been stripped away and one is left with “self.” The freedom to be oneself rather than to carry the weight of masks and mirrors is worth the journey in my opinion.
Now for the real challenge. Shall I dare to move toward a more authentic life? Do I have a real choice? Do you? To deny the journey will shrivel my soul. And if my soul shrivels, so does the soul of the collective. With that said, I wish each of you, my readers, a Happy New Year. Dare to be you! You deserve it, I deserve it, our planet is desperate for this.
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.