Archive for the ‘risk’ tag
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.
This is a hummingbird that I photographed in January while in Costa Rica. I never realised that there were so many kinds of hummingbirds, especially those with short beaks like this one. I was fortunate to be able to capture quite a few different types of hummingbirds while in Costa Rica. Lately, I have bee seeing one particular hummingbird in our back yard as it sniffs around the flowers of our garden. I am constantly amazed at how it flies so quickly only to stop, hover, drop lower or rise higher or dart side to side as if the most technologically efficient aircraft. This little bird can do what technology can only dream of accomplishing.
For me, the hummingbird is a call to “joie de vivre.” In this photo, as I look into the eyes of the hummingbird, I see something of the challenge to be. Yes, simply to be as fully “me” as I can. I see the challenge to do. It is almost as if I am being “dared” to step out of the ordinary into the extraordinary, to risk even greater change.. And in his eyes, in her eyes, I see the infinite. The path traced by the wings of a hummingbird form the symbol of infinity, an eight laying sideways – also the symbol used by the Métis people as a symbol of themselves as a people.
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.
I went out yesterday morning into my back yard with the camera and found a few photos that will make there way here. There is so much that nature has to show us and to teach us if we would just listen. This photo is of a young lilac bush that I transplanted last year alongside a new fence that my son and I put up to replace one that was rotting and falling down. The leaves are trying hard to burst out into life.
I used the macro setting for this photo. I hope to get more practice with this feature on my camera as it allows me to “see” the world in a different way. It’s interesting how things appear that before seemed to be hidden from me.
During a discussion about events in China last night with one of my readers here, Deborah, who is a teacher in China, Deborah gave me a small poem by Anaïs Nin. At that time she didn’t know that I had chosen this photo for today’s blog post. The poem seems to be a perfect match. Thanks, Deborah.
And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
Since it is spring, there are signs all over the place of new life making an appearance. For me it is interesting that this new life shows up on both young and old plants. Some old trees seem to be slower at showing these new leaves, and some like the old apple tree in my yard hurry to be the first with new leaves and then with blossoms.
When I think on how I am changing and how opportunities arise where none seem to have existed before, I begin to realise that these opportunities are always there. Sometimes one isn’t ready to notice them, or ready to risk taking advantage of these opportunities. I know that I am often faced with dilemmas that beg for an answer, an answer that I don’t seem to have. CG Jung tells me to hold on to the tension and not rush to choose between what appears to be two opposing options. If I hold the tension long enough, a third option will appear. This new option is just that, an option. If one is uncomfortable with breaking into new territory the new option will quickly be rejected and one falls back on old habits, usually one that is based on what “others” expect from us.
Choosing to risk the new option, one places all at risk. Everything changes. This is the path of individuation, that journey of “self” discovery, the journey of consciousness growing out of darkness.
Just one small comment about the photo, it was edited using Adobe Photoshop Elements. The photo was created first with no idea on how it would be used or even if it would be used. Then, in my second attempt at a post for the Rubedo phase, I came to realise that a photo of a bird, or a scene, or an artifact could not evoke what I wanted for this post. The original photo taken during a moment of doubt and internal conflict was the closest I could come. It was only after risking the choice of the photo that I then tweaked onto the idea of “reddening” the photo, that I saw that it belonged. Will the photo offend? Likely. There is a chance that I will lose a number of readers here. However, that risk must be taken. It isn’t about appeasing the collective, it is about honouring the self in the hope that in being transparent, more is gained than lost.
So we must press onward to the final stage, the rubedo, which has often been called the ‘Marriage of Luna and Sol’, the fusion of the human and divine, the union of the personality (Luna) with the essential Self (Sol). Now the retort can be opened to reveal the philosopher’s stone, the pure gold of Wisdom, the diamond body, the Gnostic Anthropos, the Heavenly Man, Salvator, filius macrocosmi; by whatever name it has been called, there now stands forth the divine original man, long buried and forgotten in the very centre of our being.[Jung, CW 12, p. 256)
Hidden in these words is the key, “the fusion of the human and divine.” How do I understand this? Well, in honesty I have two different understandings. One suggests that the spirit and soul become one, where spirit is consciousness and soul is unconsciousness giving one a state of wholeness – holiness. Here are a few more words, this time from Daryl Sharp:
Next, the rubedo involves dealing with the opposites – differentiating good from bad, want from need, personal values from those dictated by the collective. Constellated opposites activate in turn the archetype of crucifixion, which is ubiquitous in the Western unconscious, whether we adhere to Christian beliefs or not. In short, we are torn between this and that, in conflict wit ourselves. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book Two, 2008, pp 50-51)
Wow! To me this reads like a trial by fire in which the heat gets turned up forcing one to fully strip away all dross and allow the self to emerge purged of fear and doubt. What remains isn’t necessarily a pretty sight in the eyes of others, of the collective. But, it is honest. It is only this way that one can rise from our own ashes, integrated, whole . . . holy.
Wheresoever patterns are found, there are complexes at work. Wheresoever complexes are found, history prevails over the present. Wheresoever history prevails over the present, we are stuck. (James Hollis, On This Journey We Call Life, 2003, p.31)
Again, I include another photo from April, 2008, taken during that same time which could be considered as stealing from the conference in China. For me, this walk in the rain was a magical time, where the world took on a numinous quality, where I entered into a larger place which once part of a childhood that knew the world was infinite and that it was bigger and fuller than could possibly be imagined. For a moment, I felt free, filled with possibilities that had been both consciously and unconsciously denied.
What had I been denying myself? I don’t know, really. I do know that I was (and still remain) more focused on pleasing other(s). I had looked outside myself for approval, an action that was and remains doomed to failure because without self-approval, the accolades from outside become just more tinsel. Of course this is points to being dominated by complexes.
For example, a mother complex or a father complex. Not getting one’s needs filled in childhood by one’s opposite parent usually results in one entering into a relationship with someone who either will fulfil the need or one who reinforces the devaluation by the parent (see James Hollis for more on this theme in both the book quoted above and in his book, The Eden Project). The person becomes stuck in the relationship. And in being stuck, it becomes that person’s task to confront himself or herself with the reality of the complex and the nature of the relationship. Not willing to risk the relationship only dooms the quality of the relationship. Worse, it dooms one’s soul.
In thinking about this post, I thought back to this photo I took in April, 2008 in ChangZhou, Jiangsu, China. I was taking part in a three-day event with other Foreign Experts who were at work in education in China. Before I get into the post, I do want tos say that risking the two years as a university prof in China was one of the greatest gifts I ever gave to myself… Now back to the photo. I was between sessions, well truth be told, I had snuck out during one of those interminable boring aspects of conferencing in order to wander in the light showers of an overcast afternoon. I took ownership of my time rather than allow an outside force to maintain authority. And in doing so, I found this flower. I was there with it at this point in time, a point in time never to be recaptured.
Each of us loses so many of these precious points in time because we give authority over ourselves to others and to the world. Failing to take the risk because of wanting to maintain approval of other(s), results in loss – loss of soul, a diminishing of self.
If I risk myself, I may lose your approval. If I lose your approval, I will perhaps still be larger, for I will have gained my own approval. (James Hollis, On This Journey We Call Life, 2003, p. 30)