Archive for the ‘river’ tag
The song I used in one of my first lessons with each new set of students while teaching at the university in ChangZhou, was by Garth Brooks, The River. Using the song as a major part of a motivational set, the students were then able to open up more easily and speak of their own dreams and how they changed over their brief lives of childhood and youth. Dreams constantly change as life somehow twists and turns and sometimes doubles back on itself. But that said, there are some dreams that shape-shift to fit the constantly changing terrain of one’s life. The core of the dream remains, only the outer world expression of the dream changes.
But this post is looking at a different simile, the one in which life is compared with the river. Of course, as is the usual manner in which I approach almost anything I write here, this is not intended to be some sort of universal truth, but simply how I see it at this point and time in my life. And, just because I understand it this way at this moment, I can only speak from that position. Life is like a river. The image I chose for today’s post inspired that thought. This is a section of the Battle River which flows through two quarter sections that my eldest daughter and her husband own in east-central Alberta. I have seen this river at different levels depending on the season and the environmental conditions that exist between the source of the river and this particular point along the rivers journey.
At times, the river’s flow is restricted and slow as though there was not enough energy to free up water for the flow. Something at the source has remained frozen for two long, or there was not enough winter snow to feed the river’s flow. I see that same thing happening in my life at times where my energy levels are lower and I move and think more slowly as a result. Other times, the river overflows its banks and floods the land making wholesale changes which often seem to appear to be more about damaging and destroying. But, when the river recedes back to its place between banks that have changed somewhat because of the flooding, new life appears on the flooded land. The flooding has enriched the land. And like the physical river, life has a way of overwhelming us with “too much-ness.” Psychologically the unconscious floods us through an overabundance of dreams, or through activated complexes due to our interpersonal relationships becoming heated in any number of ways. In the end, when the dreams recede and our heads have a time to rest, we find that we have changed in some ways, hopefully we have become more conscious and thus better able to be in relationship with ourselves and with others.
But that said, there are no guarantees about anything. The changes could result in improved relationships, lost relationship and perhaps new relationships. The only thing to be certain of is that everything changes. Attempting to hold on to what was is nothing but a neurotic response for what was no longer exists, what was has been transformed by the flow of life.
I originally took this photo as part of a collection detailing the YanCheng area which is a site that recreates part of Changzhou’s history that goes back at least 2,500 years. The tower is representative of something that normally would have been found in the Ching and Ming dynasties. However, when I took this photo from a high point, it leaves me feeling that I am looking at a portal that leads down into the earth.
The only gift I remember getting from my maternal grandmother was really not a gift, but a book I got from my maternal grandfather upon my grandmother’s death, was a book called The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. I was a teenager at the time and the book filled my “Catholic” head with images that rivaled those from my dreams. If anything, the images highlighted the inner images that came from within me. It wasn’t long after getting and reading this book that a complete stranger, an adult male that I had never seen before, stopped me on a street in downtown Ottawa and told me that I had to read Thus Spake Zarathustra by F.W. Nietzsche.
My mythic dreams, these two books, a depression and a loneliness that came from moving too many times in the first 17 years of my life and attending too many schools in different provinces and cities had marked me, had prepared me as though I were some alchemical stew, for a rebirth. There was no way for my upward into a new life until I had plumbed the depths where the old would be transformed as though in a cauldron over a huge fire.
“If energy shows up in a dream image, then it already exists in the psyche of the dreamer. The invisible has been rendered visible. The task of consciousness is to begin to consider this energy, to weigh its presence and to incorporate it into the conduct of daily life. The dream has brought gifts which are continuing to this moment. Before one can deepen as a person, one must visit the depths within. We cannot ascend without first descending. (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 74)
There were so many “Ah-ha!” moments in the reading of these two books and the inner images from my dreams that found a voice in my music and my drawings at that time, that I risked all. The most telling moment for me in that time of my life was the moment when I stood on a bridge over the Ottawa River and debated my journey with my Self. I chose to continue this journey, but with one proviso, I would be a different person. Standing on the bridge in the early hours of the morning I stared long into the dark waters. With the decision made, I threw all that I had on me, into the dark waters as though these “things” would serve as a sacrifice of my old life so that I could ascend into a new life.