Archive for the ‘Saskatchewan’ tag
I am back home in Canada. I have been home for almost a week and have yet to discover spring-like conditions. With snow still laying on the ground, slowly melting into what can best be described as a wet mess, it is the perfect time for sitting indoors and thinking. I realise that I have been posting very little here or on my other blog sites, but I am not very worried about that in the least. I haven’t abandoned them, but have simply taken some space and time for other things in my life. I will continue to post relevant articles on each of the blog sites that are appropriate for the theme of each site.
I have been keeping busy with a number of different activities such as snow removal, checking out resources and building extended community networks based on Buddhist and Naturist interests. But mostly, I have been writing. The writing isn’t destined for any of my blog sites. Rather, it is an attempt at a book, what could best be described as a non-fiction book. I have created an outline, written the preface and have begun to fill in the blank spaces. At some point I will call on a few of you to proofread the work in hopes of getting it ready for publication. With that said, I will leave this alone and now talk of other things. For this space, Through a Jungian Lens, I intend continuing with the subject of Mother-Complex. There is a lot more to yet be said.
On another front, I am finding a pull back into reading the works of James Hillman and of another Jungian oriented writer, Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul. His books with titles such as The Lost Sutras of Jesus and The Soul’s Religion have piqued my interest. I was led to discover the existence of these books through two separate incidents. The first was a question from my wife about Care of the Soul, a book I read a long time ago. More recently, I received notice from Huffington Post about an article written by Moore called “Catholic Without A Church“, an article that resonated with me. Somewhere along the way, I lost my connection to the church while still remaining a catholic. Other books waiting for my attention are Buddhist in orientation, with titles by Osho, Pema Chodron, Chogyam Trungpa and a few others. Of course I won’t have time this spring for all of these books. Simply thinking of taking time for them is filling me with a sense of anticipation.
With this now said, I will take my leave and return relatively soon with the next instalment in the Mother-Complex series.
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.
The skies have cleared and the snow has stopped falling leaving the world freshly scrubbed with glistening white. I went for a walk in this windscape of white feeling the light wind burning cheeks and nose, knowing that I was alive and present. There was no space left for thinking, just being. At my side, my wife walked with me. We turned to see each other knowing that it was a good thing, that we were in a good place.
The last day of 2012 is here and I have continued to post blogs here, however not as frequently as in the past. I do want to finish the year with a post to share with you. Tomorrow I will be with my eldest child and her family for a turkey New Year’s evening meal following an afternoon at a hockey game. I know I wont be thinking of the blog site or anything else while I am with my two eldest grandsons and their parents. I am learning that being present involves more than just body presence.
Returning home the next day it then becomes time for packing and re-packing our bags in order to finally decide what goes and what stays in the bags. Of course we will have packed too much while worrying that we haven’t packed enough.
As I go through each day until we fly off, I continue to practice being present, even for the little things like doing dishes or other daily task. And each day I will take time to meditate with wishes that each of you can be freed from worries and suffering.
Happy New Year! – Bonne et Heureuse Année! - ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!
A sunny morning brings hints of green and gold, hints of a world that is alive. But, unless you live in this land, you don’t realise that this bright winter sunshine usually means that the temperature has dropped considerably. If anything, the weak sunlight leaches out what little life is left leaving plants freeze-dried and burnt. The scene makes me think of how sometimes we allow our thinking self to draw life from our feeling self so that we become lopsided in life, cold and hard embracing facts and a world that is seen only in terms of black and white. Not allowing messy shades of grey creates a deep-rooted anger and bitterness in what is left of the soul.
The work on our home has just been completed and our home is returning to something that might be called normal. I use the word “normal” loosely as each day is somewhat different than the day before, or the days before. My writing has been productive in spite of my not knowing when I would have time to write. My practice of meditation has been shifted almost on a daily basis from what I might call my “usual” time to a different time in order to accommodate questions of those doing the renovation work, or other needs that make an appearance
If it could be said that we approach our days here with set routines, the month of December turns all of those routines on their heads. As in likely all small communities, December brings those gatherings of various groups for celebration of Christmas as a community. As well as these “community” gatherings, there are the smaller “get together” meals with friends and neighbours, with return meals as we take turns being hosts and hosted.
Our habit of taking a daily walk is also tossed around during December. We must pay close attention to weather, especially wind, and the forecast so as to somehow chose the best time to walk and even where to walk. If wind persists, we find ourselves walking in various patterns around the small town rather than following our favoured country roads. We walk keeping shelter from the wind in mind, or at least limiting the amount of time walking against the wind which plunges the actual temperatures to even colder “wind chill” temperatures.
All of this makes for the carving each day as a unique experience regardless of the fact that most would see very little of this uniqueness. One can only appreciate the uniqueness of each present moment if one is fully present in the present.
The house is decorated for Christmas. We have put up enough of our traditional Christmas decorations to add a bit of that “light” felling that we associate with the years when our children were small and filled with the magical wonder of Christmas. This Christmas is different from the last Christmas we were in our home here in Canada as we will not be gifted with any of our children coming “home” for Christmas. We had thought not to put up decorations but soon tossed that idea out as there is more to the lights and the decorations than family. The lights and decorations are a statement to the darkness and cold of winter that we are alive. The lights and decorations are our protest against the deep sleep. And that is enough of a reason to welcome another Christmas season in our home.
On the way home from visiting grandchildren in America, these two very large moose decided to cross the highway about a half-hour south of my home. The bull’s rack of antlers was just beginning to form. There are still a good variety and very good population numbers of wild animals on the Canadian prairies. The two moose passed in front of me, ignoring my presence though I was less than fifty metres away, two powerful and potentially dangerous beings.
Wild and free, or wild and contained. After having spent a good amount of time wandering up and down trails through the very old mountains of France, I had thought I had done the work necessary to set myself free of ghosts and shadows that had haunted me for much of my life. But, did I really set myself free or did I simply let down broken fences that kept the shadows and ghosts too close? As I walked the stone strewn trails, stumbling along clumsily, I thought at first I was outrunning the shadows, turning often to see if they were visible behind me on the trails. It was only when I was too exhausted, almost broken by the hills with my head bent down, thinking exhausted, that I gave up the great escape, the desperate flight from my ghosts and shadows. I had no energy left for holding the barriers in place.
A curious thing happened at that point. Rather than being overwhelmed and consumed by those shadows and ghosts that haunted me, nothing happened. At least that is what I experienced. I was still exhausted, too exhausted to fight back against shadows. I was ripe for takeover. But, nothing happened. There was nothing that would happen. With my self-imposed barbed wire and electrified fences disabled, I had set myself free of the prison that constrained me. The shadows and ghosts that pursued were not external villains and evil spectres, they were denied aspects of me.
I continued to walk, differently, over the trails that crossed small mountains and farmers’ fields and through villages and towns. The walking became easier as I had only physical pains reminding me to stay present on my own journey, a journey that had taken me home psychologically and geographically.
It’s a Canadian Thanksgiving weekend and I am in the USA enjoying time with my daughter and her family. Part of our weekend together is being spent watching three of my grandsons playing football, discovering all sorts of bits of nature in nature areas, and having a turkey supper – Canadian Thanksgiving in America. There are rare quiet moment to be found in spite of the intensity of being actively present, moments such as the present when homework is being done. Both parents and children are busy with tasks of the first half of life. I have the luxury of being able to step aside for moments and reflect on what is going on; that is one of the benefits of being in the second half of life.
The second half of life can provide a man or a woman with time and motivation to stand aside, outside of the knee-jerk responses to life that seems to dominate most of the first half of life. I am one of the fortunate ones as I don’t have to focus on safety, food, shelter or any of the other things that demand attention. Retirement and economic security takes care of most of my needs. The “right” circumstances don’t necessarily mean that adults in the second half of life take advantage of this opportunity to become reflective and moderate their responses to life.
Some continue to maintain a knee-jerk response to life, usually in response to the lives of their children and grandchildren. They find it hard to live their one lives, thinking that they need to, even “must” cling even closer to their adult children and “control” their adult children and through them, their grandchildren. They intend the best as they micro-manage the lives of their children and grandchildren. There is no “reflective” distance which would allow their adult children to navigate their own lives as parents. There is no “reflective” distance which would allow themselves to discover a deeper, wider purpose to their own lives.
Refusing to enter into the second half of life and its “golden” opportunities is a psychological tragedy. Such a refusal is all about fear. Rather than face the second half of life, there is a determined effort to insert oneself into the lives of others so as to avoid having to face the fact of one’s own mortality.
Life as a grandparent can be a liberating phase if one is willing to give up being frustrated, bitter and resentful of their adult children and their mates who don’t see and respond to life in the same manner. I have given up the idea of trying to control my children and grandchildren; I have given up beating my head against a wall, frustrated that in spite of my efforts that I can’t avoid those moments when I must return to my own life and my own fears. As a result I am better able to enjoy these strange beings; and hopefully, they are better able to enjoy my presence.
I took this photo while walking in the fields near Lake Diefenbaker, the same walk that gifted me with beautiful cactus flowers.To my eyes, this is one of the more beautiful flowers that nature provides us in an area that is more often than not, dry and drab in terms of colour. Most of the flowers are tiny and pastel in colour, matching the land which is itself sun bleached. For a brief period of time, the thistle dares to announce its presence, defying the sun and at the same time celebrating that very same sun. It shouts out: ‘I am here!’
I think about the youth in the modern, western world who do much the same as they pierce ears, eye lids, lips, tongues, noses, cheeks, foreheads and numerous other parts of their body; these young people who cover as much of their skin as possible with tattoos, often with symbols of which they have little or no knowledge. There is a lot of work, a lot of thought that goes into the crafting of a “look,” a way for each of these youth to scream out, “I am here! See me! Acknowledge me!” And those screams are framed with anxiety that even with all of this work, they will remain unseen, lost to their communities and sadly to themselves. I do not say this as a critic of piercing or tattoos or of dress and hair styles, I say this because of the pain, confusion and anger that I see in the undisguised eyes of those “thistles” who dare to be weeds in order to feel alive for a brief moment in time.
At least we see these individuals even if we are repelled or disgusted with what we see. So many of our youth that appear as clones of what we deem as acceptable, are just as wounded. They disappear into the music of their iPhones or mp3 players; they disappear into all sorts of gaming systems; they disappear into addictions of drugs, booze and sex; or they disappear within as they mimic the norm in hopes that in this way they will find acceptance and meaning.
What do we hear and see about our youth? What do we want to hear and see? What do they tell us about ourselves as adults and about our communities in which they are raised? If we listen carefully we will hear that we have not given them a sense of self-worth that is below the surface of the outer world. Collectively we have destroyed the inner worlds.
Now, anyone who approaches what is left of those inner worlds is seen as being mentally unwell. We prescribe pills, therapy, camps, programs and even shopping experiences as a panacea in hopes that any or all of these prescriptions will put them out of their depths into the bright sunny outer world. And in our desperate acts to save our children from their depths, we teach them that if it lies below the surface, it is not good.
This was my home for a year, a fly-in isolated northern community only about 25 kilometres south of the North West Territories. This was the location of my first school and my first principalship. There were no roads, no cars or trucks and the nearest grocery store was 25 kilometres to the east in a small town called Uranium City. To go for groceries it was necessary to charter a float plane. There was no television, no cinemas, no restaurants or bars, no shopping of any kind. Just a tiny settlement on the northern edge of Lake Athabasca where the deer, the moose, the caribou and other wildlife decided to play. Entertainment was a small collection of books (Nietzsche, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and whatever found its way to our door via the mail – air mail of course.
The year was a good one even though the community was struggling with every possible disorder and disability that one could imagine. I fit right in, the crazy French-Canadian. In their eyes, I wasn’t a “white man.” Because of this sabbatical from mainstream Canada, I was able to focus on shoring up the barricades that kept my personal history a mystery to me. I was useful, important, a community leader and after four months, a father. I learned that I had strength and skills and that I had value and worth in the eyes of others. What a precious gift to get for a young man with a very dark history.