Archive for the ‘selfish’ tag
Going to Angkor Wat is an experience that gets extended with other temples in the relatively nearby area. This photo was taken at Ta Promh, a temple complex that didn’t get the care over the centuries that most of the temple sites enjoyed. As a result nature has reclaimed so much of the site and salvaging some of the site is a challenge.
When I saw these roots almost devouring the walls of the temple, I couldn’t help but think of the temple as the self. I think back of the time when I was so focused on others that the foundations of my self was eroding. I have to admit that I didn’t think of balance in my own life. I assumed that all I had to do was to put myself fully into parenting, being a marriage partner, teaching and coaching and a community member and all would be well. Each of these things I did was something worthy and honourable. Each of these things gave meaning to life and had value to myself as well as to others. So, how was my attention to these things having my self break down?
First, I believed that it was right to be unselfish, I actually still feel the same way. Only thing was in the past, I mistook the meaning of being selfish as taking time for my own mental health, my own psychic health. In most things, this actually caused me no end of problems. Whenever anyone asked what I wanted, I always would respond with figuring out what the person wanted so that I would choose correctly. If I dithered long enough, or simply returned the choice back to the other person, the correct decision would be made based on the wants of the others. Most times I had no opinion, no desires, just the desire to please, to be of use, to affirm the choices of others. But not always.
This was the key point, for each time I had an opinion or a desire and I would defer to another person, it ate at something deep within me. Over time, my opinion stopped being solicited and that added to my sense of unimportance. I taught those around me that my opinion wasn’t needed, that only their opinions and needs were of value. With balance falling further and further away, I became easily upset and as a result angry with myself for feeling upset as it was me being selfish.
Dreams warned me of the dangers of my eroding psychic foundations, but I ignored the warnings and worked harder than ever to fill my life with family, school, sports and service. With the foundations eroding, the control I had over shutting shadow out was evaporating. I became more and more irrational. It was only because of my training in counselling as a psychotherapist that I finally recognised what was happening and took a “time out” in order to bring balance back, to repair the foundations.
A few moments after the storm had broken, I slipped outside for a walk that had been rain delayed. As the sun tried to break through the clouds, I I caught a glimpse of that sun reflected in a large puddle. The image sent me racing back into the house for my camera so that I could capture this image before it transformed into something completely different. With the photo taken, I continued the walk in an attempt to beat the return of the rain storm. The walk between the rain was navigated without becoming drenched and cold. I had risked taking this walk, risked damage to my hearing aids. I know, it would have been wiser of me to remove the aids before going for the walk. But, at what cost? Without the hearing aids, I would have experienced less.
As I look into the photo, it is somewhat like being pulled into it. There is a pull into the underworld, a call to dive into the water in order to follow the light. In some ways, the light, surrounded by the darkness, makes me think of going down a tunnel as if I would become a modern day “Alice” getting ready to fall down into a “rabbit hole.” Even before that thought was completed, another thought emerged, that of the “light at the end of a tunnel” that is often used as the image of near-death experiences. No wonder I was pulled to take the photograph, and pulled again to bring it here.
There is a certain, perhaps perverse, fascination in following the call into the unconscious in order to become more conscious. Why do I say that it is possibly a perverse attraction? Well, I guess I had better define my use of perverse as “deliberately deviating from what is regarded as normal, good, or proper.” The key word is “normal.” In the community I live in, it is not normal to invest in the “inner world.” It is normal to invest in being present and focused on the outer world. A person’s worth is judged on appearances and on presence, even if the presence is superficial. Too much of an inner focus leads one to be branded as strange, aloof, spaced-out or as an egg head that thinks he/she is too superior for the common, ordinary, everyday Joe. Knowing the societal reaction that must follow when one is drawn into the unconscious, to choose the call is a defiance of what community calls “normal, good or proper.” To heed the call is a statement to the community that one is rejecting the community, that one is selfish. So, why then, would one ever want to follow that call, to follow the light into the tunnel?
How can I explain it in a way that is “sensible?” I follow because I “have” to, not because I “want” to. To “not follow” would be akin to committing a suicide of soul with the result that I would shrivel and become a shell of a person, bitter and angry all the time. Why would I risk anything for which I have worked so hard for so many years? Why would I risk relationship? Why would I risk economic well-being? Why would I risk losing even my small space in community? I know what is at stake and yet the loss of all of this is less than the loss of “soul.”
And so, I tumble into the underworld chasing an illusory sun beneath the surface of the water, into the dark and wet underworld of the unconscious – with hope.