Archive for the ‘stress’ tag
I took another walk down the country road leading away from the prairie village in which I live with the new camera and lens. Because of a few days of “no rain” there are cracks on the side of the road that caught my attention. In case you are wondering, I took many other photos, not just of the dried mud. I am sure a few of them will likely end up on the blog site. Why the mud? I guess the best answer was that it caught my eye. I can say I am pleased with the quality of the photos that the new camera and lens are giving to me as I learn to look again at what is my normal daily world here on the Canadian prairie.
When one is “too much” into one domaine, whether it be work, play or wandering through the innerscapes, there is added tension, more that is “normal” and is called “stress.” I think of all the things that cause me stress, cause those closest to me stress and I find it often comes down to giving up something that is felt to be needed for something that has less value. For example, one of my sons-in-law has had a scare regarding his father who ended up in hospital with a presumed heart attack. Thankfully for the family it ended up being something significantly less serious and life returned to normal. However, for this son-in-law, a realisation that his own work life was taking a huge toll on his future health and family well-being came front and centre. He now knows that he must somehow bring balance back into his life or it would crack like the mud in the photo.
Of course, most of us don’t notice the small cracks of stress. We get used to their presence and shift our expectations until there comes a point when the cracks are so deep they feel like canyons that can’t be crossed. At that point one either gives up or takes up the challenge to bridge those canyons in search of balance. Of course, at this point, I am talking of the balance between a few things: self and other, consciousness and unconsciousness, self and Self. At least, this is where I find myself at this time in my life, building bridges over the cracks in hopes of gaining a better perspective of my relationship to my self and the universe.
While in Progreso, Yucatan, a small city on the northern coast, I came across this herd of goats with both a man and a woman acting as shephards. They were trying to move the goats to a small green area next to a trucking lot filled with trailers. The contrast with a modern world of sattelite televisions is amazing. Contrasts. It makes for good photos and it makes for drama. And, it makes for stress and conflict.
The contrast between our conscious self and our unconscious self is just as stark. Refusing to acknowledge the presence of the opposite, the constrast causes one untold grief. Denying the existence of the old ways in a modern world leads to an impovershment of both new and old ways. Denying the existence of one’s shadows and presences of archetypes as they present themselves to us through dreams, through our interactions and our behaviours results in psychic pain akin to psychosis.
We actually know that there is something wanting our attention, yet we refuse to acknowledge it out of fear. To acknowledge this “something” means us opening a can of worms, a Pandora’s Box. We know that things can never be the same once we go “there”. And fear tells us that it can only be worse. Well, in a way, it will be worse for the persona that we desperately cling to for personal meaning. Yet, as in the Pandora Box tale, opening the box has a great gift waiting for us.
This is an old photo I took in the spring of 1979. This is supposed to be a self-portrait. I decided to take this using a window as a mirror. When I first developed the image, I realised that this actually said more about me than a self-portrait that would have captured all of the outer aspects that all could see. And it was fitting for me to use this photo to talk more about the persona.
At the time, I was back at university completing my B.Ed. after four years of teaching in the northern regions of Canada, teaching in a number of First Nations’ and Métis communities. I had spent four years building my image as a teacher within those communities. Of course, since I was an outsider, a southerner, I was able to craft a unique persona without much pressure from a community to conform to a stereotype. In a way, that freedom had set me up for expecting to have that freedom for the years to come. And of course, it meant that I would struggle when I returned to the south where there were more rigid expectations about what a teacher was like. It was a confusing and difficult transition as I rebuilt my persona so as to escape undo attention and stress.
Whoever looks into the mirror of the water will see first of all his own face. Whoever goes to himself risks a confrontation with himself. The mirror does not flatter, it faithfully shows whatever looks into it; namely, the face we never show to the world because we cover it with the persona, the mask of the actor. But the mirror lies behind the mask and shows the true face.
“Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious” (1935). In CW 9, Part I: The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. P.43
Of course, I knew the truth of who I was under the mask. I saw the truth when I looked in the mirror. As the years passed, the lie between the persona and what I saw in the mirror deepened into depression. I didn’t like what I saw. I didn’t like the lie, especially with my family. The were learning to live with someone I saw as a stranger. The more I struggled, the more I buried under layers. There came a day when the acting crashed and the mask cracked. The unconscious refused to be forever denied.