Archive for the ‘water’ tag
I took a lot of photos when I was at Angkor Wat in Cambodia like any good camera-toting tourist. But I was looking for more that the classical scenes of ruins, I was looking for portals, doorways into another way to being in this world, doorways into other dimensions of time and place. This photo captures something of this sense of otherness for me, capturing the water which hints of depths while mirroring the presence in a manner that says, it really isn’t as it seems to our limited vision. hinting that reality is perhaps a figment of imagination. With the presence of the stones which try to hint of human efforts to tame the world, yet serve as evidence that human efforts are subject to a greater power, that of time and nature and the sun. And then there was this tree, larger than other trees with roots descending deep into the earth as if suckling at the breast of the Mother, roots feeding on the water buried in darkness below the surface – a Tree of Life that reaches up as if in prayer to the sun and the spirit of the Father.
In the late afternoon, less than an hour from full sunset, these crabs were seen running around on the exposed sand bars of a receding tide. They are called Sand Bubbler Crabs or as they were once called, Cancer Sucatus. As the tide recedes they mine the sand for bits of detritus which becomes their food. There is something in this image that also talks to me psychologically, of how we mine what is often appearing to be sterile wasteland for those bits and pieces of past life (detritus) which becomes valuable, becomes essential food for psychic life. It reminds me of the analytic process where one rummages through ancient images in dreams and via active imagination in search of the same things. Of course, being a Cancerian man, I have an affinity to all things related to crabs as my readers already know.
Just as an aside, here is a write up about a Cancerian Man from Keen.com:
A Cancerian man can make a wonderful long-term partner for the right woman. He’s ruled by emotion and matters of the heart, and not by his intellect. Because of this, he’s usually very affectionate, thoughtful, and intuitive of the feelings of others, especially of those he cares about. Home and family are of utmost importance to a Crab, and he can be fiercely protective. Cancer thrives on stability, security, and comfort. You’ll always feel loved, safe, and well cared for with a Cancer partner. Most Cancerian men make faithful, supportive husbands and kind, patient fathers. His relationships are well tended, and he’s often incredibly romantic, while having a great sense of humor at the same time.
Sounds like the perfect man, huh? Before you drag out your Crab pot, you need to hear the rest of the story. Cancer men are emotional. They’re ruled by the moon, and as the moon goes through frequent changes, so do the Cancerian’s emotions. He demands complete and utter love and devotion, and he won’t like sharing too much of your attention with friends, work, hobbies, or anything else that takes time away from him. You might find Cancer to be jealous and controlling. He’s a hard worker, and he’ll expect the same from you. He’s also a homebody, so if you’re a party girl, you’re wasting your time on a Cancer dude. Some signs find Cancer too needy, too clingy, brooding, and boring.
Ouch! Way too much truth in this description, especially the needy, moody, emotional parts.
I found this amazing tree on the beach at Pattaya, Thailand. It appears as if the tree had drunk once too often in the waters of the unconscious and in doing so, has lost its sense of self, its will to live. In the realm of psychoanalysis, one is tempted to explore too intensely the unconscious. The attraction of the realm that ultimately belongs to the gods of the underworld, is cloaked in the mystery of fantasy places and figures. One is tempted to drink their water, to join in their heroic interplay and if possible, become a godling. One risks possession by archetype, by the primordial energies that know no boundaries between right or wrong. All is one, all is none.
“Generally speaking, women have a better, more balanced relationship to Eros than men, for they are psychologically more likely to find the ministries of the god in varied venues. Men, having so often the god with success in their endeavors, are devastated by retirement, impotence of any kind, defeat or displacement. Sadly, they are more likely to drift into sadness, depression, substance abuse, suicide, compulsive sexuality, or seek some quick surrogate lover or diverting cause. Accordingly, they handle the death of a marriage or spouse, retirement, or occupational displacement poorly because they have lost contact with their inner soul life.” (Hollis, What Matters Most, p 52)
Hollis’s words have reached deep within me as usual and set me to wondering about how much I have yet to learn. I am blessed with my marriage and know that I would be devastated with the death of the marriage or my spouse. Somehow, I sense that I would survive the devastation because I have regained contact with my inner self, my soul and I have come to terms with aspects of my shadow self as well. I am not so sure if I would have survived it a number of years ago when my soul and life was fully placed in outer life and the people in my outer life.
The will to life is the mark of one’s relationship to Eros. There was a time or two or more in my life when Eros was absent, when the will to engage in life was numbed. I went through the motions as if I was in mourning – and I was in mourning though I didn’t know it – mourning for my own soul. I kept myself busy so as to avoid as much as possible being alone with my self, being alone with the darkness that seemed to crowd out feeling.
As it happens, between writing the first sentence of the last paragraph and the following sentences, I took a time out from writing to eat my evening meal and then do a bit of reading – Fire and Irises, a book by Margaret Nicol. Just a bit of background before I go on – Margaret is from the same area of Canada as I am from, the Ottawa area. Like myself, she has had a career that spanned both education and psychotherapy. We are also close to the same age. I will leave the rest of her story for you discover. The purpose of saying this much is simply to preface the next quote from her book and to say that I could have said the same thing regarding myself:
“From the outside I suppose I looked as though I was fairly ‘together.’ I was a psychologist and held a full-time job, which I did adequately. But that was the cover story. I despaired that I would never be normal and wake up feeling happy like other people.” (Nicol, Fire and Irises, p. 34)
Eros was absent, well almost absent. What I know now is that Eros wasn’t really absent as this god continued to be present though I was unaware of its presence. Teaching and counselling others, coaching, continuing with studies to try and fill the emptiness were signs of Eros’ presence, waiting patiently for me to wake up out of the blackness. Eros showed in the flashes of compassion, the time I spent listening to the fears and anxieties of others. I found the lost ones in my classrooms and let them know that I saw them, that I accepted them just as they were. I just couldn’t do the same for myself.
My dreams started to talk more openly to me about Eros, about a divine spark of life that was still buried within the depths, behind the layers of darkness. Not quite hearing clearly, I wandered through cyberspace connecting with ghosts of people, with the faint whispers of Eros that made its way into my poetry. As I wrote in my dream journal and my poetry, I began to paint the scenes. And then, I saw/heard/felt something beneath the darkness, saw a child that had been abandoned.
Reclaiming that child was a long journey, one that is still in progress if I am to be fully honest. Reclaiming that child meant awakening the darkness within which the child hid. The blackness had protected the child, waiting for the adult to have the tools and courage to peel back the layers of the darkness in order to reclaim the child. In the process I had to be both father and mother to this child hidden in darkness so that the child would believe that it was safe to come out of hiding, that it was safe to again feel. And in the process, Eros began to pulse in the adult. Contact with the inner soul had been made and a journey of transformation was begun.
I loved the geographical formations that I found in the Philippines. In a bay I found about six of these formations which were accessible at low tide but not so easily accessed when the tide was high.
It didn’t take me long to realise that this rock island was a representation of my self. At low tide, when the water recedes, the individual becomes part of the ordinary landscape, often becoming indistinguishable from the collective – an image of conscious life. At high tide, when the water surrounds the self, it is as if the self is being nurtured and fed by the unconscious. Through the work of the unconscious, one differentiates from the collective. The water caresses, holds and feeds much as a mother does this with a newborn baby. The self held in the embrace of the soul, in the power of Eros.
“Where a conscious relationship to Eros is not present, where men or women do not have modeling, permission or affirmation to this telluric energy, then they will suffer splits from their own guiding instincts, fell disconnected from the transcendent, and engage in futile but compulsive, searches for what is missing inwardly in the outer world. (Hollis, What Matters Most, p.51)
If one denies what is within one’s self, voices that seek to connect in dreams, in depressions, in numinous experiences, in synchronicities – one denies that aspect of self which feeds the self. And as Hollis tells us, we look for what is missing in others, in sex, in thrills, in extreme sports, in food, in drugs of choice. We ask other men and women to fill the holes in our sense of self, something that they can’t do no matter how much we love them or they love us in return. We need to learn to stand on our own, to become whole.
When we are whole, we can rejoin the collective, demanding nothing but giving freely and being present and serving as guideposts for others on their personal journeys of self discovery.
Yesterday’s post was “How do I get there from here?” Today, I want to look deeper into the question, narrow the focus which then forces me to change the question itself. “Where is here?” Without first knowing where one is, it is impossible to hope to find a way to “there.” Of course “here” and “there” are relative terms as one can only be where one is. This is one of the lessons I’ve been learning the hard way, the only way I seem to learn anything worth knowing.
I have always been on the move in one way or another. My father was always in search of something, always trying to escape a different thing. He wanted escape from his lot in life and wanted to live his dream. The only problem with this is he had never defined his dream other than not being where he was. This way of being in the world meant that as a child and youth, I was shifted from place to place and never quite found myself becoming attached to a place or people along the many roads and highways we travelled throughout Canada and parts of the U.S.A. I did however find a way to stop moving in terms of postal address for twenty years, the period of time in which I took on the role of parenting. I wanted my children to have what I didn’t have – a sense of belonging somewhere, a sense of belonging to someone.
Now that the children have homes of their own, I find that I have been travelling again, changing postal addresses though not at the same speed as I did as a youth. More than the changing of addresses was the return to unsettledness, the gypsy state of the spirit. Changing locations in Canada, and including Mexico, Costa Rica and China did not really allow me to find what was missing in being “here.” Visiting countries hoping for a light to turn on didn’t do it either. I only learned that the world was big and filled with people and that despite all the differences in climate and cultures, there were more similarities than differences. I learned that the answer isn’t out there, somewhere. The answers that I seek are “here,” within me.
It has been a powerful lesson to learn. I am discovering that I am at the centre no matter where I am.
I am sitting on my balcony in a little beach resort in MoalBoal, Philippines. The word resort is a loose term for this small set of accommodations along Big Sand beach. I had visions of an isolated set of cottages along a mostly deserted beach, an expectation that faded quickly with the first look at the site and then taking a short walk along the beach. Needless to say I was both disappointed and angry when I realised what the reality of this place was. In a way, I was almost expecting to be let down. I spent the night before flying out in Shanghai at the airport hotel that is located between the two terminals. My room number at the hotel – 6661. My first thought, the 666 was the sign of the devil. Of course, I immediately took that to mean that my unconscious was about to bust out of its container and make life miserable for me, leaving a trail of wreckage which I would then have to clean up.
It was at this point that I realised that I was hearing echoes of my own stuff, my own shadows rather than receiving messages in code from the devil. It all comes down to a point of view such as in this photograph. I took this photo because of the colour and because I saw the ripples in the water and the bubbles of air. The shell under the water appears to be distorted as if some crazed artist was trying to capture one of his nightmares, trying to capture the devil’s world. The underwater world is a different world when seen from above the water, a crazed out of tilt world. But, it really isn’t what it appears like. Going beneath the surface, safely beneath the surface, one sees that the tilt disappears as do the distortions.
The key is to make sure one goes under the water safely knowing that one is a creature that belongs on the other side of the water’s surface.
There isn’t a lot of detail to focus upon in this image and that is what I need today. Trying to find substance is not always easy. Sometimes each day begins to morph into other days, almost featureless and not worthy of remembering. I seem to want more than “waiting” for something as time slips away. Since we all have a limited number of days and hours to live, I wonder at the pointlessness of some of these days and hours. At times like these, even reading or listening to anything that has depth is avoided as much as possible. I find myself engaged in mindlessness, activities such as playing solitaire against a computer. And noticing my “wasting” of time I get angry with myself, telling myself that I should know better.
And in those moments, such as right at this moment, when I take a breath and become more gentle with myself, I realise that I can’t engage in depth all the time. All journeys must wander through swampland mud and muck where one feels the weight of low pressure and dullness pressing down. The swampland coats the lenses of vision with a fogginess that begs us to give in and go to sleep. And it is the refusal to sleep, the determination to slog on through the swamp, testing myself to be patient, to endure, that builds up a small pride in self. I discover reserves and strengths that had been hidden.
Lifting my head, I begin to see a bit of life in the swamp amid the detritus of discarded hopes and dreams, signals that there are hopes and dreams yet waiting for me.
This was taken along the shores of one of the river-canals that wend their way through the city of Changzhou. As I understand it (and understanding reality in China is not all that easy or certain), there are three rivers that wind their way through the city. A river doesn’t look any different from a canal from an observation point of view. Asking others who are Chinese gets mixed responses as few actually know the city other than their particular neighborhoods, even those who have spent their whole life in this city. This makes me think of how we only know parts of our own self, parts that are the easiest to access down familiar well-worn trails of thought and feeling.
I have been feeling both full and empty of late, a feeling that has resulted in me standing still and doing very little other than teaching my courses at the university. I have been doubling up on a number of classes pushing my teaching load so that I can take a week off in mid-November in order to take a sunshine and snorkeling holiday in the Philippines. I am looking forward to the warmth and the sunshine and the long beaches. I will have Internet connectivity so I imagine that time will be found in the evenings for posting here. As well as extra teaching, I have been listening to a number of Shrink Rap Radio podcasts that have a Jungian focus. The result has been a whirlwind of stuff floating within my head with nothing settling long enough so that I could find a calm period for writing here, writing with more depth.
Meditation remains an important part of my day that I try not missing. Sitting still, like this empty shell in the photo, brings me back to my core self, puts life back into place as things sort themselves out and settle.
I see quite a few men fishing in almost all of the canals that thread their way through the city. The size of fish isn’t an issue for these fisherman. What I would gently return to the water are kept in anticipation of good eating. Looking at the water, I have doubts that any fish caught in these waters would be worth eating. In spite of my opinion, the fish caught in these murky and often stagnant waters somehow feed people.
I really shouldn’t be surprised as most of the “rich” rivers that feed people around the world are murky. I have a prejudice that comes with living in a northern country with few people where river waters are often crystal clear. The prejudice that only fish from these cold, cold rivers are healthy is not based on fact. Fact has little or no place in one’s biases.
I should know better as it is in the dark and murky waters of the unconscious that I find nourishment for my soul. Being human requires an immersion into a messy life where there are no clear pathways to follow. Most times following paths carved by others with bright signposts to lead the way are paths that lead to sterile existences.
What feeds me, what animates me is not found in clear, clod waters. And it appears, what I find in the murky waters that are found in the swamplands of my soul to nourish my self is what I truly need.