Sunday, November 1, 2009

Through the Door: The Story Writes Itself

"Sometimes exactly what you need walks right through the door."

I think the first time I heard this was in class with Dr. Allen Koehn at Pacifica. Something about psyche and unconscious constellating and, well, life living you. I knew what he meant (about counseling and psyche), but I never extrapolated beyond that context to anything else.

Until last week. On a particular day, I awoke impatient. I had a board meeting to get to that I knew would last most of the day, and I wanted to prepare. I ended up going early so that I could attempt a new surrounding as cure for this wretched mood o'mine. I sat at the table and checked emails, antsy as the rest of the members and staff filed in.

We started the meeting, and a man I had never seen before stood up and spoke, alongside his wife and daughter. He presented us with a check from his foundation, and we all applauded this generous gift. (We usually don't have guests to these meetings, so it was refreshing to see new faces.)

At some point, this man looked around at each one of us and said that he knew how difficult this reorganization was, how unexpected and challenging - emotionally and in every other way. He told us how important the work for children with special needs is, and how the future looks much brighter for kids and families because of this organization. He also rightly pointed out that even on our most difficult days, when we are frustrated, upset, and having to make hard decisions, that all of it is so temporary and achievable, unlike the experiences of many of our clients. And that people are watching, wanting to help, and rooting us on.

I know that everyone in the room was deeply appreciative of the presence and generosity of this man and his family. But that encounter was like a tiny miracle for me. I needed to hear it that day, above all, and had not known how much until this kind, smiling man stood there, speaking from his heart. All of a sudden, I knew that all the things I was carrying - including insecurity, sadness, pain - all of it was mine to eradicate. All of the toxic nonsense had to go, and I was the one to make it go. I was humbled, inspired, and ready to make room in my life for lovely things.

And so I have. I set apart some friendships that weren't feeling so friendly and some worn-out promises I made to myself and sent them packing. There was simply no room for any of it anymore. I caught up to the fact that at present my life is so damn good. My darling friend fell in love, another is published (again), and still another has recommitted to his own life seriously enough to pause, reflect, and be. Kindness, compassion, and courage all around me that I can see and reciprocate -- exactly what I want to build on from here.

I treasure such enriching experiences in my days, and the unexpected gifts that turn the world back around. I've had my eyes opened wide, and what do you know? I'm already on this gorgeous path, surrounded by the most amazing people imaginable. No need to search for what has already been found. Now to embrace, honor, and live soulfully in the world -- each moment offering opportunity for connection, growth, and joy.

It's high time to seize it all.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

October Day

Just adding this in, quickly, and updating between things on the list. I felt I had to take a bit of blogspace to post a little something else to the dazed reverie of an October day in Ta Town. Yes, I am in SERIOUS need of caffeine...

A friend wrote to me last night, in reference to men, me, and my purpose in the world:
"I wonder if you draw for just this reason, like a seashell, to the whispering of soul."

That may or may not be true, but I think that is how I seek to be in the world; that is the calling that lingers as I walk through the autumn days.

Maybe the key is just to Be, in the midst of the Becoming...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Just to Reiterate: I Believe in Love

Not a surprise, but as with all things psychological, mythological, and anything that strikes my fancy and grabs my attention, I start down one road of thought and others reveal themselves. I have begun reading the "Red Book," slowly but with concentration and zeal. And issues... First off - I am somewhat apprehensive about actually touching it. Secondly, it's quite a handful. Third, I go slowly from one part of the English to look at Jung's hand in German and back. It's a task. It's one I've craved in my soul without knowing it.

Call it the fault of academia or never getting out of thesis mode or whatever you wish, but other long-ago thoughts come to mind when I read lately. The inquiry into one thing leads to another, and there you go. Lately I have had trouble concentrating when I read, so everything I love to study is a struggle; writing is arduous. It's vexing and erodes my established sense of self. However, perhaps that is exactly where I need to be right now, as I set sail on this soul journey with Dr. Jung. I wonder if this is a way to revive and re-establish the notion of personal and collective psyche? Hmm.

Anyhow, some of the old stuff from my days at Mills College have come to mind lately. Who knew I actually paid attention in college? I remember a few years ago, reading "The Body Artist" by DeLillo for Myth class at Pacifica, and being reminded of Adrienne Rich's poem "Diving Into The Wreck." I adored this poem, and hadn't thought of it until the themes of love, loss, and bridging a sort of understanding between two people came up years later. Of course, that day we had Marion Woodman guest lecture, so the only one remembering anything about my anemic presentation on the book is, well, me.

SO, here's what came to mind again last night, and has transformed the meaning of my day, from Rich's "On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose 1966-1978.":

'An honorable human relationship–that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love”–is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying for both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.

It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.

It is important to do this because in so doing we do justice to our own complexity.

It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.'

I realize yet again how though I treasure introspective moments and the lush landscape of personal psyche, there is nothing like the aspects of self that are discovered, mined, created-- changing and flourishing-- when those we love really do walk that hard way with us. I only love as much as I find those who will love with me; I only inspire affection as deeply as those that inspire me.

Too much Aristotle (I'm sure) but I do believe happiness is an aim, a process, and an activity. The more I see of the world and experience treasured people in my life, I believe love is more than a stance, a decision, a lightning-strike. I wrote the words numinous and liminal earlier and I think love is so much nearer to these concepts, but still-- I can't get close enough. Love has its own avenues, landscapes, and languages. How exquisite to love another, and how my soul shines when I am loved in return; whether agape, storge, philia, or eros, I bask in the glow.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mermaids, the Red Book (and how!)

Oddly, I began by writing out the answers to the Proust questionnaire, which, as you can see, are going un-posted as of this evening. I'm not exactly sure what I'm doing now by writing, but in a time of transition, I've got to look to a mirror. At least a little.

Embarking on Year Two of living in Wichita: a place I've variously said I'll never live again; or, I won't live here unless married or with the most fabulous job; or (this time), only for three years and that's final. So it's not a love affair without challenges. In truth, it's way less than a love affair... more like a comfy marriage where you ignore the deep problems and make sure the yard is up to neighborhood standards. And take a lot of trips so you don't have to get to know each other that well.

My life here in Suburban Middle America is pleasant, mostly. I have precious little to complain about, and have met new aspects of myself over the past year that have surprised me. I am torn, sweetnesses. I left Pacifica a new girl: divorced, more sure of my professional self, deeply valuing my education and proud of my accomplishments. I've had some health issues arise but even these are short-lived and manageable. My friends who play tennis are happy to see me on the court again. I now have routines focused on being here and present in a mindful way, instead of "present" somewhere else. The Taurus in me should be thrilled, right? Right?

As some of you are aware, I started writing and researching mermaids several months ago. New Year's with Crystal in SB was a catalyst, as was a dream Kristi had about me living underwater. I knew something was calling me, and I had to pursue it after recurring dreams and waking synchronicity compelled me. Mermaids are actually pretty perfect for that kind of thing. Some days I feel really split between this person with business sense and practical knowledge (including clinical), and this other fringy person who wants to steep in writing, myth, fairy tale, symbol, and everything the unconscious has to offer. My days of philanthropy are spent in this action-packed triage mode of offering a hand with my sister's former preschool (special needs kids) that declared bankruptcy a few months ago. Am I helpful there? I hope so. I am certainly not a mogul, a lawyer, a banker, or a CPA. But I do what I can, every so often taking a moment to hold in my hands these photos of my sister from that long-ago time, reminding myself to be strong and keep doing my best.

So why do I come back so often to mermaids the moment I walk in the door? Who the hell in Wichita, KS, wants to know anything about that? Who wants to know about it ANYWHERE?

I've considered mermaids in different ways. From the viewpoint of the sea-nymph, from the view of the sailor at sea or spectator ashore, and from my own personal perspective. What might it mean to feel affinity with the depths and rhythms inside myself and others, armed only with a comb and a mirror, a voice and play? What does it mean to surface and long for?

I've looked for counseling work here, and so far have been met with strange looks, protestations that I am "over-qualified" due to my DBT/psychoanalytic supervision, and some who just can't get in touch with how my education and work hangs together in any kind of practical way. It has been discouraging at best. I've had times of hating this town, times of feeling very pitiful, times of despair, and times of going back through the tenets of all that we learned and studied trying to see what the hell and why.

There are moments when you waver, and times when you must let your soul speak, despite the consequences or further misunderstandings or ridicule. My inner Ayn Rand showed up in a debate I never should have participated in the other day, and I was informed that I was "stupid" by a person I've never met. Which is fine -- being underestimated is not new to me. However, it brought up even more dichotomy within me. I know part of individuation and growth is to live with the tension of the opposites, and embrace your own peculiarities and eccentricities. To know what you know and love what you love with no apologies.

I'm wondering if this is where the midlife crisis begins.

Anyway. I'm going to try a few things and see what works. I may not be 'landlocked' in order to find the perfect mentor in depth psych, but I can certainly add a few things to the collective discussion. I nakedly admit to anticipating the "Red Book" with fervor. I desire something soulful to touch me deeply again. Jung started writing it at 39; I'll start reading it at 39... I already know that by revisiting my old, beloved psych books, I fall back into the cadence and language I know and love.

I'm finding that this mermaid call is a much truer compass for me than the one found on the boat, much truer than consulting the charts. All I want to do is see the sun peer down into the shadowy depths. I want to sun on the rocks all day, combing my long hair, peering into the mirror. I want to swim with dolphins and sing to the sailors and if they follow me to safety or to their peril that is the chance taken. I want to wander the waves and arrive wherever I am meant to be -- uncharted territory or no.

And, most of all, I want to hear that song resonate within me, and sing it for myself (& for others who seek soul and meaning).

I appreciate your reading through the ramble, my dears.
Love and light.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Taking the Plunge

Oh my.

I have been wondering forever how to start this up again. I've missed writing this blog so much I ache! But, again, where to start, what to say, after so long and so much in between? Ah well. Rambling a bit may work.

Where the day takes us, yes?

On New Year's Eve, I woke up in the middle of the night, back in Santa Barbara. I awoke out of a dream of a mermaid and a compass. Sometimes I wake up with a phrase, very clearly spelled out for me. Then I research, and reflect, and wait for the layers to reveal. (I write all this from a sofa at Starbucks -- with a happy, caffeinated mermaid on the logo... uh-huh.)

One legend I read depicts mermaids as sort of protective guides for sailors. Think of that for a moment-- in the midst of a charted course that makes all the sense in the world, you may look out and see what feels truer than a map. An apparition? A trick of mind that plays on you in the night, in the vast waters? A voice that you cannot help but follow? Perhaps you believe it real, perhaps not, but the mermaid playfully points out your true course: an alternative route, leading who-knows-where. Do you follow your heart, your faith, and a call? Or do you go back to the rigid, the linear, the set-out course plotted by those who came before?

Here's the thing. I have been on this journey a while, flung between ports, and find myself back in the middle - surrounded by dry, flat land everywhere I look. The only sea around me now is in my imagination and my soul.

I listen to my dreams, and I believe I am called to throw away the clunky compass I've been handed. To follow my imagination, go with the wind wherever it takes me, and see that true north can be found differently.

"Waiting For Icarus"

He said he would be back and we'd drink wine together
He said that everything would be better than before
He said we were on the edge of a new relation
He said he would never again cringe before his father
He said that he was going to invent full-time
He said he loved me that going into me
He said was going into the world and the sky
He said all the buckles were very firm
He said the wax was the best wax
He said Wait for me here on the beach
He said Just don't cry

I remember the gulls and the waves
I remember the islands going dark on the sea
I remember the girls laughing
I remember they said he only wanted to get away from me
I remember mother saying: Inventors are like poets, a trashy lot
I remember she told me those who try out inventions are worse
I remember she added: Women who love such are the worst of all
I have been waiting all day, or perhaps longer.
I would have liked to try those wings myself.
It would have been better than this.
--Muriel Rukeyser

I am tired of waiting, looking off to that horizon.
My heart is my compass. My words carry me home.

All at sea,