Thursday, October 30, 2014

Shadow Sides

Not all shadows are harmful. We each carry them around inside us, wherever we are, even at night. (Perhaps, especially at night.) Some would call them our subconscious. Others might call them our Angels and Devils. Most would acknowledge that we each have these unleavened, unfulfilled, unrealized wants and needs that drive us habitually to repeat the same kind of actions, over and over again. The shadow does not necessarily always follow. Often, it can lead.

It's the Jungian shadow I'm talking about (hereby made up by me as an A and C side, with a B and D underside of the self). It is one's Attractiveness and one's Character that another sees, (and that we somewhat see in ourselves too.) And if my A and C sides resonate with yours, we easily may make friends, companions, lovers. Yet beneath each of these obvious precepts lies the shadow, that which drives my subconscious, my B and D undersides. I may be developed or mature or insightful or perspicacious enough to divine much of my inner shadow-self, and thereby my B side may become Bountiful, instead of Bad; as may my D side become Dauntless, instead of Deathly.

Now, since I am the one writing, I get to create at will the terminology to explain the Jungian concept. His actual precepts are fairly easily understood. We have an established A side, and a usually somewhat hidden B shadow-side. The A is that which you see (and like, or dislike.) Her A is 20, blonde, female, articulate, and attractive. His A is 23, male, tall, educated, a stud, and keen for a date. And off they go into the sunset to live happily after ever. But, there's a catch.

Our B sides, the shadow sides, are not yet (if ever) unleavened, realized, fulfilled. The blonde did not have a daddy and always is looking for an older and wise(r) man. The stud happened to have a shrew for a mother and so is hyper-sensitive to the slightest of criticisms. And so forth.

Complex, ain't it?

Yet we can see that our B sides are not necessarily ‘bad’. We may find ourselves always wanting to be the very best we can be; always trying to prove ourselves; and always feeling insecure as a result of the lack of parental unconditional love. And the things we therefore ‘do’ are (and can be) so good because of it! Then too, we may find ourselves always shopping; needing more; cramming our spaces with things we really do not need; all because we did not receive these things as children; or they were taken away; broken by others; ruined. And though not ‘bad’, we do find ourselves overspending on things that might more readily have gone into something, well, grander than what we actually have, had we only saved sufficiently, or invested, but...

And then again, we can see that out B sides might be very bad indeed.

Like the man who killed the Canadian Mountie this month. What awful hole in him needed to be filled before he chose such an action? On scales of predominant sole-survivalist living; or feeling bound by family constellations and expectations; or feeling the self aggrandizement necessary to compete just to win; or feeling the pain-body of a cultural composition so strongly that the wrongs of history cannot be overcome; or needing to manage and dictate to others the ideals held within the self; or even of determining that everyone who does not think like oneself is an idiot; what great hole in this fellow needed so to be filled that he would choose to shoot up parliament?

Guy Fawkes bears a long shadow. So does Benedict Arnold. Yet we harbour shadowed ‘things’; he; she; they; and us. We each know somewhere deep in ourselves there is a want that may even become a need that we keep trying to feed, albeit but a nameless shadow that creeps and slinks and heels at our sides, whether or not in the full light of day. And we stand on guard, glorious and free, or not. Our shadows indeed may be beautiful, or not. At issue is our bringing them to light.

                                               [photo by Len Wagg as posted on Facebook]

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Death: A Deconstructed Construct

Other than the tag within the piece itself, there is no author mentioned to the picture-piece below. Seldom do I directly steal without attribution, yet all that any of us is arises out of the amalgam of that which went before and through us. And so to share:

Monday, October 13, 2014

An Atom or An Ant?

[In Afrikaans the word 'ant' is pronounced the same way one would say 'wall' or 'muur' in Afrikaans, ha! 
The caption reads: "I will tell you, but it stays between these four ants (sounds like 'wall')...
And 'idees vol vrees' means 'ideas full-of(with) fear', 

Dear Friend,
Good morning to you, from way over here.
Was awakened in the 5.00 a.m. dawning by something in my ear today. Jerked
up, bashed at my ear, out fell an ant, and not stopping to feel its fear i
crushed it and flicked it to the floor. Then i lay there in a state of
regret. Had i been more aware, less hasty, less reactive, i easily could
have rescued the thing and put it outside with its own kind. Would the
chance come again? And i realized that in such a microcosmic act lies the
significance of the future; the chance over and over for us each to do the
right thing, if we be but aware of what we're doing in the moment, step by
step. The size of our boots becomes the issue wherever we step, ha!
Then again, so many thoughts and words can just be chatter. It is good to
love without condition, expectation, even reciprocation; just to feel one's
being being connected to being. After all, being busy beings is so
Your friend,

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Piece of Peace

Happiness is not really what we seek. It is peace. The USA's "pursuit of happiness" as an end tenant might help one declare one's inalienable rights, but 'peace', inner peace, might more readily lead a constitutional adherent to wisdom. Happiness, after all, is so fleeting. And peace, within All, is independent of circumstance. Inner and residing peace (where one is integrative and accepting of all) can obviate emotional reaction, promote rational response. But let me not admit to attaining ‘the product’; glimpses are like shafts of light feeding a forest, and the journey is such that "these woods are dark and deep, and I have miles to go, and promises to keep."

Promises are words yet to make real. "He or she is full of promise," one might say, offhandedly, as though seeing something in the other as yet unleavened, unrealized, unfulfilled. (We are easily presumptions about others, if not of ourselves.) But to make a reality out of "I promise" is to establish one's reputation, one's honour, one's commitments. And how many promises have I not broken en route to here? You?

Broken promises. Yes, guilt, that enervating and debilitating emotion, can deprive one of the
light of peace. But to be accepting that the choices and actions of the past have led to this very moment, yet that one ‘would have’ done better if one were that much more mature, or more insightful, or more experienced, or less afraid, reactionary, impulsive, or more educated, more aware, more supported, more-better-er altogether, then one would have... Now, where was this all leading? Ah yes, to be at peace with whatever IS. Silly me! Idiot! (Shame, leave me now.)

Shame-based living is at the root of most things debilitating. It unnerves and makes insecure and robs confidence. It minimizes and castrates and calumniates. It trips up and hurts. It takes the subconscious back to an unwanted childhood and resonates with spite and villainy and greed and feelings of disgust, hate, envy, and laziness too. It judges and blames and seeks to excuse itself and makes a victim of 'me'. Yet shame drives one to be more than human too. When will I ever be good enough, do enough, achieve enough, have enough? When will I be loved and cared for, for just being 'me'? (Hey! Guests are coming, the house must be spotless!)

Authenticity and being real are hard won qualities if not nurtured by one's parents. Being too harshly criticized or beaten or vilified or traduced as a child results in learning to cover up or smooth over or outright lie. Untoward consequences are not worth honesty. Integrity and truth and even ethics dissipate in the face of another's anger, disapproval, disappointment. The psyche is too fragile to accommodate the moment, seeks to sublimate misdeed into the fault of circumstance, or another, but can hardly own up for the self. To be entirely true to oneself, let alone to another takes the practice of knowing that one is 'everything', and that all of oneself is every bit as human as the next person; it is the conscious exercise of preference and habits of caring and compassion and empathy and even morality that defines oneself in each moment, if not as a whole. But all around, evidently, there are "lesser and greater persons than the self."

Trouble is, other persons see oneself in a given moment. And if that moment is physically ugly, or socially unacceptable, or down-there embarrassing, or far too experimental, or in a lapse of judgement, or.... If one is not in the right mind at a given hour or for a day, peace seems far from obtainable. Peace comes in pieces. It certainly is not about complacency. Peace slides at us, even arrests us (albeit momentarily) in the light that filters through the forest of our contentions and meanings and doings and efforts and actions and achievements and thoughts too. Yet it is the pursuit of happiness that drives us. Still, when we feel peace with whatever our momentary circumstances we feel connected to the sense of being a part of the universe, indeed. Even in pain. For what part of everything does not belong? Now then, have a piece of peace to share? 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Burgeoned By Books

At issue is the memory. For what good the thoughts that pass through me other than that I make them useful, or that they change me, advance me, or give me pleasure? That last thought is the easiest to go by (and the reason to go buy, ha!) But books have their magic, and whether in the Bible or the attempts to capture Zen, we are caught up in their pages. Insubstantial air is given weight as thoughts are put on paper. Words become books. And we purchase the books and put them on our shelves (some of them only somewhat read,) for who can recall every sentence?

In Parksville's second-hand bookstore, a week ago, I leaned back in my chair while my eyes feasted. Thousands of books burbled. And there, in The Classics section, volumes of collector's series rested, awaiting their fate. So many words. So many thoughts. So many ideals and dreams and even (for some) so very many machinations for mankind. And so much yet to read!

My own library has been severely culled over time. And built up again. Whether on the fishes of Kariba or on the travels of Epictetus, I have a thing for books. Everything is interesting. But in the very many moves I've made over my lifetime so very many of my volumes have just had to be let go. For instance, there were some 20 or more of the John Jakes series of history novels; all of America's development, gone! And there have been encyclopaedias and history books and biographies and classics too, read and thumbed through and appreciated, somewhat, and now 'forever' gone.
Yet still, the addiction continues. (Even as I wait here in the car and type, and since Christmas is well, coming, my wife is back in that Parksville store, purchasing for me the two rare books on Zambesi once owned and signed by the High Commissioner of Lusaka!) And yet, despite the burgeoning walls of my own collection, I am still hard-put to pass by open boxes of books on tables, or second-hand bookstores, where old treasures lie waiting. And often it is worth it! For instance, for 20+ years I'd searched for the second of a three volume set by R.F. Delderfield, and last year it appeared in an Oak Bay second-hand book store, for a mere $4.25!

"I take great pride in never having read a book cover to cover," Professor John Futhey once beamed. I was in my late 20's. It literally (ha!) freed me. I'd marvelled at his recall, at his quotations, at his breadth and presumed depth of knowledge, and told him so. His eyes twinkled when he replied. Lovers of words and of ideas and of books, real books, understand each other. We have compassion for the reality that no one can possibly read everything. Any public library holds too much. But personal libraries? Well, even they can become extensive, full of the books one is going to read, rather than those one has already read. (Besides, many of my friends pass on their books once read, and have little interest in collecting them, or showing them off at all.) Admittedly, my books remain a source of pride; they reflect not only my variegated and prodigious interest (pompous as that sounds, ha!), but are symbols of my having surmounted the poverty of my youth, when to have a book, any book, was a rare treasure indeed.

Yes, my iPad and its kindle app allows for all of Shakespeare to be downloaded free. So too for all of Zane Grey. Thousands of classics are free. And hundreds of e-books are a mere dollar or two. But hefting a book, skimming it, and placing it back in a well beloved bookshelf is not an experience kindle gives you. For me Kindle takes away from that treasure hunt that is a meander amongst the shelves of a hole-in-the-wall bookstore, stacked to the rafters with the essential meaning of life. That meaning? That life is about the unexpected! And no matter what, when read, even though a book may seem as though made up of no more than imagination, it is very seldom free. Ha! 

Yes, I still shudder at the thought of the burning of the library at Alexandria!