Category: 2014 A-Z blog challenge

Reflections Post

REFLECTIONS POST : 2014 A-Z BLOG CHALLENGE

A-to-Z Reflection [2014]

So many thanks to the AmaZing A-Z hosts and co-hosts. It was wonderful to receive your posts, encouraging us to see it through to the end. Thank you, thank you, a million times!

 Susan Schwartz, Jungian Analyst in Phoenix Az., and I in Johannesburg, South Africa, collaborated on this. Some posts were hers, some mine (see Susan Schwartz’s Reflections below). Neither of us is computer savvy and there were a few times that posts got lost over the air or I inadvertently trashed a few while adding images or editing. HUGELY anxiety making. My son Mike from a great distance was able to rectify this as he is the host of my blog.

 There was no slot for psychological posts. We wrote on Aging & Becoming. AC? No, not really. PR? No.  We’re currently writing a book on ‘Aging & Becoming’ and we thought that we would excerpt material already written. This was not the reality. Our posts were entirely new. We tried to keep to 500 words or less, knowing that 300-400 words was the ideal. Neither of us had any idea of the reception we would receive and we are extremely grateful at the number of people who commented and found the posts to be of value. Many commented regularly, many were brand new.

We individually hopped and commented around the list daily/nightly and left the link on those posts.<a href=”https://www.gardenofedenblog.com“>Garden of Eden Blog</a>. I’m not sure that yielded many comments for whatever reason. We always responded to comments on the Garden of Eden blog and reciprocated by visiting those blogs. There were amazing blogs. If I were to highlight only one, I would say Rosie Amber’s blog for her generosity of spirit in leaving 5 blog links for people to look at, daily, as well as her review of books – and this is a public thank you for her nod to my blog.

 Two posts I would heartily recommend for writing tips and expansion of ideas: http://www.melissajanda.wordpress.com & http://www.debioneille.blogspot.com. I will return to them.

There are so many I would like to thank but that would take up time and space. Damyanti and Guillie were always so helpful prior to April when I was battling to get the link up. Vidya says that when she tried to get to my/our posts she received “Error 403 found’ and was unable to check them out. This is the only instance I know of.

SPAM was a problem .. I reckon at least 8000 during the blog hop. Luckily Akismet spammed them. To date since blogging from approx April 2011, Akismet has blocked over 370,000. I wonder if this is from leaving tags on posts?

Many on the blog list did not ‘follow through’ with any regularity.

I am now following many more than before. How wonderful to have blogger friends from New Zealand, UK, US & South America! Thank you to those who are now following me.

I want to thank all of you, the hosts and co-hosts for yet another memorable April. And to all of you who supported The Garden of Eden posts, thank you so much. Your comments were wise and thoughtful and from them we learned much.

REFLECTIONS: Dr. Susan Schwartz

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.

Carl Jung

For some months now Susan and Susan have been writing back and forth on the letters of the alphabet oriented on the subject of aging.

As we learned, the beginning always looks different than the end. We evolved a process whereby we easily divided the letters of the alphabet and from then the flow continued. Each of us daily sat with and thought about the next letter of the alphabet. We added an image that expressed our words and sent to the other person to review. We commented or not on what was written, cleaning it up, adding or just letting it be.

We look back now at the experience and realize its value. Like aging itself, we brought forth so many surprising perspectives finding in them a freedom and widening of the lens. Life is full and we managed the unexpected with magnanimity. Aging helps here.

Yet, the topic of aging in general was a new one for us—each in our own ways and from our personal outlooks. The A to Z Blogging Challenge helped us organize thoughts and feelings and put them down in a succinct way. It helped us learn how to work together. It pushed us to produce and to be organized and to enjoy the product and the process.

   

 

Z – Zero

Z: ZERO

yinyang

‘Your whole life you are really writing one book, which is an attempt to grasp the consciousness of your time and place– a single book written from different stages of your ability’  

Nadine Gordimer

 Zero, a number that denotes what begins and ends. The zero is indeed a point, or a circle, or a dot on the page. But there is something of the infinite about it also.

In Jungian psychology the zero can be like the uroborous, the image of the alchemical snake that eats its tail. It represents the circle of life as we go round and round. We are old, young, in between and then we continually return. It is a concept of the infinite flowering, the seasons that repeat and the generations that evolve. It is our life in the circle game. We are all in this eternal return. The question is what we do with it.

And then there is zen, a concept that also encompasses all and a way of being that settles into what is and and acceptance of enough. In zen there is no need to strive beyond. Zen means meditation to achieve enlightenment. It is a practice set up to transcend reason, rational thought and daily life. It is one of the ways of centering and done while sitting. Slowing down and reflection come about as the sacred and mundane merge. Aging helps bring this about. Part is a waiting, part is awareness, feeling and not feeling the body and its sensations and reactions, being and not being in the mind.

And the zebra, what a lovely and unusual animal as no two have the same stripes. Like people, in packs, in couples, and some found on the edges of the group. How we end up realizing our similarities with the animals. The world they live in one of the magical and being with them, we experience life in other ways. This is similar to how we can move through the life stages and we wander through the wilds, negotiating the complexity of living our age consciously. Aging presents challenges and hits us on all levels, as we do not escape that we have lived, have changed, and are at a time of the endings. Our demons are more forward, our nature more defined, our losses more pronounced, and so are our loves and desires.

What else is there to do but feel to the depths the end and the beginning and everything in between as drawn in the colors of the rainbow.

Y – Yes

Y : YES
Y_lady Y_lady Y_lady

I can live alone, if self-respect, and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.

Charlotte Brontë

Is it youth or is it time? Is youth really wasted on the young? How to be wise at any age? Is it youth we pine for or is it time to do and to be? Do we take advantage of the years as we learn more and more how to breathe into them?

How often it seems that what happened, whatever it was, occurred just a moment ago. Yesterday and yesterdays blurred. Time slow and then fast and then gone. The conflation of time is strange as we feel young and old at the same time. We have no choice but to accept the years. In fact, how awful to not be accepting and to rebel against or devalue who we are and what we have attained. Certain things have to reflect the sands of time. Yet, there is such a struggle to let this be and be content that it is so.

The yoke to the outmoded becomes apparent in ideas about aging that deduce there are no possibilities, merely limits. This isthen followed by no respect for wisdom, superseded by lack, yoga positions no longer attainable, and yearsthat are denied rather than respected. The yearning for youth is another yoke, as if youth is the best time and there is no glory in the present day. How perverse and actually without truth is that?

And, the reality is that there is value to the years. In fact, we should not look, act or feel the same throughout life. No animal stays the same, nothing alive stays the same even to the smallest microbe, so why should we? After all, we live according to the nature and we are part of it.

The saying yes to age has to be and is a truth, whether we like to admit it or not.  We know this because we have aged into it. Why spend time yearning for what we cannot have and, in fact, could never be? We waste away the years and moments of the present if we merely pine to be another way or age or size or talent. Maybe the yearning is really to be all that we are in the here and now, at this moment. It is not manifest in things or achievements but in being able to deal with the anxiety and responsibility of our entire self. This requires a listening to the instincts, being a woman and honoring all the changes and advances, the limits and the expansions to body, mind and soul. With each limit comes the challenge to find another way.

What would the world look like as we said yes to age?

X – X-Ray

X: X-RAY

1016178_10151705693098293_1608481938_n

The truth isn’t always beauty, but the hunger for it is

     Nadine Gordimer

Who is the other within? How do we discover her/him and all her/him manifestations? Can we trust that we are more open to know more about these withheld, worthwhile and worthy aspects as we age? After all, we have endured numerous trials and tribulations, surprises and excitements. Yet, do we recognize all that we know? Is it even possible?

We could call the other, the shadow, the ignored, unknown, the qualities unused. They are arrayed inside asking for attention, wanting to be witnessed and seen, used, valued. We can see and feel as through an x-ray, all the layers gone, missing and those wanting more love and care. It can feel scary to take this x-ray into life. To look deeply, under the tissue of the day, to find the fabric of what we are made. It is a coming face to face with all the minutes, habits and years of how we have done this life. The task is immense. And, yet even the x-ray does not show all nor tell all. It is like a dream where we discover a certain interpretation and then months later another comes to mind and the dream makes sense by incorporating new meanings as they evolve through time–as our lives.

Like aspects appearing in a dream, we also finally find and confront what we fear from within. This refers to the parts hiding, unaware and unopened, those disguised and shadowed. A dark forest covers them and we have the possibility to peer into this if we are to release their energy. The shadows, like in an x-ray, could mean there is a disaster looming, something hidden behind. And yet they also are a connection, a link, between our conscious and unconscious existence. Being open to the x-ray unites the energy and increases flow, both inner and outer.

Taking the path inward accesses the mystery, the life force, the questions big and little gone unanswered–until now. Finally we are strong enough to wrestle the demons. That means also finding our value and valor to support this exploration. We have the chance to gain a grasp on these forces and complexes of unknown material rather than them having such a paralyzing grip on consciousness. This means one is no longer held hostage by the inner demons. Now, finally unhounded by the anxiety or inner terror of being or being seen, revealed as uncertain about how to proceed. It means honoring the ground under the surface, the unconscious listened to, this x-ray into the soul. Again, aging puts on our psychological doorstep the responsibility to round out what yet wants and needs to be heard from a wider and more inclusive perspective. This is hearing the soul, not the merely  the ego. Egos alone are incomplete and do not know the pathway to meaning and depth.

Do you ever wonder what your x-ray of your dreams reveals?

W – Wheel & Weight

W : WHEEL & WEIGHT

wheel images

Everything goes, everything comes back; eternally rolls the wheel of being.

Friedrich Nietzsche

I think of Sisyphus with his shoulder to the boulder pushing it to the top of the mountain – it would roll down and the task would be repeated, for eternity. No variation – just up and down, endless repetition. Such is the weight and wheel of life when one refuses to lift the needle from its stuck-ness on the record track and our lives are rendered devoid of meaning.

This time of aging makes it even more imperative to see where it is that we are endlessly repeating the same old wounds. The weight of those wounds want and need to be worked out and the load lightened. It may bring wisdom in its wake, even if only because they have been given attention as a way of not repeating a tired way of reacting.

Time spent in quietness, reflection and silence is not wasted time. It is time well spent, wondering about this thing called life and all it’s joys and catastrophes. What was – and what can yet be. To find the poetry in one’s soul that wants to emerge. To find what is deeply felt and meaningful to ourselves has enormous value even if we lose familiar parts of ourselves along the way. It is time to connect to one’s soul and heart and listen to its faint callings.

We find ourselves facing the winter of our lives and wonder again if there is water to feed our souls. Winter invariably seems dark and dank, dry and dead. Stark and grim is what we see above ground. Things lie underground, invisible for a long time. The waiting is long for anything to emerge, and we are impatient for the seed to emerge. But wait we must –

Many of us feel that we have no real worth – for whatever reason. Maybe this is the time to not only ‘wonder’ about this, but also to embark on ‘wandering’ around one’s self, as a healing circumambulatio, an alchemical term denoting a circling around, a movement to the essence through the indirect, the ambiguous. Walk on the edge and slowly circle in. This may be a painful exercise and only further confuse and confound and could seem as if the wheel is going in reverse.

Time to get behind the steering wheel and put your own gas into it and drive it the way you want, instead of being asleep at the wheel. Is it comfortable behind the wheel? Is it getting you somewhere? Is it more like a roulette wheel? Can we re-invent the wheel?

We talk about losing weight – is there a more constructive way of looking at this and rather wonder about ‘gaining lightness’? Don’t watch the weight being lost; watch the light growing..

Can you let go of some of the weight of the wheel accrued?

V – Voices of Aging

 V – VOICES OF AGING

Rumi

        Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I’ll try again tomorrow’.

      Mary Anne Radmacher

 Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, something is out of tune.

                                                            C.G. Jung

 Do we find a different voice as we age? I suspect so. From the first breath we take, we hear our own crying voice. Throughout our lives we’ve used our voice to express what we’ve wanted to say, even haltingly and fearfully. Though perhaps we’ve been silent on some issues for fear of reprisal.

We’ve learned much from the voices of sages and writers who speak their truth. The voice of artists whose expression is through music, painting, writing speaks to us. The sea sounds with its crashing waves. The wind sighs, its voice heard through the rustle of leaves. Bird song is lovely; sometimes lively and sometimes it sounds like a lament.

 Finding our own voice as we age presents a challenge. Not only for it to be heard in the outer world, but in the inner world in particular.

 What dialogue can we have with this inner voice? Does it lead to more questioning of its veracity? If we are non-judgmental about our voice within and really listen to it we may be surprised to hear its differing cadences. Perhaps another voice keeps on invading even as we try to drown it. Noise and chatter trying to quieten us. Who and what are these other voices that are trying gain attention and be heard? They sound strange and unfamiliar. We wonder whether we should pay attention to them … will they work for me or against if I act on them? Is this my voice of conscience that speaks to me? Is this my soul who speaks?

 We can give voice to our unique style, give it expression in whatever way.

 Can we voice our opposition to what is intolerable now that we are older? Even if the price is high? Can we know what we like and don’t like and have the courage to voice them? We can say no to violence in whatever way it presents.

 The veil is always there, with ourselves on the other side. It be a victory to pierce it to see what lies behind it. There are more valleys that need to be explored as we age. We would have to be vigilant about our attempt to go beyond our boundaries. We have the vitality as we age. Would we find a vale in which all our sadnesses and sorrows could be washed clean as we emerge from newly found insights about ourselves and our place in the world? A new image of ourselves –

Voting takes place here in South Africa in less than two weeks …

Do you listen to your own voice?

‘There is a voice that doesn’t use words – listen!’ Rumi

U – Unconscious

U – UNCONSCIOUSmiracles

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your 

             life and you will call it fate.

Carl Jung

Maybe aging seems so immense because it is an ultimatum that carries within it uncertainty. The answer is obvious. Time is limited, time calls us to consciousness, and the unconscious calls to us through our dreams. The world of our lives draws us to urgently attend to the unfinished and the undone. The world of ‘un’ or ‘not’ or not in this lifetime face us now.

And, we might be unnecessary, uncertain. Are we? This attitude can feel so disparaging and demeaning. Yet, this is in stark contrast to the possibilities we were unaware of earlier in life, the choices we made. Lingering regrets come into play. Wisdom is the knowledge what we could have done, why we did or did not and respecting the path we chose. Whether circuitous or not, it is ours and ultimately we developed within its winding ways.

We might see where we were and remain unconscious of how we use or don’t use the world that lies right in front of us. We might erect false filters and ignore what is there. We do not notice that older women are useful in the Western culture so oriented around youth and energy. If energy only insists on moving forward, it resists the speed of the slow and steady. We become lopsided in a one sidedness. Usefulness lies in how we honor our experiences, perspectives, knowledge and contributions.

We always want to receive messages from the unconscious, clear messages telling us what to do. In approaching the unconscious, this place that speaks the language of symbols, from such a narrow perspective, we miss its messages. They come in the obtuseness of a dream, the surprise of a relationship, the meaning in synchronous events. All these are messengers of the unconscious. Our task is to take the time and effort to listen, even if it seems confusing, overwhelming, mixed or something we do or do not want to hear.

In the unconscious, brought to conscious existence, we encounter the essence of woman – of self, of other, of place and position, of core. With age, even more so than previously, our lives are taking form and shape that we previously knew, as well as those we never knew. Always, the lurking of the old is there…amongst the evolution into the unknown.

It is in the unknown and unexpected that excitement resides. The mystery of life is just that. We are not meant to know how it will be. It just is and that might be the hard part to accept. And if we get stuck in un-acceptance we do not move and we groan and we let life go by. The difficult aspects of life are the ones that lead us into consciousness and an awareness of the depths of our soul.

We can look to the unconscious to give the sustenance needed. It is there all the time, if we choose to access it. We are at a time of the unexpected – illnesses, friends dying, partners as well. We might be drained and without the energy we formerly utilized. But then we also have to recognize that we do have energy, but differently apportioned. The lens through which we view ourselves and our world perhaps reposes in the unexpected. Our choices stare boldly at us. Challenging.

Do you examine your dreams to gain access to the unconscious?

T – Tolerable

T – TOLERABLE

soul2images

Anais Nin in answer to the question “Why does one write?”

“… It is a world for others, an inheritance for others … in the end. When you make a world tolerable for yourself, you make a world tolerable for others’. 

 Can we make a world tolerable to ourselves as we age? Do we have to struggle with ourselves at all times? Do I have to grapple with inner and outer to make things tolerable? Will that make ‘…a world tolerable for others’? Is it possible to be more tolerable towards myself? Can I come to a better inner view of myself, which by definition contains many worlds? So many, and so different to each other, yet somehow there are also similarities, even in their differences. So many shadings and shadows, unknown places where we don’t want to go.

 We know when matters are not tolerable to us. We feel unease, unhappiness and a sense of things not being fairly squared. We feel it in the workplace, in relationships, in the environment, in ourselves ..

 Are we willing to sustain the effort of becoming more of who we are as we age? Can we trust the process of becoming more tolerable towards ourselves? Do we know those parts of ourselves that are intolerable to us? We are quite quick to find aspects of people that are intolerable – but how much of this is our own shadow? We are quite adept in disguising ourselves to others, and thus, almost from habit, we become disguised to ourselves. This is intolerable in some way. Will I allow my vulnerabilities and my all too human foibles and follies to become visible to myself and thus to others, allowing them to see that I too am vulnerable, just as others are. Will that breach of the gap make ‘… a world tolerable to others’?

I want to know that when I face death that I have done my best in making my world tolerable to myself. I reckon to do this, I must bring those dark unknown aspects of myself that are strangers to me and thus fearful to me. I want to know my moral identity to some extent. There’s nothing to lose in this and maybe much to gain.

 I know that I have to take myself out of my comfort zone to bring all those disparate shadow parts of myself into some sort of unity so that I can truthfully say I know myself a little better. And if I know myself a little better, warts and all, foibles, follies, the whole catastrophe of myself, yet abide by truths (eg harm no one or thing), this then has value and may help towards making the world a little more tolerable to others.

I feel that if I can achieve this I may have added a grain of consciousness to the world.

Incidentally, I do NOT like the word ‘tolerate’ – I do not want to be ‘tolerated’. Or my race, religion or gender ‘tolerated’. It has a negative connotation.

Are you tolerable to yourself?

S – Soul and Sorrow

S – SOUL & SORROW

silence

give me
the labors
of everyday,
for that’s what I sing. 

Pablo Neruda

 The conjunction of soul and of sorrow is apt. It takes going through age and experience to fully get the ramifications of what it is to be oneself. We could say that in a stillness arising from accessing the sources within, a shift happens. We are composed of many experiences – the satisfactions and the sacrifices; the aspects that make for inner and outer security and safety; the secrets we keep from ourselves and others. We become self developed from doubt to serenity as the spiral of emotions courses through our being.

Life is a spiral, aging and the process of development, going up and down and side to side. We might feel solemn, serene, secure, stylish, subtle, with or without shape and definition. As we roll with these feelings, we might find ourselves like the serpent coiling and recoiling to the events of our lives. A sudden burst of spirit and being, a stagnation and sleep, a sacrifice and surrender to what is, are all elements of a day.

Soul is spirit and passion, compassion and passionate. We say someone is soulful when we catch their spark. But, they feel soulless in sorrow. The drain. The sadness, the overwhelming lack and the sorrow that goes to the bone. The soul cries and sobs. It is devastates. Sorrow reigns. Why? Why suffer so?

We ask what our soul wants. Do we ever know? Should we? Is the sorrow there to bring us into the depth of our being that we would never otherwise venture into? It is hard, just plain hard work.

Aging is a separation, even a sorrow from what was, how we were. It seemed unchanging before in prior years, and yet change, and we within it, was always occurring. All of life is a movement and a dying, like the sun dies in the evening and comes alive in the morning. This is an intense process that requires all the emotions and feeling of intense involvement. We cannot hide in the shadows, or merely remain an observer or erase the talents and skills we are meant to develop. We arise each day and sow the seeds of our being, all the more doable as we continue to develop consciousness.

The letter S must include the concept of the self, symbolized by the alchemical philosophers’ stone composed of silence, spiral, substance, soil, seeds, suffering, sacred and many more attributes. It is beyond the everyday world yet includes that world. It is the beginning and the end. The self as a concept in Jungian psychology means a spiritual approach to what it is to be a woman, what it means to live to the fullest, how we best express and most fully are known and to know others.

Perhaps surrender, true surrender is a task for this older time of life. Is surrender sorrow? Or, is it connection with soul on a profound level that takes our life into un-presumed directions. It is possible that it is only at this later stage that we begin to ask the questions , the real ones and these include soul and sorrow.

Is sorrow part of your soul’s journey?

R – Rebirth


R – REBIRTH

butterfly

 There is no pleasure without a tincture of bitterness

 Hafiz

 In the midst of the word rebirth, I want to add something about reverie, an inner place that deeply feels and looks and holds both inner and outer conversations with oneself. Like an inner coming to meeting, reverie is integral to the rebirth. It emerges out of death and loss. It also means holding another in one’s mind. It can refer to holding ourself from within. Reverie and rebirth are aspects of a creative process that builds on itself. After all, this time needs reflection. What is required and what is wanted.

And, it is interesting that the opus of many people is completed or even begun at this time of being older. It can take a long while to emerge into the real being and who one really is. It takes courage to have the resolve and resolution to go for it. This occurs not in a driven way, but in a way reflecting the recognition that rises from the authentic self.

 I also want to add to this the words ‘re-membering’ and ‘recall’ and ‘reconcile’ – with self and others. Age can be fructifying and bear the fruit of this later season. Through the process of recall we remember what we wanted and needed. We bring forward the dead branches for trimming to get to the essence – like pruning the roses in the winter even when they are blooming so fully – at least in the southwest of USA. This means that their beauty is cut down but the rose remembers and it will bloom again. Another rose will come forth and so on in the cycle of what it is to be a rose. This cycle is quite true for us as well. We bring back our old dreams and wants and needs and refresh our relationships, till their soil, make happen what we gave up and repressed. The renewal that comes from the old coming forth again is the fertilizer that nourishes.

And, these words – remembering … re-membering. It’s interesting that words takes on two different meanings when so put. Like response and response-ibility. Strangely they also are part of rebirth. The ‘re’ part is what is so intriguing – putting together aging and new growth. So often these are condemned – yes, such a strong word – but the feedback about desires that bloom in older age is often couched in words of too late, do not plant that garden or get another dog or begin that book as will you be able to take care of it? Will you get ill or are you strong enough to see it through? Why all this disparagement about life when it should be blooming all along the way. No matter, as long as life still is, the ‘re’ part needs attention. It cries out to be acknowledged. The birthing of each day, the setting of the moon and the rising of the sun are small rebirths that we can daily note. The daffodil coming forth, the new recipe and page we have written. All parts of the rebirth in aging.

 And, last of all the feelings of resistance and the power to paralyze.

Do you have that sense of re-birth and reverie as you age?

Q – Quotes and Questions

Q – QUOTES & QUESTIONS

circle of life

 He explained to me with great insistence that every question possessed a power that did not lie in the answer (italics mine). Elis Wiesel (Night)

  Why do people always expect authors to answer questions? I am an author because I want to ask questions. If I had answers, I’d be a politician. Eugene Ionesco

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song. Maya Angelou

 Quest is at the heart of what I do – the holy grail, and the terror that you’ll never find it, seemed a perfect metaphor for life. Jeanette Winterson

The quest for riches darkens the sense of right and wrong. Antiphanes 

I like quotes; many quotes contain unstated questions within them and therefore remain open to the reader to digest in any way they wish. For me, it is not important to ‘understand’ the viewpoint being expressed because that is limited and fixed and closes it. What I appreciate is that the quote opens me up in a way not experienced before. It may be a pang of recognition; I may disagree yet see a grain of truth expressed; I may see a great truth succinctly expressed in a few words and I feel my thirst quenched.

I like subversive quotes that have a flavour of anarchy or nihilism and disturb my peace of mind. Helen Rowland: Love, the quest; marriage, the conquest; divorce, the inquest.

It’s apt that the word question contains ‘quest’ within it. Our quest in life ends only when we stop asking questions – about who we are, our place in this mystery of life as we experience it with all its up and downs.

The more we listen and learn from our experiences, the more questions we have as we continue the quest to know ourselves and our place in the world better. There are no certainties in life (besides taxes and death – and aging). Certainty is too fixed and allows for no room to manoeuvre. Uncertainty and ambiguity never ends and is the magic ingredient that assists us to continue unfolding and becoming as we age. We may not know our destiny with any certainty; how limiting it would be if we did and would quell the mysteries of life.

Artists of all kinds and throughout all times have a quest to better describe the human condition.

The question invariably leads us somewhere. Some say that part of the ‘answer’ is in the question. Life always brings up questions, and the only foolish question is the one that is not asked.

Do you ask yourself questions about how you are living and aging?

P – Path

P – PATH

attention teacher

Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.
C.S. Lewis

This time of aging is a time of preoccupation and paying attention. The paradox is that it is a paradox. Feeling the time constraint, do possibilities really become limited or do we delude ourselves and use this as an excuse? Is this line of reasoning not at peril to the personality? The development of self has no time limit and is lodged more in the sacred space than the profane one. Our lives continue to have purpose, even when we are depressed, in despair, feel lost and unable to find the path. Like any stage of life, as we age, we have the possibility of progression through it or the choice to be overwhelmed and succumb to the emotional conflicts and distress. Our projects and activities mean keeping an active dialogue with the unconscious and using it as our guide. There are so few guides given about aging and its process of unfolding and becoming. We could consult our dreams…

 What are the priorities now? They change as life does; and moves with the rhythm of our existence. We want to take pride in where we are and what we have done and plan to do. We want to use the present to reflect our persona with a connection to the depths of our being. We do not want to be bound by what ‘should’ be but by how we are, really and authentically. Our sense of self is more definite now, just like how we have definitely developed a certain preference for our coffee or tea.

 We are on a path. It has twists and turns and each day and each moment we select this one and not that. We are limited and expanded at the same time. One moment we are private, passive, personal and protected and then at another, public and seen.  One enhances the other. The path alters but in honesty we will prefer this over that. In time we are what we have chosen. The path defines us as much as we do it. In a way it is a relief to narrow the choices and be a specialist.

And, our path also holds surprises like when we post-menopausal women, older than the age of fertility, dream of being pregnant. Actually, it is not uncommon for many women after menopause to have dreams of pregnancy, giving birth, caring for children, breast feeding. Of course this makes sense, as inner creativity, or new birth, is not contingent on having an actual child. It is representative of potential that continues through the life cycle if we remain true to our fate and live with consciousness, in the flowering of our being.

 Lastly, in order to do all this, we have the gift and problem of patience. Patience is a hard road. It makes for slow travel, minute attention, personal reflection, feeling. It is a requirement and a form of glue for the rest to work. Nothing happens fast anyhow. Why is this so hard to practise? Transformation and fulfilment is beyond age and time. Patience transcends both as well. The development of our psyche is unending and just keeps on going. The path is made more palatable with patience.

Are you patient on your path?

O – Obstacles and Obstructions

O: OBSTACLES & OBSTRUCTIONS

soul

I’m interested in people who have to overcome obstacles, people who are not sheltered by the umbrella of the establishment, marginals.

Isabel Allende

As we age, obstacles and obstructions are prevalent and harder to bear. We trip over a blade of grass or slip on wet ground and our healing happens slower. Our partners and friends die … We’ve stiffened our spines before yet, paradoxically, made them more flexible; and continue to do so as we observe and digest and make our way through this particular stage of our lives.

We hit brick walls which cast their shadows  –

Leonardo da Vinci ‘Shadow is the obstruction of light … necessary …’

 Life continues to throw us slings and arrows even as we age and as they have throughout our life span. We feel at times as if this ‘opposition’ will never lessen and we will never be free of it.

Obstruction – of justice; fallen trees in the road; burning tyres on roads in protest of bad service delivery; our work colleagues obstruct us in some way; our partners oppose or friends ostracise us; ideas meet opposition; we find something objectionable in what so-and-so said or what we ourselves feel ..

Obstacles – can they be stepping stones as we tackle and manoeuvre through them? We learn how to manoeuvre around obstacles and obstructions with our knowledge gained as we age along the way. We know that each manoeuvre will be different to the last. Each experience and manoeuvre brings forth a new attitude, a stripping away or an adding on.

 The lotus flower emerges so beautifully from the mud (its natural and fertile habitat) and its petals open slowly one by one, a thousand of them.  We can be like the lotus flower emerging from the mud of our past and present obstacles and open, one by one, like the petals, in the moment, as we learn to live with ambiguity, uncertainty and paradox.

 ‘Certainty’ has no movement; uncertainty allows for possibilities of the unknown.

We can write about the mud, dance about it, paint it, cook it, heat it up, shape it, observe and engage in it, wonder about our reaction to it and how we overcame it, what opportunity actually arose from being in the mud.

 We can be like the orchid, which can even thrive on neglect; sometimes it needs dryness. Yet, it needs an occasional drop of water to feed it. We can add that drop of water to what has been neglected within, and let ourselves continue to blossom, until we fall back into the earth, to be renewed yet again. Like the rose that in order to be complete, has and needs thorns on its stem.

Do you think shadows can provide stepping stones? Are we sometimes our own worst obstruction?

 

N – Now

N: NOW

time-clock-7506372

                        There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you. 

    Maya Angelou

 Now is powerful and loaded, heavy with the limit of the day and yet contains a fullness with its possibilities. Now is ripe. It is juicy. You can feel it to the bone.

 And, while it should be easy to stay in the now, it is not so. Being present is so very difficult. The now requires being in touch with the truths of our nature, living like the animals and in the moment of the current need, desire, want, fulfillment. Compulsions, drives, ego satisfactions are actions that often take us out of the now. Striving for outer achievements, hiding real desires, doing it for adulation, money or just to be perfect do so as well. (and thus take us out of the now)

 The word ‘no’ narrows the world. The stress of not living or living in a state of nothingness and the unnatural, plague us too often and then fill up the now. The no to the present moment usually is based on some past upsets or future anticipations and these erase the present. Then, all feelings are vanished.

 The ‘no’ to now implies conflict and can lead to numbing, behaviours of denial and distress, and essentially cause an avoidance of being. We lose the ability to note the need of the present day or the psyche, or the need of personal fulfillment. ‘No’ too often arises from fear and transposes into a deprivation artificially imposed. It is not a matter of merely saying yes but understanding more about what is going on beyond the limits imposed by ‘no’. This means getting into the complexities of the now.

Yet, to get there we go through what is called the stage of the nigredo, an alchemical term denoting the darkness, the shadow, the mud and the promises held within that we do not see – yet. It might feel nightmarish to confront this darkness. We back away. Yet at the same time we are faced with the task of going through anyhow. These are now moments that contain what we fear or do not want, the spooks in the nightmares that knock on our psyche and want our attention. These jolt us out of numbness and lack of reaction. They catapult us into life. We need the shocks to become awake to the time we have that is the now.

 Reminds me of walking the mud on Mt. Kilimanjaro. This was a physical nigredo, the dark of the earth while traversed in actuality but also within the psyche. It seemed impossible. This was a going down, sliding in the mud, not able to find a footing, unsteady and yet having to negotiate all the unease, unsteady and unsupported except by an inner something that would guide down the path. This can parallel the time of aging for some women, the unsteady, uneven sometimes on our feet, the plowing through step by slow step as the only way to do it, no rushing, feeling each moment and having the pleasure or the forced necessity of being so present that otherwise our footing is lost.

 We are no longer run by something, as and if we are present to it. We can identify through the being conscious of the now. What a relief to be in the moment that clarifies the needs of psyche and soul.

Do you appreciate the now?

%d bloggers like this: