A man that I visited in a nursing home had incurred two broken hips since I had last seen him. He is in his late eighties and apparently facing his remaining life in a room.
There is little about him that is downbeat. He is engaged. Not showing any sign of depression. His demeanor provoked me to look for weakness. Is he crazy, narcissistic, or just a good guy?
I find it easier to find fault than I do in praising him. He has undergone a rite of passage that I don’t think I ever will. I have come and gone into puberty, adulthood, middle age and now early old without any signs of evidence that I ever experience a passage of any sorts. Other than time passing. I feel the same as yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
What I see in him as some kind of psychotic disturbance might be me looking dimly in a mirror. How have I jumped from sixteen to sixty-six without recognition? This man has been in the military and worn several other uniforms, many with badges. Occupations I would have spurned in my younger hours. I wanted recognition but never thought of it doing it the way he did.
Life for me has been more a passing than an entry. Until New Hampshire, moving from one town to another. It is what I see as intriguing about Lee Child’s fictional character Reacher.
Rather than hold to his military exploits, Reacher seems to wander into new realms. Where others might be insecure, he lives one day at a time and becomes prominent as a go to guy, a guy we might ask about life’s meaning. He is a wandering monk. A monastery is his likely next stop, not a nursing home.
One man real, and the other imagination, which one would I rather be?
“All wrong.” Biff then added in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. “The man didn’t know who he was.”
I can identity. Can you?
My quest is to unearth my dark side and my angst is serving me.
Some mornings I feel like my walk is over and other mornings I am just beginning.
I need to be Harry and to have Hermine, characters in Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf.
Oh wait, I think my life’s partner was Hermine in an earlier life. Was I Harry?
James Hillman writes, “The place that analysis and theology have in common is the soul. But the soul is a ‘non-place’ for neither theology or dynamic psychotherapy regards it as its main concern. The one studies God and God’s intentions, the other studies men and women’s motivations, while the place in-between is too often left unoccupied.”
From Hillman’s book Insearch:psychology and religion.
In the Monadnock area of New Hampshire, we have group called Monadnock Area Psychotherapist Services (MAPS). They are a group of psychotherapists whose aim is to include in their therapy practice the place in-between.
How appealing is that to you? Do you feel an in-between place?
This morning I finished writing a story for my monthly newspaper column in the Peterborough, NH Ledger-Transcript. It had to do with dragons. The dragons that appear in our midst challenging us to pass. For me writing is one of the keys to getting by them.
This afternoon I returned home from work and was spending some quality time on our back deck when I noticed a dragon fly floating in our dog’s water dish. The dragon didn’t look like he was taking a drink, but rather drowning. I had seen one before in this predicament, but not able to save it.
This one remained alive so I tried gently pouring out the water, but in the transition one of the wings bent back. I went inside and tore off a small slice of paper towel. Returning to the porch, I slid the towel toward the dragon-fly thinking I could I slide under it. The dragon grabbed on right away and held as I walked it to a nearby table.
As I sat in a chair watching I noticed its wings had returned to their proper place. Suddenly, the dragon fly fluttered them but didn’t go airborne. I watched hopefully as the dragon wiped its face.
After about five minutes, its wings beat rapidly and the dragon took to the air. As the dragon lifted over the roof of our house, I thought I heard it say something, but couldn’t catch what it was. No matter, now I know dragons talk. This should come in handy next time I want to get by one.
James Hillman writes in Insearch: psychology and religion, “The ego, with its light attempts to ferret out causes in hidden recesses of the personality, searches for detailed childhood memories, promotes sweet sessions of silent introspection.
In Owning Your Own Shadow, author Robert Johnson writes, “Narrow creativity always brings a narrow shadow, while broader talents call up a greater portion of the dark.”
Most of my life I thought that avoiding my shadow meant success. Now I am distressed to learn how totally untrue this is. It is incredible to me that I have found in my writing a willingness to do just the opposite. More than a willingness, I have an almost panicky desire to dance in the shadows. I can’t get there fast enough.
I hope you learned to dance before I did.
I have never liked hospitals or nursing homes. Even saying so makes my superstitious side stand at alert. If I want the Red Sox to win when they are not, I go to my local post office where I know a Yankee fan works, and I yell out to him, “Go Yankees!” He smiles.