Stand outside In your backyard on a night of a new moon. Preferably a cloudy night too, No stars, pitch black, dark
If artificial light disturbs the darkness go to your basement. Decide on which place is the darkest and stand there for a while taking in the blankness of its attributes.
How does it feel? Absorb the feeling. Is it one of peace or fear? What is it? Why is it? Which have you defaulted to?
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?
Dr. Quigley quotes Robinson Jeffers, “…take a walk, for instance, and admire the landscape: that is better than killing one’s brother in war or trying to be superior to one’s neighbor in time of peace. We could dig our gardens…We could, according to our abilities, give ourselves to science or art; not to impress somebody, but for the love of the beauty each discloses. We could even be quiet occasionally…”
Better than killing, so many alternatives. I chose writing. But still something needs to get me out of the chair. Used to be handball, tennis, baseball, now I do as Jeffers suggests. I take a walk.
Spiritual joys come only from solitude / So the wise choose the bottom of the well / For the darkness down there beats / The darkness up here. / He who follows at the heels of the world / Never saves his head.
Do you want to be at the bottom or the top of the well? I must not be wise because I would have chosen the top for reasons of sanity. I know it up here, I am trapped down there.
But the point is well taken, up here I am either tempted or coerced to follow the world. So I choose to be in the well of my head and never leave home without it. This way I can be me, but not too much.
Oscar Levant said to George Gershwin, “Tell me George, if you had to do it all over again, would you fall in love with yourself?”
It must feel good. Who am I kidding, it does feel good. Don’t all of us fall in love with ourselves at least once?
When does this become a bad thing? Ever? I suspect if done in excess it would be a problem. A constant demonstration of it and we would appear selfish. When is confidence self love? Can we be confident without falling in love with ourselves?
At least with Gershwin, the result is that most of us know who he is. But who is Oscar Levant?
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?