Called to Dinner

Belonging, once so important, is fading with age. I want my belongings warm and fuzzy. If not, I abandon them. Younger, I would have stuck them out, but not to gain healthy introspection.  Back in the day belonging was born out of desperate need. As to where desperate went, I will save my conjectures for another time.

When in the process of joining something new, I engage in a memory of a past belonging. An almost forgotten scene arrives in my mind.  Not only with personalities, but with warm and fuzzy enzymes that provide the comforts of acceptance. So powerful  are these belongings that they can simultaneously feed my need for community and my desire not to be alone.

A most important memory of belonging is family.  When I was living at home as a boy and received an invitation to dinner, it is not the food I remember as much as the attentions from which I was called. I was most always engaged in a creative moment and it is these moments I bring back inclusive of the familiar voice of my mother saying, “Bob, dinner is ready.”

Offering me her best and on a consistent schedule provided me a time when I could be at the top rung of Maslow’s pyramid of needs. My needs of basic necessity well provided, I was not only fed in body, but in soul.

My mother, an excellent cook, presented an attractive table, inclusive of table cloth and cloth napkins. She always had a center piece which frequently included fresh flowers and lit candles. Our conversations were friendly and engaging. All of this I thought normal.

Unfortunately, puberty arrived  and upset our pyramid of needs. Normal was trumped by natural and for this my mother and I proved ill equipped.

Amina

Writing a memoir, especially one that includes exploration of the dark side of everything, including God, is hard work. It makes me want to go to analysis because I have begun to see much I haven’t see before. Stuff I didn’t even know existed. Amina is one.

Loren Pedersen writes, “the more in touch with the inner feminine a man is, the more comfortable he is likely to be with inner self-exploration. The anima, as a potential connection to his unconscious, may appear personified in his dreams and fantasies.”

When I picked up his book Dark Hearts, one that was leant to me, I had little interest. That was at the beginning of August. I am now the proud owner of the book and reading it at the fast clip of about two pages a day. No meat here. Hah!

Snoring Sully Sullenberger

In the AARP Bulletin, of which I am old enough to read, there is a conversation with Sully Sullenberger, the pilot who five years ago safely landed a jet on the Hudson River saving 155 passengers and crew.

Among his many experiences since, Sully was invited to Obama’s first inaugural ball. After being introduced to Obama, the President turned to Sully’s wife and said,”America considers him a hero.”

And Sully’s wife Lorrie said, “Well, the world may think him a hero, but he still snores!”

And that is what makes heroes real.

The Place In-between

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?

 

Listening

I didn’t bother to look back at my other posts to see if I have used this heading before. Listening, I think it is the most important contributor to healing our world. I also believe it has to start long before the listening of diplomacy. Listening at a diplomatic level is as essential as an other listening, but at that level the stress is so high that the risk of failure is much greater.

Robert Johnson in his book Owning Your Own Shadow writes, “You can give another person a precious gift if you will allow them to talk without contaminating their speech with your own material.”

Less of us can be a very good thing, but we must remain present.

My Column Today in The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

After you’ve confronted the dragon, comes the bliss

Annie Neugebauer graduated from the University of Texas in 2007. A favorite professor devastated her by asking why she hadn’t been in the honor’s program. A question posed even though she graduated with “highest university honors.” The professor thought she had taken the easy road and should have enrolled in honors courses. She had not done so because the regular course requirements fit her schedule. After much self-examination she concluded what she had done didn’t require someone else’s permission. She writes about her experience at annieneugebauer.com.

Having just experienced my own commencement in May, I resonated with Annie. During my 10 years of graduate school, I had two C’s. Both bothered me. The first one came about five years ago, and I justified it by thinking I asked for it. The course required memorizing. You might as well have told me to cut the lawn every day. It isn’t going to happen.

When I found out what the course demanded, I gave myself permission to just pass. Just passing for me is a C. Back in the day it is how I did all of school. Have fun, maybe show up for class, and get by. The new more mature Bob sought to graduate with the “highest university honors.”

I just missed. As others were called to receive their diploma “with honors” I cringed a bit. Then I remembered a question asked me by a friend when I told him about my C’s.

“Bob, what do they call a doctor who graduated last in their class?”

I thought about it, but had no answer.

Then he smiled and said, “A doctor.”

His words are how I got over the earlier C, but they didn’t get me by the more recent one. It was the grade given to me for a self-directed course. A course I designed to make up one and a half credits. I even picked the professor. Completing the curriculum demanded that I read four or five books and write a 15-page paper.

The professor gave me a C with the comment that my writing was not academic. He thought my writing sounded more like a sermon. I emailed him that I would like to talk about it. He acknowledged receipt of my email, said he would get back to me, but never did. The next time I saw him was at graduation.

After the diplomas were received, my class exited from the sanctuary. One by one we paraded past the professors. The last professor in the academic line was professor C, a man who has a perpetual smirk on his face. This day he looked particularly smirky. He said nothing, nor did I.

I left commencement with the issue of a C unresolved. It made the event less celebratory. It had me feeling fraudulent.

No matter that I spent 10 years in study and had a grade point average far exceeding C.

It did matter that I wanted this degree in part for self-esteem. Having not been an academic in undergraduate days, I wanted to prove I had the right stuff. For me this meant a report card unblemished by C’s. I wanted all my professors to think I was the greatest student ever.

It took just one professor to throw me off track. It didn’t matter that I didn’t want to be an academic writer. This was about confronting dragons. There should be a course on it.

Then again, I think there is. I took it.

Now its time to apply it to bliss.

Curiosity

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.

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