Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Rethinking the map I follow

One of Hollis's more intriguing ideas to me (see last post) is this one of map. Each of us is on a path, a journey; this is a familiar metaphor. But he takes it a step further and asks, "Are we spending time on our path with our own map or someone else's?" Are we using the culture's map of financial success and power? Are we following the map of our parents, especially if it's a map that they wanted to follow and were unable to? (Jung says that the biggest burden for any child is to live the unlived life of father or mother.)

Hollis's book is about being guided by our soul, the deepest, truest part of us, which, he says, wants something wonderful and expansive for us: the contribution that we have come here to offer to the world. And to do that, "the soul wants us to have the best map." Our culture doesn't support this in any overt way. I find that our culture needs us to stay asleep (aka shop, consume, ignore). This is nothing new, nothing special about us now in 2018. It's gone on forever. But I want to be one of the awake ones and I know somehow that my soul has been pushing me in that direction for a long time. Now I'm more available to listen. 

So what is that map? For Hollis, it's a simple question. Is this next choice, whatever it may be, going to enlarge my life and my experience or is it going to diminish me? This is a very interesting filter for just about any decision.


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Interesting ideas from James Hollis

I've been reading What Matters Most, a fascinating (although not always easy) book by Jungian analyst James Hollis for a course I'm about to take on deep vocation. Here are some of his ideas that I'm pondering. They might resonate with you as well.

  • Anyone with a modicum of consciousness is traumatized by the current world. 
  • Generally we seek comfort over enlargement, reassurance over risk, and seldom venture out beyond the predictable. 
  • Each day we are summoned to steer between fear and lethargy and to find our narrow passage onward. 
  • We all have to grow up, become wholly responsible for our lives, relinquish the search for the good parent in others, and stop whining. (I love this last bi

What matters most according to Hollis: "Having a more interesting life, a life that disturbs complacency, a life that pulls us out of the comfortable and thereby demands a larger spiritual engagement than we planned or that feels comfortable."

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The no-TV challenge

I've been deep in thought lately and shifting some things. It seemed a good time to challenge my friend Pam to a week of no TV. While neither of us is what we would call a big TV watcher (no daytime shows or commercial TV), we both get sucked into series on amazon prime or netflix. And an hour can turn into three very quickly. I've been justifying my longer and longer watching with the fact that I do needlepoint while I watch, something productive. But I'm still on my butt for all those hours and receiving rather than generating.

We both went into the experince with some trepidation (aka withdrawal). I hate imposed restrictions (tell me I can't eat or drink after 7 for a lab test the next morning and I'm dying of thirst at 7:10). But it was more that we were unused to thinking for ourselves in the evening. So the first two nights were uncomfortable. But then it became the new normal: deciding what I was going to do. Read? Write in my journal? Tidy up something?

In my list-making fashion I started one on things I'd been meaning to do when I had time. Well, now I had time--another two to three hours in the day. Most of the activities I chose were quiet ones and I kept it spacious. But I found it peaceful and satisfying. I'm now on Day 13 (my friend went back to watching on Day 7). It isn't a struggle now but seems more of a choice, which is what I was looking for. 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Ode to a Fifth Cat

Warm nights Josie
likes the screen door
propped open
She never ventures far
unknown trauma
in her young life
keeps her close
and the other three
of my companions
come and go too
when the nights are warm

Last night I left PBS Mystery
for a cool drink
from the dark kitchen
and as I crossed
the dining room
I saw a dark shape with tail
move under the table
and out the porch door
Thought it was
my tabby Sam
but he lifted sleepy eyes
from the Trader Joe's box
on the carpet

I moved then to the kitchen door
and she stood there
on hind legs
Her masked face clear
in the streetlight
I asked her politely
to move on
and after a moment
she trundled down the stairs

They eat kibble with their fingers
Raccoons do
And while I don't begrudge her
an easy meal
from an open door
on a warm night
we'll be keeping
the screen door closed now

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Rethinking what I live from

As I rethink my use of time in this transition from work-focus to the next stage, I'm beginning to rethink what I live from. In 7 Habits, Covey talks about the dependency pitfalls of various centers of life.What he says makes sense to me. If we live "from" our family, our marriage, our work, then when something happens to those things (someone dies, kids grow up and leave, we get laid off), our center crumbles and we are lost. But if we center our life on the principles that most resonate with us, they never leave us.

So one of life's important tasks is to consider the principles or values that most resonate with each of us. Maybe it's kindness or generosity, maybe it's faith or compassion, maybe it's truthfulness or integrity. A quick web search will show you a list a mile long. But most of us know deep down what our values are. They resonate with us when we act from them and our conscience pings us when we don't. So the shift is not so much in identifying them but in putting them at the center of our decision-making, what I call the filter.

Part of retirement from me is moving away from a work-centered life. In our culture, it's so easy to create that. It gives us identity, it gives us structure, and for many years, both as a professor and as an editor, it gave me meaning. But that's not so true any more, so I'm feeling called to reorient to values: generosity, kindness, peace of mind for myself and others.

What values are at the center of your life?