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Horse Sense


When I was a toddler after World War II, my parents and grandparents and I moved from the farm into town and I lost some important animals that hadscan0002 been my only friends. I’d had a special bond with the huge and gentle draft horses, Pete and Fred. I would stand and gaze into the shadowy depths of their patient brown eyes, transfixed, sinking deeper and deeper. Sometimes Grandpa would lift me up to one of their damp, sweaty backs while they calmly munched their suppers in the dusty sun-striped gloom of the barn. The hair was itchy scratchy on my bare legs; my fingers gliding over it raised a distinctive damp-dusty odor. I had a panoramic view that was unavailable to me from the ground. Pete and Fred were sold to the sawmill. I never got to say goodbye.

When Grandpa’s old black car was new, all new cars were black. This car 1928-buick-buick-town-broughamtook us from the farm to town. Our new 80-year-old farmhouse at the encroaching edge of town was tucked into a grove of graceful maples emphasized by one frumpy cottonwood. Behind the house sagged a small, white barn, its peeling paint appearing to be shadow play cast by a huge, gnarled elm. Like many very old people, the barn had a distinctive musty smell. The odor of aged finely powdered dirt combined with dry, decayed old wood hung on the dust motes constantly drifting in the pale stripes of sunlight that wavered and shimmered through the cracks in the warped siding. This decrepit yet dignified building received Grandpa’s car. Here it stayed because Grandpa soon gave up his driver’s license.

Neighbor kids and sisters came along and one day we discovered the car. There it sat, in splendid isolation except for the company of a rusty old hay rake. TheRake Royalty Free Stock Photography barn became our playground, deceptively shady cool in the heavy summer heat. The irregular beat of a dozen small bare feet raised puffs of powder from the dirt floor. Storms of motes toured the barn, whirling through each sun stripe in soft violence, to finally subside quietly onto the car when we left.

Dust on the high front bumper yielded to our scabby knees as we clambered up and over the bulging front of the teardrop-shaped fenders; the chrome of the big, round headlights regained a streaky shine from our sweaty hands. We’d savor the pleasure of sliding down the slope of the fender to the running board, then gleefully scramble back up the fender. Leaning against the windshield we’d grin the savor of accomplishment, sweat creating crooked trails on our dirty faces.

With bated breath and a sense of daring we’d finally undertake to crawl to the top of the car. Staying carefully in the center we would survey the dim reaches of our dusty kingdom, a panoramic view not available to us from the floor. We were always, always careful of the rounded edges of the roof. It was a long way down.

The center of the top where we huddled was lumpy yet smooth, like boiled eggs covered by thick black oilcloth, a flexible non-metallic material that sagged gently under our weight. Shortly before my father’s death we reminisced about the car. He told me that the roof had rusted thin and leaky. With wartime frugality and ingenuity, Grandpa had patched it with layers of canvas and tar.

The interior of the car held a mysterious and private fascination for me. As Tuning In Stock Photoothers jostled to see who would get to stand at the steering wheel and “drive” through the sleepy town, I scrunched into a corner of the dusky back seat, reaching for something dim and barely felt. Eventually the others would go outside to play some more sunlit game.

I was alone. The back of the hard seat loomed over my head; the worn, dark upholstery was stiff and scratchy with horsehair stuffing. Shadows layCute girl sleeping in car Royalty Free Stock Images deep and thick on the floor. Gazing into them produced a strange feeling of sinking, sinking, transfixed, into great depths. A faint yet distinctive dusty odor, similar to but different from that of the barn, pervaded all. In late summer’s heavy humidity the smell strengthened, with a strange animal feel about it, patient, ageless, a memory of unknown things remembered.

I’d sit still, still, hardly breathing in the hot breathless air, eyelids drooping in Horse eye Stock Photosconcentration. Slowly, lightly, I’d glide my fingers over the scratchy surface of the seat, raising a dusty smell that felt familiar, a faint, far off echo just beyond the edges of recall. Eventually I’d get restless from inactivity and the sweaty itchy scratch of the seat against my bare legs, yet I was reluctant to move, feeling very close to…something, unwilling to leave it. I was sure that if I sat still just a moment longer I’d find it. But I never did. I always moved. But I never said goodbye.

The Shadow Knows


Have you ever noticed the power we give to shadow? 

I mean, we "cast a long shadow," or maybe we "stand in the shadow" of Tree Shadow Stock Imageanother.  Perhaps we’re exhorted to "always face the sun and you cannot then behold the shadow," as if it’s something to be feared, avoided.  Portents of the future may be "foreshadowed" by certain events.  We can be comforted in our travails when we’re told that "the brighter the light, the darker the shadow."  In psychology we’re often told that we must bring what’s in our personal shadow into the light of our consciousness, that what’s hidden in there can run and control our lives without our being aware of it.  Now, that’s power!

Groundhog scared of their shadow Stock PhotographyAnd yet, a shadow is insubstantial, it’s nothing solid at all.  How can something so wispy have so much power?  Shoot, we even give power to control our weather to a groundhog that sees or doesn’t see his shadow! 

What is it about shadow that so fascinates us, so captivates our awareness – or lack of it?  We might seek the shadow under a tree on a hot summer day and sigh in relief, or we might move out of the shadow on a chilly winter day and sigh in relief.  Same shadow, same response, different meaning.

At the same time that shadows can sometimes be seen as beneficent, Fear, fright, shadow on the wall Stock Photowe also tend to avoid them if we’re walking down a dark and lonely street late at night.  They make us nervous.  Who knows what’s in those shadows?  "What evil lurks in the hearts of men?  The Shadow knows!"

We shadow someone when we follow them without their being aware of it.  A shadow has the same shape as the object that causes it to be cast but it’s distorted, and at noon, it may be barely visible at all except directly beneath our feet.  Shadows can dim our sight as well as reveal something that’s creeping up behind us, at least if we’re standing just so.

Perhaps it’s this shape-shifting of shadows that amazes us, amuses us, frightens us.  They show something familiar and yet not the same as that with which we’re familiar.  It’s the unknown, the different, that gets our attention, Superhero Shadow Royalty Free Stock Photographythat makes us wonder.  Just which is "real" and which is not? 

That’s the power of shadow.  It makes us wonder, it makes us think, it gives us pause, it instructs us, it hides things from us.  What else in our lives can do all this, has such power?  The shadow knows.

Both Ends of Life


Alice sat on the bench with a weary but satisfied sigh. She looked around at the lush growth of the surrounding garden. The sun warmed her wrinkled face even as the slight breeze moved the humid air against her arms with silken coolness. The contrast was quite pleasant.

As she quietly waited for her breathing to return to normal she noted the rose bushes that were going to need pruning before too long, the mint that was rapidly spreading in the shady area off to her right, and the Artemisia that was at least four times as big as it had been when she’d put it in last year. The mild winter had been good for these plants.

The life force bursting in them was hard to resist. At the same time their disparity with her own waning energy sometimes exhausted her. She loved it all. There was nothing like a meditation garden to emphasize the continuity of life, especially as a person neared the end of one’s own.

With her pruning shears in one hand in her lap and her cane in the other beside her, she tipped her weathered face to the sun and with closed eyes drank in the warmth. The dampness of the morning dew was barely dry and the heavily humid air was redolent with growing greenery.

Suddenly she sensed someone else beside her. She lifted her head and turned to see Janet seating herself on the bench; nothing but the slight whisper of her small muffled footsteps on the pine needle mulch of the path had revealed her presence.

They smiled companionably at each other, the old lady nearing the end of her life, the young girl still moving toward her maximum fruition. In spite of their age difference they recognized in each other a kindred soul. Alice reached out. Janet softly laid her unfeatured young hand in Alice’s age-spotted one and Alice gently patted it with her other hand. Then the two of them as one, like paired sunflowers, leaned back and turned their faces to the sun. With eyes closed in bliss they shared the invisible nectar raining down from the clear blue sky.

They sat that way until Alice’s hand grew cold and stiff. The smile never left her face.

Dancing In The Rain


This month, reminding me of April showers, was slow to take hold for me but iDancing in the rain Royalty Free Stock Imagest eventually led me to remember this great quote from Vivian Greene: “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning how to dance in the rain!”

Growing up in northwest Ohio farm country I never learned that one could dance in the rain. Rain was something one hurried to get out of. It seemed, from my perspective, that we had storms more than gentle rains, though I’m sure the farmers were glad of gentle rains that must have occurred.

I have only vague memories of my childhood there; counselors and psychiatrists could probably make much of that. Most of those memories are colored by grayness, whether a result of the usual (as I remember) humidity and grayness of clouds and storms or, more likely, a chronic depression that I suspect is normal for living there. Several years ago my therapist told me I had dysthymia, which is chronic depression. Whether related to personality, personal chemistry, or situational conditions I don’t know.

Liquid gold background Royalty Free Stock ImagesEventually I went to Florida to serve my laboratory internship. I’d never been below the Mason-Dixon line before and I was stunned by the light and sunshine there. And the rain. It rained every day for varying lengths of time, usually not for long. I was told that was standard for summertime. It was also the first time I’d ever seen it rain when the sun was shining. The locals got a kick out of my amazement and told me it was liquid sunshine. I believed them.

Then I went back to Ohio and everything was pretty much gray again. Well, I lived in Cleveland then and with all the stone buildings, gray was about the only color they could have. But after a couple of years I got married and after a couple of more years ended up in Texas. So much light, again! And after fifty years here, now, I’ve discovered that even light can be oppressive in excess.

But I also discovered liquid sunshine again. Now that’s the kind of rain that’s made for dancing. Not that I ever did; I don’t dance and never have. But I can recognize dancing weather when I see it. And I just saw it the day before yesterday. It’s been quite some time since I noticed it. I don’t think it’s been the only time it occurred, though. It’s just that something is very slowly and gradually changing in me and the ability to notice such things is growing in me again.

I may not dance – canes and wheelchairs are not very amenable to dancing –Hammock in the rain. Royalty Free Stock Photography but my spirit can dance and it did when it saw the light come out after the storm, followed by raindrops on the patio. I’m grateful for whatever is changing, when the grayness of the past few years, when I struggled and lost the struggle over and over, is lifting. I’m grateful and I believe gratitude brings the lightness of dance with it.

Burn, Baby, Burn!


Things have been awfully hectic since I last wrote. Tony got some pretty significant chemical burns at work a couple of weeks ago. His right leg and arm, got it the worse, and a couple of lesser areas on his back, spots on his hands. When I saw thSkin burn injury sun radiation Royalty Free Stock Photographyem again the next day, BIG blisters and max redness and peeling skin, I knew that was more than I could help with so I told him to go to the doc.

He went to a local clinic and they decided he needed to go to a diabetic wound care clinic. There they fixed him up with antibiotic ointment and bandages but didn’t suggest anything else and told him to replace them daily. Well, that wasn’t something he could do for himself and we didn’t have bandages and stuff, so he talked them into having a nurse change the dressings daily. By this time, of course, he’d told them at work so he wasn’t working any more but he still had to drive in to the clinic every day to change dressings.

After about a week of that, another doc saw him and wasted no time in admitting him to the local hospital around noon, I guess. I went to visit him shortly thereafter. I left around five or so and took his wallet and stuff with me, thinking I’d come back with them the next day. But the doc who saw him later decided to send him either to Dallas or San Antonio to a specialized burn hospital and he left about midnight by ambulance to San Antonio.

It all happened so fast we didn’t have time to think about it. Thank goodness for cell phones and texting or I wouldn’t have known anything. They took him to the big military burn center there. It’s famous for its burn care so that was good. Only he had no ID, no money, nada. I had his wallet and I was home while he was "traveling!" LOL He joked about being "broke and undocumented" but the situation was a little too surreal and yet realistic at the same time. He got some strange looks now and then. When you have an accent and brown skin and no ID, well, it can be scary.

So he was there for several days while they removed the burned skin every Dressing on leg Stock Photosday, slathered him with ointment, and considered surgery for skin grafts on his elbow and knee. Thank goodness that didn’t turn out to be necessary. After a while he convinced them he needed to go home because he figured I needed him here since I don’t do so well on my own. I can do everything that needs to be done, of course, it’s just awfully hard and takes me a really long time and I can’t convince him that’s OK. But they acquiesced.

Of course, San Antonio is 150 miles to the south, he didn’t have a car and couldn’t even rent one without his drivers license, which I had up here. So Workers Comp, which had by this time been notified of the situation, sent him home by cab. Whew! I certainly didn’t look forward to driving down there and back, though driving is generally fairly comfortable for me. That’s a big city and I’m not familiar with it and trying to get around in it and figure out where the hospital was didn’t thrill me.

So for the past week he’s been taking warm showers and then we scrape off Mummy Stock Photothe dead skin and schmear him with antibiotic ointment and wrap him up like a mummy. At least the burn hospital sent him home with bags and bags of bandages and ointment. *G* Today was supposed to be the last day I had to wrap him up but he somehow managed to get the essentials taken care of by himself and those bandages will stay on until he has his followup appointment tomorrow. Again, they’re sending a cab for him. Whew!

It’s been an exhausting week or two. Thank goodness his skin is looking pretty good now, though still really red and purplish, but it looks much better. It never did pain him as much as I’d expect it to but the itching nearly drove him crazy. I’m hoping they have something else that can be used from here on out without the daily mummy-ing again. Maybe vitamin E oil or something like that. They gave him three special shirts that are treated with silver to combat any potential infection, as well as oral antibiotics, so maybe if we can figure out how to keep the skin from drying and shrinking and being painful we won’t have to wrap him.

I’ve never had much to do with burns and even so, things are way more advanced than when I had any reason to learn about them so I don’t know what’s the protocol any more. But I’m glad they sent him to San Antonio because that burn center is famous for their burn treatments.

So, I guess we’ll have some answers by tomorrow evening when he gets back. By cab. *G*

And that’s all the news that’s fit to print!  LOL

First Kiss


I’ve had two first kisses. I know, I know, there can be only one true first kiss but these weren’t with my true love – or any love, for that matter.

The first kiss was at my cousin Suzie’s wedding. I was sixteen years old and one of her bridesmaids. I was young and naïve – especially naïve – and for whatever reason I felt grown up that day. Clueless, but grown up. Maybe it was the form-fitting bronze sateen off-the-shoulder gown I wore.

Then Jay Pilkington decided to give me a kiss. Jay was one of the groomKiss a Bull Royalty Free Stock Photosmen, I think, but I’m not sure. I didn’t know many of the people there since I was from out of town. He strode up and said, “I want to kiss you.” I was expecting a quick peck on the cheek or maybe even on the lips, so I nodded. Suddenly I was held tight, bent backward by this very tall young man, and my entire mouth was covered by a slobbery orifice that could have put a bulldog to shame. I was trapped by his encircling arms, trapped by his encircling mouth. Trapped. I couldn’t even squirm.

I was stunned as his lips wriggled like earthworms and his tongue tried to pry its way into my mouth. Was this what kissing was like? Is this what I had to look forward to when I finally started to date? Oh, no! I couldn’t struggle, couldn’t think, couldn’t begin to function. Then, so suddenly I staggered, Jay released me and lurched away without a word. It was then I realized he was drunk. Slobbering drunk.

I slowly wiped my lips and lower face and tried to process my emotions. I’ve never quite gotten over the experience that my first kiss was so traumatic. First kisses are supposed to be romantic, lovely, etc. It left me anxious about my next experience. How could anyone think that was pleasant, much less romantic? Jay was so plastered I doubt he had any idea he’d even done what he’d done.

Then, a few years later, my next first kiss, when I was in college, was on a date with Ken, my first real date. Physically, the kiss was light-years different, but there was disappointment in store. I was an experiment for Ken. But at least he didn’t slobber! Our noseFirst kiss Royalty Free Stock Images just got in the way is all. Amusing and not a big deal. This kiss almost made up for Jay but it had its own bittersweet attachments. Once again, I was basically a thing, not seen as a person, as me, at all. Ken’s point in asking me on a date had been to use me to see if he really wanted to marry his girlfriend. I guess if he could kiss me and feel nothing, then he really loved her and that’s it. I don’t know if he married her or not, but I can pretty much say I felt nothing.

And, you know, I can’t even remember the first kiss I had with the man I eventually did marry. C’est la vie.


(I’m posting this rather more quickly than I usually do simply because it’s already written, and because Part Two should have some relationship to Part One. Enjoy. I hope!)

 

 

I believe the Higher Self has ways of guiding us onto the path we’re meant to travel, our destiny. If we (our egos) are too stubborn or too strong or too Embody Your Higher Self Royalty Free Stock Photosdense to figure that out, or if we try to do it all ourselves, or if we use the “deliberate unconsciousness” that Caroline Myss describes, the Higher Self must use whatever means necessary to nudge us in the right direction. If that nudge has the size and power of a 2×4, then that’s what it takes. We have no one to thank but our selves.

In other instances, though, the Higher Self may not resort to such forceful nudges. In some cases it may be that the ego is so spellbound by what appears to be the “real” world that it can’t be rescued by nudges or sharp pokes or even crashes. In these cases the ego will continue living but the élan in its life will be reduced or even eliminated as the self’s separation from the influence of its Self becomes nearly unbridgeable. It might even lead to an early demise from workaholism or some other similar “ism” or a physical illness. I came very close to this in my own experience.

Instances of people who appear to have it made and yet who seem puzzlingly dissatisfied are legion. Of course, it doesn’t do to judge such situations because, while we may see someone who appears unhappy in spite of all their accumulated stuff, their dissatisfaction may really be the nudge that moves them along. There’s no way to know the movings of spirit in the lives of others; we can only know our own experiences. Those experiences can change our point of view and allow us to step back and notice how others are experiencing their nudges from their Self. We can quit judging and just notice.

The mazes we might wander in our search could have dead ends throughout their twisting paths but there is a way out, though not all will find it. The path of the labyrinth, however, while it might seem to similarly wander aimlessly like the maze, actually has as its sole purpose to guide us inward to the center, our own interior, where dwells the Self. It then leads us back out again with the knowledge and wisdom we’ve gained from that meeting, now a more integrated being.

Just because the ego hesitates or resists doesn’t mean that the Higher Self gives up. I think my own experience shows that. Campbell says, “Not all who hesitate are lost;” similarly, J. R. R. Tolkien says in Lord of the Rings, “Not all who wander are lost.” The Higher Self may harass and niggle and provide all sorts of impassable barricades in our egoic life as well as use other implements to ensure that the ego is guided, even if unknowingly, into the necessary byways of the labyrinth.

Recall the instance of Jonah in the Bible. He was told to preach and prophesy to the city of Nineveh that it must give up its evil ways or be destroyed. In his effort to avoid this spiritual mission he attempted to run away by boarding a ship to a place as far away as it was possible to get from his homeland or, in Jonah’s case, his mJonah and fish Stock Imageission.

However, he was not able to avoid his fate. His life was struck by turbulence in the form of a storm at sea (symbolic of the chaos of the watery unconscious?) and the terrified sailors threw him overboard in an effort to appease the unruly waters. It apparently worked and the storm abated but a giant fish or whale swallowed Jonah.

Now this was indeed a very deep and dark world! Jonah’s prayer suggests the dark depths when he says, “…from the midst of the nether world I cried for help.” He goes on, “The waters swirled about me, threatening my life; the abyss enveloped me…. Down I went to the roots of the mountains; the bars of the nether world were closing behind me forever.” With this description we can see echoes of similarity between Jonah’s journey and the descent of Inanna where the depths of the underworld were guarded by gates she had to squeeze through to get in and then she was unable to get out through them again on her own.

Jonah’s prayer was heard and the fish spat him out. Jonah said, in essence, “I can’t do this any more!” He’d had to face his dark world and acknowledge it. Yet did he really learn from his experience or was he simply coerced by it? Let’s see.

Jonah was given a second chance to fulfill his mission and this time, preachingPreaching monk in church Stock Images and prophesying as he was bidden, he was successful. The people of Nineveh, a city that in his self-righteousness he would have preferred to see destroyed for its sinful decadence, listened to him. The people changed their ways, and the city was saved from destruction.

Then Jonah got angry about that. He hadn’t wanted this mission in the first place and now, after being pressured into doing it, and after preaching that Nineveh would be destroyed, it wasn’t, because the residents had heeded his prophecy and changed their ways. That really burned him up! Especially because, in some ways, it made him look like a fool. Firstly, he’d preached destruction that then didn’t happen, and secondly, because the people who’d listened to him weren’t even Hebrews and he truly hadn’t wanted to save them because of that.

He obviously didn’t understand the big picture even yet. Now is it apparent how much of his ego was involved in this mission? If he couldn’t avoid it and just had to do it, then he wanted to be in charge of the results, to have it to go off according to his desires and plans. Is this much different than how our egos might feel after having had some scrapes with our own interior depths and come out of them feeling fortunate and maybe a bit cocky because we hadn’t been trapped down there with that “stuff?” Our egos would probably take a lot of credit for that.

The story ends with Jonah being reproved by God for his anger over something that was really none of his business. He’d been given a job to do and he was not to concern himself with the outcome. Similarly in our own lives, the ego can resist and yet still accomplish the work of spirit even while not having a complete understanding of the entire process.

Fate Stock ImagesAt any rate, Jonah didn’t seem to learn much and he certainly didn’t have a very good time because of his resistance to his mission. Just think what a great adventure he could have related if he’d had a different outlook on the whole thing. After all, how many people can survive a storm at sea and be swallowed by a whale and live to tell about it?

While his ego’s attitude didn’t prevent him from ultimately achieving his mission it did make a big difference in his experience of it. As Seneca aptly and humorously reminds us, "The fates [or God or Higher Self] lead him who will – him who won’t, they drag." Much better to learn to go with the flow than to ignore the Call and end up doing it the hard way, being dragged kicking and scratching and maybe screaming all the way.

Now, there is another way for the ego to answer the Call or, rather, to not answer the Call and yet to accomplish its mission. Campbell calls it “willful introversion.” It’s sort of the opposite of Myss’s “deliberate unconsciousness.” The ego can make a choice, perhaps unconscious of what it means, but a deliberate choice all the same, to drive or push or in some way cause itself to enter into the psychic depths, to find out what Ereshkigal is in agony about, to seek something greater than the egoic self even if it’s not sure just what that might be.

Some egos attempt this union with a greater something by enrolling in the military or becoming an activist or joining a church or even a cult, etc. These methods all have the potential to lead to something worthy, something greater than even that group of which we’ve become a part. But too often they are only egoic ventures that proceed no further. The ego sort of accomplishes the mission without any real understanding of the purpose.

There are some who suggest using drugs to facilitate the willful introversion route, to rapidly open the ego to the contents of the unconscious but I believeDrugs addiction Royalty Free Stock Image that psychoactive substances, whether LSD or peyote or even alcohol or some other material, can be dangerous if not used with the proper spiritual training and purpose. Using these sorts of drugs simply for a recreational high is even more dangerous. The unconscious is very powerful and no matter how one is exposed, opening to it before one understands what can be called forth is playing with spiritual and psychological fire, not to mention physical pitfalls.

I believe that it’s safer to use a slower method that will enable one’s ego to become gradually strengthened and psychologically acclimatized so as to not be overwhelmed by the experiences. Forms of intensive meditation as well as measures like depth psychology, active imagination, dream incubation and interpretation, etc, can also accomplish this purposeful entry of the ego into the depths. Even these activities can be potentially dangerous or at least uncomfortable for the unprepared or weak ego, though, so they should be undertaken with proper guidance and training.

Campbell discusses the dangers when he states, “[Willful introversion] cannot be described, quite, as an answer to any specific call. Rather, it is a deliberate, terrific refusal to respond to anything but the deepest, highest, richest answer to the as yet unknown demand of some waiting void within…” He goes on, “The result, of course, may be a disintegration of consciousness more or less complete…but on the other hand if the personality [ego] is able to absorb and integrate the new forces there will be an almost superhuman degree of self-consciousness and masterful control.” One more intimation that a flimsy or weak ego can be at risk even if the potential rewards can be great.

This method of willful introversion is not one that’s often undertaken in our culture but it’s the way of certain styles of yoga and some types of meditation. Chinese ball Royalty Free Stock PhotoIt’s also similar to the process used by some artists for many kinds of creative endeavor from painting and sculpture to writing and dance expression. It’s no accident that great creativity and madness are so often linked in common lore. What happens is that the ego makes a conscious decision to attempt to enter the depths and to train itself to work with the energies that arise from those depths even if they might be uncomfortable or frightening. It then attempts to direct and construct those unconscious energies into expressions in the conscious world.

Those who undertake this route are sometimes described as neurotic but, like depression, neurosis can actually be a constructive state. Neurosis is simply a psychological sense that the ego/self and the Self are not in complete harmony. This sense of disjointedness, this neurosis, is often what propels the ego to Man and anxiety neurosis Royalty Free Stock Imageenter upon this difficult path. The pain of staying disconnected, wrapped up in its tight little bud, is worse than the fear of what it may find in its own depths. With the ego’s conscious choice and deliberate willingness to undergo this discomfort, the disharmony can be eliminated.

It’s not easy and it may take quite some time. The trick is to not get stuck at the neurotic stage but to be willing to bear the discomfort as the ego is transformed into one that is in harmony with and thus useful to the Self.

Willful introversion aside, if the ego refuses to respond to the Call and invests more and more of its energy in accumulating “stuff” for a specific lifestyle, it has less energy to commit toward the opportunity to grow into a partnership with the Self. In one way or the other, then, the ego has crippled itself by refusing to partake in the adventure available to it.

Of course, from the egoic viewpoint, if it can even understand or think about it at all, it thinks it’s saved itself from a great deal of discomfort at least and from death at best, and it expects to always get home in time for dinner. Thus, we sometimes see people who may have very comfortable physical lives but who seem to feel empty and lost. A bud rotting on the stem is not the way to exist in comfort and/or to keep death at bay.

It may take the ego some time to realize this. Perhaps it never will get the message. One way to avoid this dismal end is to teach our children, through myth or religion or initiatory rites or even fairy tales or movies, that there is a Call that we can expect to receive at some point in our lives, what this Call signifies and what it might entail, and what symptoms and emotions might be involved.

If we don’t refuse it or overlook it, if we are taught that it’s a normal part of life, we can make our passage an exciting adventure instead of a miserable experience.

If we’re not afraid to heed the Call we needn’t look for ways to avoid it.

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