Releasing the gods within

Modern mythology (รก la comic-book heroes & Harry Potter) make extraordinary powers something odd, often imposed on those who never asked for it or are forced into concealing it in order to survive.

I don’t have a lot of time for the victim mentality, however charmingly restated. (I love Harry Potter and X-Men but still take them in small doses.) And the idea that it’s abnormal to be super-anything is not congruent with my experience. I don’t know anyone who isn’t super-something.

Embracing the deep weirdness of reality and going from there seems much more effective — and realistic. Notions of normalcy are hopelessly entwined in history and place, sealed with the invisible glue of social fear.

In other words, normalcy is unstable and profoundly irrational, even as we’re desperate to hang onto and justify it.

Not very helpful for dealing with bodily meltdown, lasting pain, deep disruptions and the massive issues of powerlessness, poverty and loss that are shaking so many. It’s too easy to feel like a victim and a freak.

I’ve been delving into the mythology of the Titans, creator gods (like Gaia, Rhea, Ouranos, Kronus) who gave rise to the later — and nastier — Olympians (like Jupiter, Mars, Hera, and all that crowd.) They deal with devastating changes, massive loss, pain, betrayal, mutilation, everything we face — but not for one minute do they imagine that they are ordinary, held to small standards, ineffective or meaningless.

They move and think and act and feel as if it mattered, because it does; they are born to their extraordinariness and they own it, warts and all.

I want to reframe the stories we tell ourselves so that we start out being extraordinary — not by accident or as oddities, but by right. Then the overwhelming tasks we face become merely heinously difficult, not completely beyond us.

We need not waste energy trying to conceal how much we can really bring to bear. We have better things to do.

Share this article:

Define stability

I live on a boat. Not a houseboat, a sailboat. It’s 29 feet long, 9’4″ at the widest point (outside measurement), and has overhead clearance of just barely 6′ in the main cabin.

Since I’m less than 9′ wide and 6′ tall, this works for me.

A small boat is an unstable surface, shifting with every step and wiggle. You keep your balance by toning your abdominal muscles โ€“ as soon as you tighten your midsection, the wobbly feeling disappears, and even if the boat’s surface is 30 degrees from horizontal, you can still keep your feet under you.

I have the strongest core of anyone I know who doesn’t either live on a small boat or teach Iyengar yoga, because that’s just how it works.

A friend of mine moved away and couldn’t get rid of his even smaller boat (25′ with rather less overhead clearance), so he sold it to me cheap. The main difference between his and mine is that the smaller boat has a larger engine and a thicker hull. It was designed to sail across the Pacific.

Now I have two boats. (That’s COMMODORE Idiot, thank you very much.)

For various reasons, it’s time to leave the Bay Area. I’ll be returning part-time to rural Massachusetts, but I can’t hack the cold season. It would be far cheaper and less painful to gnaw bits off me with a blunt and rusty saw. So I have to come up with some way to live and somewhere to be during the off-season.

Did I mention that I have a boat? … In fact, two?

I’m discussing a boat-partnership with a friend of mine who is capable of the work, but hasn’t found out if he really likes it yet. We’re going to work on the boats this winter, getting them ready to sell; in the fullness of time, we’ll know if we’re cashing them in for an upgrade to sail towards the Equator in, or flogging them and splitting the money then going our separate ways.

The second option is easy, sensible, and well within my expectations and experience of life. Our friendship could easily continue intact.

The first is not necessarily any of those things. But the long-term benefit of it is that it would probably give me a second home to go to, somewhere warmer, with the comfort of a friendly face to greet me.

Some think that coming away with a sack of cash is more like stability. Having money reassures me in a way known only to those who’ve done without. It feels solid.

But what’s the value of solidity? I’m used to ground that moves under my feet. Snug up your core, and it’s easy to handle. And there’s nothing like casting off and taking off, nothing over you but open sky, and your own home flying through the water with such poise that it makes even the cormorants faint with envy.

[IMG cormorant superflock on my birthday sail]

Stability might mean solidity. Or it could mean being able to balance different forces well. Which of these sounds more interesting? Even โ€“ or perhaps especially โ€“ when you aim to make each day as sparkly and intriguing as a handful of jewels?

[Just wait till I get the pictures up :)]

Share this article:

Polarity, Extremism, and the Real Alternative

We have gotten so used to thinking in binary terms — either/or, for/against, all/nothing — that it’s becoming more and more common to have to stop the conversation part way in and say, “But wait, I’m not talking about the other extreme. I’m talking about something other than extremes.”

This happens all the time in political conversations. Three sentences in, and there you are: binary, oppositional language. How tedious is that?

It’s so tedious that I’m going to change the subject completely.

I have an excellent friend who tends to flit. When I was expecting him to show up on a regular basis, it could be maddening, because he tended to get so caught up with the flitting that he forgot to update me.

You’d think that, if flitting where the problem, flitting less would somehow solve it. This is where polarized thinking, or the opposite extreme, can be a real red herring. Suggesting it sets up an antagonistic feeling in the space of a single breath.

Flitting less is not the issue. Updating me is what solves the real problem, which is not about him flitting, but about my being able to plan, so I can get things done and have some company (and aid) while doing so.

In order to see that, I had to realize that the issue is not binary: “do this, not that.” No.

I wanted to be mad at him flitting, because he was having such a damn good time that I felt a little envious. The essential silliness of being mad at someone for having health and friends is pretty obvious.

So I peeked under the layers of frustration and irritation, and realized that the main point was simply knowing what to expect. I can’t do much myself, yet the accomplishment of getting things done is one of my key brain management tools (think in terms of dopamine: executive decisions, motivation, initiative.)

So if I’m relying on the help and don’t get it, it kind of screws up my day in a whole new way. But I can adapt to changes like crazy, if only I can see them coming.

Once I could convey what I really needed (to know what to expect), could explain the factual logistical impact of not getting it (it sort of blows my brain up and kills my day), and clear out the emotional rubbish, it was very easy for us to communicate across our different styles and different needs in a compact, useful way. So I love the guy as much as ever and feel more secure about working with him.

We don’t have to be alike to figure out how to get along. Who knew? In fact, I find people who are too much like me to be rather annoying, so it’s probably best if we’re not.

I look forward to the day when, over dinner tables and coffee cups and news reports everywhere, we’re all a little better at peeking under our layers of frustration and seeing what the real issue is — and realizing that it’s not extreme at all. It might be as simple as keeping each other updated.

Share this article:

On being human, or bearing the unbearable

Mythology helps me put my mind outside my ideas of what’s impossible, and thereby live constructively despite CRPS. More on that later, probably, but here’s an hour’s private lesson with the greatest practical mythologist of all time.

Good for playing over & over while you do other things, and let different bits surprise you on each replay.

C.G. Jung In His Own Words – The World Within [FULL DOCUMENTARY]:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75766BLgqeA&feature=youtube_gdata_player

(With grateful thanks to the L. A. Institute for Carl Jung, for providing this whole film on YouTube.)

It’s always too easy to sneer at a superficial glance at the work of those who’ve gone before. There was a time when I thought Jung was pretty wacked, with his giving mythological caricatures such a powerful place in the mind. How simplistic!

Like all superlative work, it only looks simple from a distance. The closer you get to it, the more mind-glowingly complex, subtle and profound it becomes.

I meant to write “mind-blowingly” there, but, for once, autocorrect may have gotten it right.

Share this article: