I wrote a lot about your post here James. I emboldened the things you wrote and then responded to your thoughts in each emboldened section. I am sure this could be a much longer conversation. And then I would also want to respond to Stephen’s response.
As adults we write all the time; we write about all kinds of things; we write on social media; we write at work; we write letters to people; we even write diaries sometimes that contain our secret thoughts; but are we really in touch with our deepest parts of ourselves; our fears and our dreams; who and what we love and hate and what we feel about the things we are connected to?
This is such an interesting question, are we really connected to what we feel about things. I write in my journal almost every morning for at least an hour. I find I do a lot of what Stephen describes, of really facing my soul there. Or rather, my soul faces me—yes, it pours out upon the pages. There are times, however, when I find I cannot journal as much. At those times, I am distracted, there is “too much to do.” Sometimes, when I am distracted, I go to social media instead and then there are all the quick interactions to read and respond to and before I know it, I am psychically overloaded, and at times that overload has a numbing effect. I do not feel those things when I journal. Some of the things I journal about end up on one of my blogs—usually in a much less personal way unless I am describing a dream I have had and revealing the keys to my psyche through the sharing of them. So there is a point I think both you and Stephen are making James, one about the difference between personal and public writing—much the way Campbell stated that dreams are private myths and myths are public dreams, our personal journals are our private myths, or our lived experience. But not just our ego experience as you both discuss, but the soul experience. This is all so beautiful I am getting tears in my eyes. I get very emotional about writing and writing down the soul.
But there is another reason, perhaps, that I get tears in my eyes thinking about this. For a long time, I have felt that on Facebook I am expected to put my best most positive face forward even when I don’t want to and don’t feel like it. While I am all for the power of positive thinking, some days when I am miserable about this virus in our world, I just want to visit with my Shadow-misery for a while, to be “allowed” to grieve before moving onward, but most people it seems cannot bear to hear anything negative on Facebook because of what I see/interpret as the positive psychology/positive thinking trend in society now. However, I also believe in paying attention to the Shadow and the negative feeling as part of the healing process. Truth is, I hate this corona virus, I am sick of the sickness it causes, what it has done to us world-wide. I get depressed at times to think this is the world my 7-year old granddaughter and her friends have to grow up in and I worry about what her and their futures will be and then I feel helpless because I wish we all could simply will this virus away. When a teacher quit her job with preschoolers because she felt she could not withstand not being able to comfort a crying child at school and would have to tell the child, “I am sorry, I cannot comfort you because we have to stay at least 6 feet apart,” well, that is how I feel as a grandmother right now and as a mother of an adult child. I would love to hug them both. And then I wish I could hug and comfort my mother or be at the nursing home—plus, I know how much I would love to be comforted too if only I could share a hug with my mother. We are all in one way or another grieving the death of life as it just recently was prior to this virus outbreak. We are trying to piece Osiris back together again.
One of the things I think that we sometimes don’t do enough of is “write”. I don’t mean quick emails to so and so; or memos or post cards sent about this that or the other as a quick way of touching base; but how often do we write to people or ourselves about what deeply matters to us; and there is where the good stuff is. And you recognize this when you go back later and reread something and it gets to you in your gut. (You know those moments in your life where upon reflection you see that it really was important; maybe even putting a lump in your throat.)
I miss the old-fashioned days of letter-writing to a pen pal or friend with pen and paper. When I was young, I even had a bunch of those seals to melt wax on to seal the envelope—I loved that! I can barely remember the last time I wrote an old-fashioned letter to someone. Just the other day, I was searching for some of the waxes and sealers online. I guess during the time of this virus it occured to me to indulge in some “real” letter-writing–tangible.
Now there are all kinds of YouTube videos on writing technique; and one can find plenty of reasons on why “not” to start writing about something. But there is a thing inside each of us that deeply longs for expression. James Hillman calls this the “Daimon”; a kind of guiding spirit that looks over you and helps you; and like the symbol of the acorn seed of an Oak Tree that once planted has a root system that goes deep into the ground anchoring the trunk and canopy as the seasons pass; this seed has a kind of “code” that’s full of potential for this thing that’s been planted. But then ask yourself: “What if this seed never gets planted; what does this metaphor represent?” The answer is: “the unlived life”. And there is an old saying that could be applied here: “That which you bring forth will save you; and that which you deny and do not bring forth may destroy you.” Think of this as your deepest dreams and wishes that lie waiting for you to find and live them.
I love what you write here (above), James, and recognizing the “unlived life” is so important We might be able to find potential in our journals, our heart’s desires. Journal-writers might find our vocations that way, meet our daimons in our writing and soul to show us our way. I do know that a large part of my life (soul’s desires) has so far been unlived and I am not getting any younger. I did not have or make enough time in my life thus far to fulfill my life dream insofar as vocation. However, as far back as my 20s, I imagined the type of grandmother I would want to be in my older age—and so my dreams of being a mom and grandma have been fulfilled.
I also don’t think that the form is that important for one’s journal—scribble words in circles if you want to—it’s not an English essay for a class you’ll get graded on.
Well now; what if you don’t know what they are; or maybe you have doubts that you are worthy enough to fulfill them. Joseph Campbell calls this your “Dragon”; and on every scale of that dragon is a: “Thou Shalt”. And the Hero within is to kill that Dragon and open him up to release the gold that lies within you. So how do I find and recognize this stuff? Well one recommended way is to: “write about it!” (These are just some thoughts to get this thread started.)
Yes, exactly—here be dragons!
One of my favorite metaphors Joseph used was the: “Marga Path”; a path that leads an animal back to it’s den; which in this case represents the: “Human Heart”. And the Hero Journey one might say is a road that leads one to this specific destination. (That’s my interpretation of this anyway.)
This is beautiful. Where can I find Campbell’s quotes on the Marga Path? I don’t remember that at all or else never encountered it.
So here are my thoughts about this that may or may not be worth a moment of your time. (Some of you may already be doing this); but since we are already in the midst of this horrendous Pandemic; why not “write”? Write about your thoughts and fears and dreams; write about your frustrations; write about yourself; write about what you love and what you think is beautiful; “but Write”! Make a sacred space for yourself to do this and keep a little stash of your musings and your passions; what you think is Funny; what you think is Sad; what you think about Anything; and then come back to it later and reflect on it. And over time a few things might start to work on you; and so you write some more. And as Joseph suggests here is where some of the gold of your life may reveal itself. If you are already into this sort of thing; great; do it some more and maybe share a few things with others; because this virus situation is like nothing we have ever faced before; and maybe it might help to talk about it with someone else! It might even help them; you know like supporting someone. That’s a pretty darn cool idea I think. People are sacred right now; and participating in the sorrows and pain of others is a pretty nice thing to do; (imho). So hopefully some of you have thoughts on this you want to share.
A couple of important addendums I want to add to this topic:
One is in: “Reflections on the Art Of Living – A Joseph Campbell Companion”; by Diane K. Osbon; on pages 269-271; Joseph goes into great detail about his thoughts on writing and the creative process that in my opinion would definitely apply here.
Also; here is a link to an article that may be of help to add some clarity on James Hillman’s theme of the “Daimon”:
“The daimon link above is linked to the dragon you discuss above: One of the reasons people silence the “voice of vocation” is due to the perceived risks of following it – one must sacrifice short-term comfort, status, and wealth, and engage in work where the outcome is uncertain. Yet to repress this inner calling is destructive, and often leads to the formation of what may be called a silent rage: “the absence, the anger, and the paralysis on the couch are all symptoms of the soul in search of a lost call to something other and beyond.” (Hillman). The individual who loses touch with their daimon becomes an empty shell of the person that could have been.” ———-Yep. The only time I do not feel like at least a half-empty shell is when I am writing regularly as my vocation. When I have to squeeze writing in here and there it is not the same (for me) as being happy.
Thanks for this post.