December 22, 2020 at 10:01 pm #73242
Stephen, thanks for sending me the pic of your Norse/Yggdrasil World Tree/solstice/yule tree! It is beautiful!December 24, 2020 at 2:42 pm #73241R³Participant
Thank you for the music video ! I do enjoy the Name of the band Train . Fits in with my discussion with Shaheda. Just a little serendipitous synchronicity … love the poetry of it all …
R³December 27, 2020 at 8:14 pm #73240
Seems posting any links currently requires moderator authorization, so the appearance of some posts might be delayed until I get to them.
What we would really appreciate, though, are links that don’t take forum readers away from COHO, but open in a new window. So, for example, if sharing a link to an NPR story on Jung’s Red Book, instead of simply posting the URL, as follows
“Check our this NPR story here
We would prefer instead that you highlight the words you want to link, then click on the link icon in the menu bar at the top of the post you are composing (looks like a paper clip on the diagonal), enter the URL in the field that opens, click on the gear icon at the right of the field, and check the box that says “Open in a new tab” – so the result looks like so:
Check out this NPR story
Please note the difference. Clicking on the first link – the raw internet address – takes readers away from COHO; they have to navigate back by clicking on the back arrow to return. But clicking on the second link opens up a new window without taking users away from COHO: readers can close the second window when through, or use that as a point of departure to visit other sites, without losing the forums.
The only time one should be copying and pasting an address directly into one’s post is if including a YouTube clip, as that will ensure the video clip plays on this this page.
Thank you in advance for following that format.January 17, 2021 at 2:47 pm #73239jamesn.Participant
Hello everyone; sorry I’ve been absent for so long. These have been absolutely terrific responses to this topic. My holiday approach this year was to try and just listen to whatever came past my radar that informed me from my Christmas past experiences and sure enough several made themselves apparent changing my perspective in a very meaningful way.
(First off welcome to the forums Andreas; sorry it’s taken me awhile to respond. It seems you are already engaged and I definitely am looking forward to the new times ahead with you; your presence here is definitely appreciated!)
Now as to this topic; the first thing I noticed during the holidays was there were little hints or clues that would just present themselves as I would be going about my normal routines and everything would just stop. What I mean by that is the theme of “transformation”; (which I think is one of the main messages of this holiday season); would appear in some form like a movie or interaction of some kind. One of these for example was the movie: “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens was playing in the background while I was doing something and towards the end Ebenezer Scrooge was confronted by a vision of his mortality and the possibility of a life unlived where he sees his grave and no one cared whether he had lived or died; and he becomes totally transformed.
But the one that really got my attention was this little clip of: “It’s A Wonderful Life” that Jimmy Stewart describes to Johnny Carson of why it became one of the most iconic Christmas masterpieces ever made! This message of love and friendship are the inward values that make life worth living I found were reflected by several different moments throughout the coming days when out of nowhere old friends of mine would reach out to me to let me know about something they had seen and share it; or wanted to see how I was doing! It was extremely moving and reminded me that amid the surface display of everyday living the importance of the invisible life that supports the visible one often goes unnoticed; and that this is one of the main messages of the holiday season we can experience each year if we are open to it.
This holiday first posting I think has been a great success and I hope will become a tradition like the one that Michael first put together back on the older version of CoaHO.December 25, 2021 at 8:04 pm #73238
Given today’s date, I’m bumping this nostalgic thread back up to the top of the forum. Jump on in if so inclined, or just enjoy the read.
Hope all are having a very Merry Christmas!December 26, 2021 at 1:31 am #73237jamesn.Participant
Stephen, how thoughtful of you, and as luck or synchronicity would have it, I just thinking about posting something and your message showed up on my email. Where I live last Christmas started off with a bombing downtown that took out half a city block; and indeed, several horrific ecological events have happened since then; (one was a flood, and the other a tornado), that have recently served as a reminder of how fragile life can be where a person can lose everything they have and still must go living.
So, what does this have to do with Christmas which is generally a joyous and happy occasion one might ask? Well, perhaps a lot of things as many stories that are told often inform us around this time of year. Two, I mentioned above from last year which are: Charles Dicken’s: “A Christmas Carol”; and the other was a movie that became a Christmas classic called: “It’s a wonderful life”; both deal with personal identity trauma where the individual is forced to confront that the way they have interpreted their life no longer fits the inner demands that are being called forth as a mirrored reflection that no longer works; and a drastic change is called for to meet this inner requirement that now must be met and wrestled with and assimilated so that a new way of living can be born anew.
Tragedies, traumas, catastrophes, calamities, and disasters may all vary by application and degree, but one thing they all have in common is they summon forth within the individual character what is within them to meet their challenge or ordeal that is required and must be dealt with to move forward. Now in the mythic realm the two summons or calls in these two stories present themselves in the form of visitations from guiding spirits who are to help advise them on what they are experiencing as the world they thought they once knew which is no longer the reality they are now asked to transcend and become another dimension of who they are meant to be. In other words, the soul within is demanding to be heard in the form of this experience the guiding spirit is describing; and the individual must make a choice on whether to accept the challenge and transform, or to deny the challenge and become a victim of their own inner demons.
There is a very insightful line in: “It’s a wonderful Life” that is a major pivot point to the entire plot in which Clarence, George Baily’s Guardian Angel reveals: “you’ve been given a great gift George, and that is the ability to see what your life would have been like if you had never been born” and follows that insight with another: “each life touches so many” and together these lines drive the entire rest of the experience. We are each an agent in one form or another that affects not only our own life, but the lives of others life as well, and that you can make a choice on whether to participate in this grand opera of joyful sorrow and sorrowful joy that all life (is); or accept the robotic safety of the wasteland and with that lose the heart’s inner song that’s been waiting to be awakened and sung.
Fortunately for the hero at the end of both tales they accept the message that has been offered and are transformed into a new sense of awareness that this “wonder-filled landscape” has been there waiting all along within the life they have already been living; instead of the nightmare they have been experiencing. But they have now been awakened to a new since of possibility within their own character to bring this awareness to life.
So, what does all this have to do with Joseph’s themes about myth and the individual? Well, he asks: “What would sustain me in the face of total disaster so that I could go on living and not crackup and quit.” If I came home and found my wife and children murdered, my house gone and losing everything thing I have, what would serve this function for me? I think all you have to do to get a sense of this right now is to turn on the news and to witness the devastation that Covid is causing; to see global conflicts of all sorts raging across the planet, to see immigrants and refugees desperately seeking some sort of asylum, to see homelessness and violence and crime with no end in sight. But what does all this have to do with Christmas you might ask?
At the end of the movie George realizes what he actually has and asks to return to the life he was living but with a renewed sense of awareness that within and behind the foreground of life’s difficulty lies the meaning and purpose of much we have been searching for. Saying that however it would be a mistake to think of this simplistic example as a one-size-fits-all solution to much of the world’s suffering and pain we witness every day, and indeed within our own individual circumstances. But that is not the point, and the answer herein I think lies within our ability to see and interpret our life within the context of what it presents to us; not something taken concretely, but metaphorically. In other words, we should ask ourselves: “What is my life defined by, and how do I respond to it?” And that by changing our perception, sometimes changing the world really means changing ourselves. So that when Joseph says: “The world is a mess, it’s always been a mess, and you are not going to change that.” He doesn’t mean don’t participate in the game; get in there and do your part if you feel that is your calling. But the answers you may be seeking may be coming from your own insides. And I think this is the takeaway message from these two Christmas stories.December 26, 2021 at 8:55 pm #73236
There is a thoughtful piece in the Atlantic this month, called “The Mournful Heart of It’s a Wonderful Life,” that I believe you would appreciate, James.
The author, staff writer Megan Garber, raises several compelling points I had not considered before. One is that it’s an odd choice for a Christmasy feel-good movie, considering this is a film whose protagonist suffers suicidal depression as a result of repeated failure of his dreams, his hero’s journey perpetually derailed through a series of tragedies (every time he’s about to follow his dream and set out on his adventure, something interrupts: his father has a stroke, his brother marries and takes a better position, there’s a run on the savings & loan, etc.):
George does what he has to do. He stays in Bedford Falls. He sacrifices once more. The circumstances are coincidental; for George, though, they amount for much of the film to a senseless resilience. He is tested and tested and tested, with a notable absence of relief or reward. The hero with a thousand faces is left, instead, with a thousand loan accounts.”
So much for following one’s bliss!
She also brings up drowning as a recurring motif. George saves his brother from drowning when the boy’s sled breaks through the ice, losing the hearing in one ear as a result; as George and Mary boogie down at the high school dance, the gym floor opens to reveal the swimming pool beneath, a watery abyss into which our hero unwittingly falls; George, seemingly out of options, plans to take his life by throwing himself into the frigid waters of a rushing river; and, of course, George sets aside his own suicide to dive in and save the seemingly hapless Clarence (Angel, 2nd Class) from a watery death. I love that resonance (water, after all, often symbolic of the undifferentiated unconscious – this is a deeply emotional and psychological film).
Garber sees It’s a Wonderful Life as an ode to resignation and despair – how do we handle the grief of our failed dreams?
I suspect you and I see the hero’s journey story arc as more nuanced than does Garber. After all, how well did George really know himself? He thought he valued a life of travel and adventure more than anything else, but did he? I would argue we see his values in the What – and more specifically, the Who – that he sacrifices his dreams for: the druggist Mr. Gower, Violet the town slut, his brother Harry, Uncle Billy, and all the friends and townspeople under Potter’s thumb. George Bailey is called to a different hero’s journey than the one he consciously envisioned; for me, the film is about coming to an awareness of his own true nature, reconciling himself to his true calling (perhaps in the same way I didn’t consciously want to be a teacher – nothing glamorous about that – and yet, I was good at it, and loved it), and sharing his hard won boon.
Jumping in to the river to “save” his guardian angel, then being cancelled big time –completely erased – before returning to his life, is the transformational death-and-rebirth experience at the heart of a hero journey.
Garber does end up somewhere in the vicinity of the point you make about the movie that captures the sense of, as Campbell asks, what sustains us in the face of tragedy . . . definitely a relevant question in these times.
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