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On Synchronicity and Meaning

Viewing 5 posts - 31 through 35 (of 35 total)
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    Such a fascinating essay and such a fun read too. What awesome and amazing experiences as a hitch-hiker. Are you really SIRIUS about running into a driver from the  Pleiades and her companion from the Dog Star?  Is there a book coming out on this topic, perchance? “Memoirs of a hitch-hiker..?”

    One definition of Synchronicity resonates very deeply with me and it’s that “synchronicity is essentially direct insight” (Jung and Pauli) 

    Personal story: .  (Pardon my repeating this story over and over again) But its through direct insight that I experienced my synch moment. The action was in outer space, that is on  the dance floor graced by Jeanne Campbell and Bob Walter, and just as Jeanne bent down to pick up some lost object from the floor,  a concomitant thought flashed inside me…The mystery that had grabbed me for a year, was suddenly, totally and completely resolved.  It was BOTH a result of an image outside of me, combined with my imagination and memory…..imagination works on our stored memories too,  does it not? The chance event on the dance floor met my inner necessity and made it meaningful. My synch moments  have resulted in pleasant happy insights, a mystery solved, the inner necessity appeased.   “ It is a parallelism that cannot be explained causally. Is it an invisible field effect linking multidimensional spaces? The operation of non-locality (Stapp, 2009)

    You wrote, “Is there a scientific mechanism underlying synchronistic phenomena? Perhaps, and perhaps not. I’m quite comfortable viewing synchronicity as an upwelling from the unconscious. They remain very much a welcome part of my experience that provide invaluable information, though I don’t rely exclusively on synchronicity to chart my course any more than I do logic, emotions, or astrology.”

    I came across a  study (I am sure you and many others have come across it too)  that explores many attempts to link natural science to Jung’s concept of synch, eg., the concept that states bio molecules involved in cell division esp . DNA, maybe material carriers of consciousness…Does that mean, there is more synchronicities among relatives, parents, siblings, cousins than with unrelated folks?  Just wondering.



      Stephen; Shaaheda, Marianne, and Drewie; I promised you a response and my apologies for taking so long but it just could not be helped. I have been working on this entry for days and days; and I hope you know that I did not forget all of you; but this humble piece is the best I could come up with given it is still somewhat a work in progress. So; such as it is here goes. I’ll start with some various Facebook entries.


      Facebook discussion about Synchronicity experience – 4/17/2021

      Hey Shaaheda; I’ve been trying to figure out a way to answer some of your questions without making a huge drawn out storyline without bringing in too much excess baggage and keep this narrative from getting bogged down with minor details and still address some of your points; which in my view have extremely valid relevance to synchronistic events and themes in all our lives; so the point of your questions has not been lost on me if I’m understanding them correctly. It’s just getting all this backstory organized and present it in a way that keeps it manageable.

      Your questions to me were:
      “James, I loved your story but I want to know more from your perspective, as to your own psychic condition before and after the experience. Could you elaborate upon that. Did you dwell upon it for days weeks and months and still do? And the meaning in that encounter…love to hear more about your second story.”

      So here is what I’m going to say and combine the above first story with the second forthcoming one in a way that should marry both. First of all I think we all carry this what I call: “The what if” narrative from childhood into adulthood because it has to do with life possibilities. You look at something and ask yourself: “What if I did this and what would happen afterward”; and we are constantly evaluating everything as we do as we go along as measured against possible outcomes and how they might affect our lives within the choices we make; or put another way what we might call life potential for fulfillment. Now you could get Jungian about this and Joseph mentions the difference between the power drive and the erotic within the main drives of the ego system and that you are either one or the other and the libido; (or psychic energy if you will); gets caught up in this struggle of back and forth for balance so that it can flow properly when enantiodromia is taking place; but that is way too technical for what we are trying to flesh out; which is why do these moments of extraordinary coincidence strike us at certain moments and what do they have to do with our life track choices; because yes; I think synchronic moments have very much to do with how all these things affect us so profoundly and make us wonder why they happened and what to do about them.

      So to answer your first query; I’ve had many of these moments all my life but I just didn’t know what they were and I’ll give you an example. One day I was leaving a job that I had and as I went out the door I was trying to decide which direction I needed to go to take care of some errand or something like that and in mid stride I suddenly decided for whatever reason I should go in the other direction and changed directions. After about 4 or 5 steps I heard screeching tires and a car slammed into a wall that probably would have killed me and I was pretty shaken up after seeing this and accessing what had happened. Now what had happened was an accident caused by a drunk driver; but immediately the question arose of why all these circumstances came together and what made me change direction or I would not be typing this. One might ask is that synchronistic?; well maybe or maybe not. But the experience made a profound impression on me that my life might be determined by some mystery force and I should be aware that this mystery was always close by ready to intervene whether I was paying attention or not; for after all is not the possibility of walking out in front of something and not seeing always a possibility?; well of course just as an earthquake or lightning striking or any other phenomena occurring that; but we go on about our business just the same; yet still aware we are not always in control.

      So back to how we become aware of how this mystery dimension affects our lives; and steps in at the most unexpected moment to get our attention. Throughout a good part of my life many of my choices have been influenced by this awareness that following my intuition was what I was suppose to be doing; and I think for many of us it’s a guiding force that is directed from inside our consciousness be we are not always aware of it’s presence; and Joseph talks about this mystery dimension over and over again; but in different ways; and one of these ways is what we might call a Life Track; aka “following your bliss”; that is if it’s something that’s pushing you for your own inside or what you might call your sense of existence which he talks about in his conferences he would have with his students at Sarah Lawrence.

      And to answer your question Shaaheda so many of my sychronistic experiences have been related to this dynamic but I was completely unaware that these experiences were connected to this idea.

      It would take way too long reconstruct completely how all these pieces of a puzzle were interconnected to where I am now; (but they most certainly were); but I can tell you a short example. Many years ago when I first started playing I ran into someone one night I had briefly met a year or two earlier that was a recording artist and he had moved away but was in town to play a concert the next night and was looking to jam with somebody for some fun. I had already finished my evenings performance and had packed up but I knew the band across the street and told to wait and I would try and set things up. Well; it was a fortuitous moment and everything fell into place and I pulled out my equipment and joined in and everyone had a great time. So when we were all about to leave he asked if I would be interested in coming to play a few songs at his performance the next night and I did. Well; just as I was about to leave he asked if I would be interested in finishing his album tour and I said of course. Here is where it starts to get interesting; he said to wait by the phone and he would call because he had to clear it with his manager. So all the next I waited and that night I decided to go out for a bit but I asked my roommate to watch the phone and take the message and number to call him back. when I returned there was no message on my door and his lights were out so I went to bed. The next morning my roommate rushed in with the call back number at his hotel and of course they had just left with no forwarding number to reach him by. Well that’s the end of that I thought and forgot all about it because there was nothing I could do anyway. Well one fine day months later around Happy Hour I decided to stop in this same place we had jammed in for a beer and someone bumped into me from behind and low and behold it was this same fellow. We both had a good laugh when I explained what had happened and he again made me the touring offer which I accepted and I toured with him for 3 different albums over the course of three years before we went our separate ways. This work was very important in that moment of my musical career for it raised my status as a sideman to a whole other level. and during this time I met another by-chance encounter that led to even more touring work. So I’m going to end the story here because it’s relevance is concerned with synchronistic possibility about which you asked.


      (I’m going to add a footnote concerning the above story that underlines the significance of “meaningful chance” to this encounter that I meant to mention but I accidentally left out. The fellow that I ran into was only in town for “one day” to pickup his belongings from the place he had formally been living just outside of town. And the odds that he and I would bump into each other at that particular moment were literally as the saying goes: “a million to one”. I’ve thought about this often over the years and Joseph’s saying that: “if you follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been waiting for you all along; and people will open doors to you and the life you are living is the life you ought to be living and you can see that.” I would also add an important caveat that “bliss does not necessarily mean: “happy, happy, joy, joy all the time” but can also include great suffering for it represents as Joseph also said: “the push out of your own existance”; and this understanding represents if followed the metamorphasis out of which your life path comes to realization. Only now am I coming to realize the depth of this understanding which I will attempt to explain below.)

      (The bottom two excerpts were taken from a couple of exchanges I had at the: “Friends of Central State Hospital Cemetary” Facebook website out of which a forthcoming book is being published in the coming weeks ahead.) This website was put together in efforts to raise some kind of effort at restoring the 1700 grave stones that have been removed; so that all one sees is an open field as though these people never even existed. And what prompted these exchanges was what I would definitely call: “syncronistic experiences of connection” because of their relation to my past as you will see.)

      Decenber 30th, 2019

      About a week or so ago I was watching the evening news covering a gathering commemorating the passing of the homeless who had died on the street. No one knew who they were; no family or friends to mourn them. And one woman being interviewed; with tears in her eyes defiantly said:

      “Everyone deserves to be remembered. And although I didn’t know them; I am here on their behalf to remember them.”

      This city has a long history with cemeteries located all over town where family members are laid to rest that bear reverence to those who died. Military as well as civilians have special designated cemeteries that honor the memories of those who were either killed in battle or have passed on. We even hold special memorial services with parades commemorating public military events where their lives are celebrated. Yet the most vulnerable among us whose only crime was they were sick from a mental disorder are ignored and forgotten as though they never even existed. Every life has value; every life has meaning; and the way we treat those that are helpless as individuals is a reflection of who we are as a society.
      Our stories are our legacy that we leave behind that says: “We were here; this is who we were”; their stories are important too and worthy of the same respect.

      First off; I want to say I how much I admire what you are doing; words like: empathy and compassion immediately come to mind; but I have a personal connection to this place that bears a special meaning for me; one that is not easy to talk about; one that holds a story very difficult to tell. I’ve been reluctant about sharing it since it involves a connection to a piece I think is very important to the history of this place; but may cause distress to some who have memories of it.

      My mother was a patient off and on here for many years throughout my entire early life. And the treatment she got was sometimes very inadequate; over medication; lack of proper diagnostic care; even shock treatments. Over the years as she was admitted in and out for treatment. At one point she lost all hope; and quietly one morning slipped out the gate; took the bus downtown and went to the tallest office window she could find and ended her life. She is not buried in the hospital cemetery; but in her family’s plot.

      But what I’m about to share takes this situation much deeper and involves one of the most important mental health scandals in the city’s history; and telling it may cause pain to those whose loved ones are buried there. If you find it unsuitable for what you are doing with this site; I will certainly understand a request to remove it.

      About 2 years after she died the Tennessean newspaper decided to do an undercover expose’ on the unacceptable conditions that existed there. They had a young reporter named: “Frank Sutherland”; (who years later became the paper’s editor); trained to be a patient suffering from deep depression with suicidal tendencies; and under an assumed name was admitted where he stayed for a month while in touch with the paper. When he released himself; (again walking out that same front gate); he wrote about 18 articles documenting his experiences.

      Those articles exploded across the front page causing the most profound uproar the city had ever experienced concerning mental health treatment. State and local legislative measures were immediately proposed and he covered the results of those efforts as they evolved. From January through February on into March the stories ran and public concern and outrage changed the public’s perception of what mental health treatment had been and what it should be.

      About 1980 President Ronald Reagan signed the new Omnibus budget: (the beginning of what came later to be referred to as: “Reaganomics”; and the Federal Funding for large institutions like Central State were drastically cut back causing many of the places similar to this across the country to close down. Thousands of patients were left to survive on their own; many of them: “Vietnam Veterans”. A new word began to enter our vocabulary: “Homelessness”. I remember seeing some of these people for years sleeping on park benches and begging for food.

      Central State became: “Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute”; and closed in 1995; and there were other similar institutions across the city that suffered from these cutbacks as well.

      (excerpt #2 from the same above conversation)

      Over the years it was always difficult for me to revisit thoughts of this place; and since each person’s story is different; mine was hard to process because of the personal trauma involved. I came by the front gate and took a couple of pictures of it in 1992 when it was still in existence as the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute; but when I came back recently to take a few more current shots I was staggered by what I saw; nothing left; nothing of what was once there; it was though it never existed. I was stunned; I drove into the Dell complex and could not believe what I was looking at. The Central State complex had been like a small city that was almost completely self-contained; a little world unto itself.

      When I would go to see my mother we would walk around the grounds and she would describe some of the things that were there. When she would come home for a visit there was always the sad moment when we had to take her back. She had periods where she was well enough to go back to work and raise her family; but always the deep debilitating Depression would return and she would have to go back for treatment; (which was not very successful); read the expose’ included earlier for insights into why this was the case for so many people who were treated there).

      Seeing the entry gate house again all nicely manicured instead of the natural foliage that previously enclosed it; only underlined the starkness of the total transformation that had taken place. And except for the new historical placard recently put next to it; you had no way of knowing when looking at it; what had previously existed there before.

      She was usually housed in the newer Hauk building instead of the much older ones in the surrounding campus; but when visiting you could not help but notice the large number of people who were in residence crisscrossing each other with their families on visiting days. It was a huge place in constant movement; but one you were glad to leave when returning home; (hopefully with your loved one).


      Over the years experiences that I had were directly linked to another place where I myself had lived for 5 and a half years that also had a huge connection to my mothers placement in the above institution and her later tragic death which put me on this road that I will try and explain which is why it has taken me so long to assemble a response to the above topic of “synchronistic meaningful chance”; for it was these experiences that told me I was following my own “Bliss Journey” but that I did not know what was pushing me from inside at the time. And it is only recently when I visited this former place and saw it completely demolished that I came to understand the realtionship of what I experienced there along with my mother’s death that I was able to assemble all the various pieces of this life puzzle into a comprehensible and explainable whole. (It’s still ragged but it will have to do for now.)

      Mother’s Day has always been a particularly difficult time for me to celebrate because her suicide had been on May Day and of course Mother’s Day follows in close succession. And when my mother passed because we were so close I usually tried to block all this past history out.

      Well; after getting more familiar with Joseph’s and Jung’s themes over time I began to realize these things you repress will begin to resurface and demand attention and all of your powerful earlier experiences will need to be assimilated in a different way and in some way re-introducted and “integrated” from their earlier repressed state or they will continue to manifest into a more darker aspect of the shadow.

      One of the things that keeps coming back to me is where Joseph mentions along this line in my own words is this realization of: (that which you embrace will inform you and enrich you; but that which you deny will destroy you. And this embrace of the shadow; or your dragon if you will; takes on a difference tone of which instead of threatening you will show you in some kind of way how your difficulties may actually be your saviors in a different way.) And over time I have been able to come to terms with many of these experiences and understand that without them I would not been able to become the person I am now. We are not talking about perfection and enlightenment in the way of a sage; but that if we are able to recognize and assililate our shadow’s dark experiences a change begins to take place within the psyche that brings the “senex/crone” archetype into play; and the path you are on is not one of accomplishment; but of “meaning” which is the “marga path”; or that of the animal path that is followed back to it’s den which represents the human heart.

      So in essence it is only now that I’m coming to realize that all of those earlier experiences were part of a larger mosiaic that brought me to where I am now.

      (I will stop here for now since this entry could become much larger and is already becoming quite unwieldly. Hopefully it makes some kind of sense in relation to the above discussion we are having about: “Synchronicity and Meaning”. Sorry this took so long; it’s the best I can do for now.)



      What a fascinating piece. You write, it’s a ‘humble’ piece, and to me, it’s an epic – a gradual unfolding of events, their impact on your life, and your take on some of your blissful moments and some of your heart-wrenching times (like your mother’s unfortunate and untimely ending). And, was it after your mother’s death that you found Dr. Thomas’ books discussing new and unique approach to life? By the way, the book, “Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life – By Dr. Thomas” should be arriving next week.

      James, your beautiful stories of  synchronicity in your life, like running into someone who offered you a job, to being saved from a life threatening accident affirm the sacredness of all lives. As your stories unfold, I am reminded of  Joe Campbell  (  Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation.)  “I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” —  Sometimes I wonder whether these moments that keep percolating in our heads, are there to remind us that there is an incredible mystery that we are living and the synchronistic phenomena is a way of reminding us of that enormous mystery that we too are a part of.  That’s what my synch moment affirmed for me, that I am a tiny particle in an enormous mystery.

      You wrote, (“The what if” narrative from childhood into adulthood because it has to do with life possibilities. You look at something and ask yourself: “What if I did this and what would happen afterward”) Ah I find great profundity in this, because the time of my first synch moment coincided  with my fav mantra, and my fav mantra was, and perhaps in some ways, it still is, “What If?” especially, “what if I had spoken my truth then”,  “what if I had not taken that route in life”, “what if I had packed up and left long long ago”…… Agree James, that our synchronistic experiences are  related to this dynamic.

      Thank you for these profound words from  Campbell: ” One of the things that keeps coming back to me is where Joseph mentions along this line in my own words is this realization of: (that which you embrace will inform you and enrich you; but that which you deny will destroy you. And this embrace of the shadow; or your dragon if you will; takes on a difference tone of which instead of threatening you will show you in some kind of way how your difficulties may actually be your saviors in a different way.)  This is similar to what Jung says about wounds  — that our wounds are  an opening to the subconscious mind, which also happens to be the birthplace of our creativity.  When we face our wounds, we have access to a creativity not yet known to us.

      On my long walks to the mountain, besides listening to Joe’s lectures, I also listen to John O’ Donohue,  especially his words on suffering and wounds.

      John O’ Donohue

      (Beauty is the closest sister to that which is broken, damaged or soiled. This is also the beauty of “Paypos”(sp? I can’t find this word, is it Latin, is it Irish, what is it? )  He defines it as, the emotion that awakens in our hearts in the presence of loss…let’s say, it’s the loss of a relationship, and you realize that you will never be with your beloved in the same way, as you were then in that particular place in time…and the place fills your heart with a sense of paypos(sp?) a longing – a sense of deep deep loss. So one of the best ways to heal yourself is to go to that place with the beloved, the time you could hear the skin whisper, now direct a gaze inwards to your soul, and the kindness of that gaze in the paypos (sp?) of your inner loss, can TRANSFIGURE that loss and bring you whatever is missing from your life. And with going inward I find I am healing that loss, I am embracing it, instead of denying it or repressing,  “what if I had spoken my truth” which only leads to a cycle of regrets and more regrets.

      Just as I was closing my laptop, I ran across another great saying, you are free to take three guesses, “Wherever we are, whether tasting Paradise or enduring Hell, we are best off if we embrace each moment and experience the full range of emotions — the ecstasy AND the agonies of life. Embracing the experience includes acknowledging & fully experiencing negative feelings — frustration, rage, loss, fear, the emptiness of a broken heart — as well as the happy happy joy joy parts of life … saying “yea” to it all.” (???)

      Again, James thank you ever so much for this beautiful piece. I do wish to cover a few more points on the issue of “homelessness” and  “what happens when the homeless die”. All very deep topics, dear friend.

      Shaahayda (with gratitude)


        Shaaheda; thank you for your sensitive, kind, and tender thoughtfulness on my attempt at describing what I experienced. Putting such things into words as you know can be extremely difficult; but as you, Marianne, and Stephen have often referred to about the writing process a door is opened through which another realm is accessed where transcendent and transformative elements are allowed to alchemize if you will our innermost thoughts and feelings of our experiences where as Joseph mentions in: “The Hero’s Journey”; although I can’t remember what page I copied it from my old notes: “Alchemical Imagery is one way of telling this same story in terms of getting gold out of the base matter.” But these other quotes of his are some of my very favorites of his from the same source that marry to what we are discussing concerning from where these realizations come from out of our own experiences:

        “In the journey of the soul itself the way out is the way in. It is a movement beyond the known boundaries of faith and convention, the search for what matters, the path of destiny, the route of individuality, the road out of original experience, a paradigm for the forging of consciousness itself: in short the hero’s journey. (It is a composite like the legendary gryphon, taking shape gradually, piece by piece, an individual assemblage of key ideas: “the will to be oneself is heroism”.)

        And added to that from the same source: “The seeker is the mystery which the seeker seeks to know. The hero’s journey is a symbol that binds in the original sense of the word, two distant ideas; the spiritual quest of the ancients, with the modern search for identity.”

        There are of course many other quotes of Joseph’s that could be added to this list but the point is this internal process out of which we are able to access them. And then a path is forged which leads to more of these things and then all of a sudden you are no longer who you once were and your understanding of these experiences becomes a kind of guide in a way toward this new realization you are struggling toward. Looking at your unknown face often conjures up very unpleasant memories that have to be assimilated as well; but pushing through is often the most important part toward achieving this thing you are reaching for. I had several of these experiences that confronted me in ways I am still processing; one of which happened when after a year in lockdown I went to visit one of these places where I had lived for five and a half years wondering if it still stood and it was completely wiped from existance as though it was never there to begin with. Developers are tearing the city apart; and the history and memories that go with those places are now gone except in books and photos and stories that people tell about them; so it was a real shock to see it erased.

        I will leave a link to the above Facebook webpage that contains more information and pictures of the mental hospital so you can get some idea of what I was talking about; and there is information included about the series that ran in the paper on mental health reform I mentioned. Many of homeless population of Viet Nam veterans I mentioned came from places like this because the funding was taken away during the 1980’s and mental health care has taken on a somewhat different approach now with large institutions being replaced with smaller facilities; but homelessness itself is a much larger issue that has evolved over the years because of changing political views and social values that have lost touch with this tragic human need that has now begun to resurface in a much more profound way because of the economic collapse caused by the covid pandemic. (It should also be mentioned that the Veteran’s Administration handles most of these mental healthcare needs of Vets now as far as I know.)

        There are others who are more qualified than I am who can provide more current information about the way mental healthcare is handled now; but during my experiences back in the 1960’s it was a horrendous thing to endure; and not something that was socially acceptable to talk about except in whispered conversations that were mostly kept private. Here is the link which also has information about the upcoming book:


          I want to go back to Shaaheda’s request about my earlier story concerning this conversation she, Marianne, and I were having about childhood experiences and “Synchronistic Meaning” and how these things can have such profound importance in the way we interpret our lives and how these things can come back in an entirely different way in later life. My narrative began with talking about the inner child within all of us and how it can later manifest itself.

          Marianne; I want to speak to this tender childlike voice for a moment because I think it represents a kind of voice so often missing when talking about these kinds of topics concerning analyst or therapist and personal connection to inner world relationships. I’ll mention a curious; possibly synchronistic; type of voice or tone if you will; that I began to explore concerning my reading and individuation pursuits after I retired upon one of my nighttime photo excursions shortly after the Parkland School Shooting in 2018.

          I was in a favorite park of mine where I have much personal history early one evening where I like to go sometimes and take pictures when I passed a very special shrine to victims of teenage gun violence. It was during Christmas and the shrine was decorated with lights and displays that children might enjoy and was packed with grieving parents and family commemorating their loss. This chance encounter of this scene impacted me profoundly and I was determined to come back and photograph it when no one was around to listen to it what it had to say. As I returned later and quietly explored the different viewpoints to take my shots I began to hear the voices of the parents coming to grieve their loss and as the weeks and months rolled by I began to go back and explore all the different childhood stories and authors and teachers from my own past up to the present and listen to their voices and what they had to tell me. There would be Christopher Robin; and Mr. Rogers and all these: “once upon a time” characters from my youth and their stories and the books about childhood teaching development and childhood violence and the gun lobbyists demeaning the Sandy Hook Massacre because of efforts restricting gun rights swirling around in my head until I began to get a better sense of what was working inside me at the time. Movies, books, and documentaries followed in my pursuits as I began to explore this voice and it became incredible clear that this was a synchronistic influence in the path I had been on exploring what was leading me forward.

          So as I’m entering this post and watching all these entries appear I think it’s important that the topic not be restricted to particular facets in an academic sense but to try and make the connection of synchronistic references more personal as well. And I say this because this material concerning Campbell and Jungian themes is not always communicated as deeply from a paper or a thesis or an analytical approach but also impacts lives in an extremely intimate way.

          Not I’m not suggesting we throw out all papers and start reading nursery rhymes to people on a Freudian or Jungian Couch as Joseph might have put it; but when we are exploring personal experiences as well as documented themes this inner world is in some ways to me like sanctified childhood playrooms that adults have forgotten about and are part of what is driving this synchronistic bus we are all riding in. And the idea of Story as a framework that unlocks a lot of these doors that hold such much of this inner material we are trying to get at can get hijacked by theory and school of thought. To further this idea of the child voice I offer how this pandemic has brought the Shadow front and center into the room whenever we pick up a newspaper or look at our newsfeed and see what’s playing for our attention.

          Please forgive me for going on so long about this but I think it’s important to keep it in mind while we are exploring this topic. In other words it’s not all about myths and legends; it’s also about human beings; and it’s not that no one is not aware of this; but I think this tender little voice that Marianne has illustrated often gets drowned out by the volume of the other.


          Shaaheda’s request to revisit this story has been on my mind alot these last few days and I couldn’t quite understand why until I got a hint this morning from something I was reading about the childhood transition into adulthood and how all these simple childhood memories stay with us and in many ways determine who we become. If we are introduced to good stories and influences that reference good solid value systems such as developing empathy and compassion then the child is more likely to look for these things in others later on. But so often in modern times it seems that children often become marketing devices targeted at purchasing consumer items and services connected to other themes not necessarily related to the older story values that were passed down; or that have in some way been reversioned, revisioned, or repurposed if you will; with other more profit motivated purposes in mind such as Disney, Mattel, or any other of the many corporations that market these kinds of children’s products. But to me what has become the greatest threat is the use of violence in many of these new stories and products. (Fred Rogers was particularly sensitive to this issue as he made his case before Congress for the establishment of children’s television with programs specifically centered around teaching children how to make the transition into adulthood with as little trauma as possible.)

          Now the point I’m attempting to establish is not remaking the world to shelter a child from the harsh realities of life; but to give that child a kind of guidance system that will help them navigate the various crisis situations they will inevitably encounter throughout their life course. Joseph understood that a myth if properly introduced would provide just such a tool; and indeed much of his work was centered around this understanding. And indeed when Bill Moyers in the “Power of Myth”; asked him about why myths were important to which Campbell replied: “You bet they are because otherwise the individual may be headed for a schizophrenia crackup. The world is full of people who have stopped listening to themselves and have put themselves on a course that the body is not interested at all.” This inner world that becomes the life guide is directly related to the child that resides within us all; and to ignore or disregard the implications of this relationship to later life outcomes is to take away the meaning from which life values first come.

          I was passing by a conversation on Facebook that was discussing the importance of the loss of innocence of childhood and it occurred to me that in many cases if not “properly implemented” this often dramatic transition is exactly what comes back to haunt the adult in later life. Now in my mind no one is saying that the often harsh realities of modern life are ever going to totally disappear; and to completely disregard this reality would be at one’s peril to be sure. But it seems to me that Joseph’s suggestion of finding and living out one’s: “personal myth” would a good way to reinterpret a more modern and doable approach to this age old problem as he describes the 4 functions that myth serves and his most well known theme of: “Follow your bliss” is what immediately grabbed me when I first encountered him on Public Television in 1988 after going through just such a crisis as I described above. And part of my problem as I was later to find out had to do with the conflict surrounding the difference between the: “Right and Left Hand Paths” that Joseph describes below.

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