“They cannot see themselves well enough to form a true liking and since we automatically fear and dislike strangers, we fear and dislike our stranger-selves.”
From About Ed Ricketts
I’ve my own personal theory of the timing of maturity’s arrival. It seems to arrive more often sooner in some than in nearly half of others. Some of us never grow up, and some of us arrive better late than never. Some of us vow to stop doing stupid things, to listen with greater care to our aboriginal inner authenticity. For example in some they are born with a womb, and with this furnace of creation literally interpenetrating their bodies they can be rendered mature instantly. This is just an opinion, not to be taken too much to heart. Now, for those of us who are not gateways that bring life into this creation we have to work at getting serious about this thing from a different angle. At some point we look up from whatever it is we’ve been toiling over and we survey things. One thing we notice is the thing beneath the likeness we see when looking in a mirror. Then, sometimes, not always, and only if the viewer chooses to listen do we hear this voice, and it is this voice that suggests our visit here is not going to last forever and we might just want to be a little more careful about the way we spend our time here. Once testosterone’s vice grip is loosened from the instincts, it is as if a fog has lifted, and things that rendered maturity mute at once are provided a voice. I have witnessed this miracle of late life onset maturity myself, and it is really something to behold. Of course maturity sounds kind of silly, humorless, mature people can take themselves serious, and this is not the destination I am talking about at all. I’m suggesting a more wondrous mindscape… it’s the Big Bang, the whole enchilada, the unified field. It is that instant flashing across the frontier of your own self awareness when you are moved by something bigger than YOU…the veil is pulled back and at long last you glimpse and hold the thing right in the grasp of the minds eye…it is your souls version of rock art. You laugh like a coyote at the moon. That’s a game changer…
With A Dream In Your Heart You’re Never Alone Hal David
On Tuesday night I found out that I still knew my way to San Jose. I got a front row at The Magique Bazarre staged at the Improv on Second Street, downtown, where I’ve been away so long. Wednesday night I drove into San Francisco to be in the audience of another show, The Road to High Street Circus. Not so new, New Vaudevillians, Mike Stroud, magician and Andrew Potter, musician presented altogether different shows, but that wasn’t the show at all. Instead there were a thousand chards, a veritable feast of vulnerabilities and even with all that I had the opportunity to see into continuity, the ever flowing, always evolving circumstances of performers seeking to bring their most authentic self to the enterprise. Caught like in a snap shot with a flash attachment, between polished old show versus evolving show…And circumstances were ejecting them from the comforts of the sure fire into the bittersweet jaws of what do I do now? We gain weight, we lose a girlfriend, we buy a house, we move to Tulsa, we take ice skating lessons, we learn to walk. Try this one, we do a show that puts food on our table, and a roof over our head, and we keep doing it over and over again no matter how much everything else in our life changes…that’s the highest high wire of all.
Technological innovation seems to push our change buttons. Some changes seem to be headed in the right direction. Other changes seem to be creating unexpected new problems. Shuffling you digital music while driving, trying to have a conversation with someone while they are playing with their smart phone, or trying to decide whether to buy a printed book or the electronic version all present the beneficiary with potential new problems. I’ve been interested in the tension between the emerging technologies and the artistic innovators who are trying to adapt the new digital devices and grow their audience. It seems all of these new innovative digital toys are opportunities and distractions. They are both. Finally, we find we must change the way we do things just to keep up. The tyranny of change in this ever faster changing technological world force us to experience change as having a velocity. And then at some point, I think we all feel it, we find ourselves just exhausted by all the different ways this wave of change just washes over our world. Some of what we do is scaled to the rate of our minds ability to think through an issue. This can take time. Sometimes I like speed and sometimes I like to take my time… a good book, a long sail, a glass of wine while enjoying a setting sun. Here is something I’d prefer not be changed.
In mindful awareness we have the opportunity to get beneath the layers of adaptation and enhance the possibility of change. Dan Seigel from The Mindful Brain
All of us have our own story, our own narrative, memories we recall and use to extract lessons to organize our lives. It is common to my experience to speak with a friend and hear a story that draws a conclusion that seems to point to a more constricted life.(I’ll never get that job, she’ll never forgive me, I can’t do that…) We can not change our biography, but we can change the story. The novel is an opportunity to illustrate how a character changes the narrative and how that change alters the story of their life. All of this might appear to be understood, but how many times have we needed help because we’ve become trapped in a narrative and find it almost impossible of letting go? “Why do you think that way?” someone might ask. What stories do you tell? Are you aware of these stories? How might changing these stories change your life? Why is it so difficult to do perform this trick….
Fear of change comes into view when it requires hoisting up a mast of a sailboat to change a light bulb. The mast on this Jeanneau sloop measures 45 feet from the deck. One person goes up the mast to do the work while a second is depended upon to winch the worker both up and then back down safely. Fear and trust are not intellectual when doing this work. Fear doesn’t seem to be located in the mind although it does seem to clutter it. It seems out of the mind and in the body where it advertises its presence…slight shaking, sweaty palm, rhythm of breath. When looking aloft from the first spreader to the next spreader and then from there up to the top of the mast I get the opportunity to stare right into the jaws of my instincts. Then, as if a symphony is playing my mind becomes orchestral…heart is timpani…hello gut it says, are you sure you want to do this? Yes, I am sure. I don’t want to do this. People who tell me they are bored, that nothing ever happens to them. Have I got a cure for you….
In other words, drastic change, under certain conditions, creates a proclivity for fanatical attitudes, united action, and spectacular manifestations of flouting and defiance; it creates an atmosphere of revolution.
Eric Hoffer, Longshoreman, Philosopher from his book The Ordeal of Change
I think we all look and wonder at the changes taking place in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. We look at the clash in Wisconsin and some cheer while most look aghast at the effort to rescind the right to collective bargaining. In this hall of mirrors the CEO of 3M, Mr. George Buckley bellyaches on the front page of The Financial Times about how repressive the current President is to his business interests. I grew up along the San Francisco waterfront. There is this concept called foreground/background. In the foreground for example there is an individual and in the background a time, place, and circumstance. Individuals in pursuit of personal change try to cultivate wholesome and skillful means toward that end. In the background it seems there are social/economic/political forces let loose from one side or another attempting to change the balance of power. In my second novel I am trying to describe individuals who are caught up in the Great Recession that came about by the implosion of the financial sector. At least eight million American workers lost their job. It is difficult for me to understand how in the world we have not put a single person in the financial sector in prison and instead political forces sympathetic to this financial sector have decided to launch an attack on the public employee unions. This is change… just not the kind I can believe in….
I am fascinated by the psychological structure of character. I am interested in a more robust approach, that doesn’t persist in identifying character problems. So, what this might look like is that by pulling the lens back and looking at the larger world we find in the wider more diverse set of psychological practices. Dan Seigel, Jon Kabit Zinn, Jack Kornfield, David Richo, and John Welwood among others have been expanding on this topic. I attended a David Richo workshop and he commented that in his decades of practice as a therapist most of his clients faced a crisis of personhood and few actually needed therapy. This bigger picture, this larger possible framework allows for new approaches to exploring change…in other words we can embark on a story in a novel and not force our characters into the straitjacket of western psychological frames… we have a much more diverse, much larger set of possibilities….so many more…it allows for the author to introduce readers to new pathways that might offer a more robust, more profound transformation…