24 September 2009

Check the Map

"Not I personify, but the anima personifies me, or soul makes herself through me, giving my life her sense-- her intense daydream is my 'me-ness', and 'I', a psychic vessel whose existence is a psychic metaphor, ..." - James Hillman
"...I want my students to see ...that they are as capable of shaping the world as it is of shaping them. ... newfound appreciation for his [family] history allows Milkman to see himself as a link in the chain between the past and the future..." Marc Schuster from "'Gimme Hate, Lord!' Facets of Love in Song of Solomon" in The Fiction of Toni Morrison: Reading and Writing on Race, Culture, and Identity

I am in Boston this week, helping a friend (and former employer) prepare for an IRS audit of his non-profit organization which I once served. This work and I found each other last week. My earnings here will pay October rent.

Some people associated with this project see me as a savior. This is largely because my left brain almost always goes into overdrive when I'm around these folks [I just took a quiz online to measure where I am after two days' contact...] and of the hundreds of volunteers and staff associated with the group since Katrina, I am the sole survivor left on the Gulf Coast.

Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz
The higher of these two numbers below indicates which side of your brain has dominance in your life. Realising your right brain/left brain tendancy will help you interact with and to understand others.
Left Brain Dominance: 8(8)
Right Brain Dominance: 9(9)
Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz

If the last four weeks are an indicator, I will not save the day. Anything short of disaster will be a complete reversal of September fortunes.

I'm not in savior mode. I don't know exactly what to call this mode but "savior" is definitely a misnomer.

Three cats and a dog live in the South Boston apartment where I'm staying. I am allergic to cats. Luckily the weather allows wide open windows and physical distress has been minimal. This morning I have itchy eyes and nasal congestion. These reactions are reassuring -- yeah, I'm still me.

The backyard of the house next door has no lawn. The man who lives in the house has spent every dry weather day of the last 8 years, raking the ground and removing all pebbles, grass, weeds and leaves. He bags what he harvests and the trash collectors haul it away twice a week.

I watched him on and off all day yesterday. It's fascinating. Medium-sized bits of brick or stone outline two narrow strips on the north end of the yard. A single line of similar stones runs the length of these strips. From the second floor balcony where I stand, it looks like a Kahloesque uni-brow above two Asian eyes.

Yesterday, after sundown, he spent almost an hour toting pitchers of soapy water from inside his house, dumping them onto the side porch and watching the water drip through the wooden slats.

On this second morning, he is meticulously snipping all branches, twigs and leaves extending over or through the fence between his yard and the one next door. The woman who lives with him appears to be slightly disabled, both physically and mentally. When she comes out of the house and touches anything, he screams at her.

I think this would be called obsessive compulsive behavior but he seems quite focused and sure of himself. I'm told he has lowered the grade of his yard by at least 4 inches since moving in over a decade ago.

It feels like something is being worked out through my life. Maybe this is, as Hillman suggests, Soul making herself through me. Is it possible to know Soul's objective? To participate and contribute to the mission? Can I do something more than just fumble blindly, be more than a vessel? I listened last night to my hosts' discussion of the man next door, how he is spending the days of his life. What do observers say about how I am spending the days of mine? What do They see?

I don't know much about the lives of my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents. Beyond a few immaculate anecdotes, I have little information about the story before I came onstage. Still, I have a sense of how I have been shaped by ancestors, how the past makes me what I am.

The link between my life and my son's is clearer to me but still hazy. I can see a little about how I contribute to who he is.

I can't see how I'm shaping the world.


  1. Considering we go back 2000 generations back to the cradle of Africa, none of us really has any deep understanding of our ancestors ... and yet I am trying to find ways of incorporating veneration of them into my daily life.

  2. Enjoy the weather, and the perspective from a change in latitude. I see links, however dimly, to/from my parents and relatives. Too bad that there's nothing written down to be passed on from generation to generation. But it's something that I've thought about doing for my kids.

  3. I still wonder: do you think of suicide because you positively want to be dead, or because you want out of lifepain? Or do the suicide thoughts just rise up like fishes to food? Do you experience engagement and/or satisfaction with life as somethng circumstantial, dictated from the outside, or coming from within? Do you think very many people- if anyone- can see the soul they manifest? Do you think we can know what's shaped or shaping WHO or WHAT we are? Is who or what we are situational?
    Re the man next door: WOW. He sounds like an extreme control freak or an artist with a particularly insistent Vision- without the context of stage or statement, he seems to be in the area, at least,of obsessive-compulsive- enraged when someone violates his Charge..... but clearly he's doing something important to him, inexplicable as that might seem to us. Do you know of anyone who's asked him what he's doing- or more interestingly to me, what he SAYS about it? Do you think Others find your own daily practices inexplicable? Do you yourself find your own daily practices inexplicable?
    I'll tell you, I certainly find my own shapings and practice inexplicable at times- and, even when working blindly misunderstood in the Dark, I welcome compelling Vision, urgent for expression, and the repeated sweepings & arrangings the urgency sometimes takes to satisfy. I know my behaviors and expressions are inexplicable to many- or worse, for my ego at least, cute or crazy or just misguided. However it SEEMS, Soul will have her way.... and here we all are, living Expressions, whether or not we like how it seems to us to be turning out at any given time or place. Goodnight, little sister; I'm off to express myself at my job.


What do you feel about what you just read?