As I ponder what this season means to me, this time of fading light and lengthening darkness, graying skies and skeleton trees, crisp air and muffled throats, four words recycle through my thoughts: Birth. Death. Rebirth. Change. And it’s not just the seasons that are changing. It’s me too.
Once I saw life as a well-marked road with a clear destination. Or an upward trek to a distant mountain peak. One day I’d arrive at that light-filled place and be finished. Or it was a spiral whose circles would get smaller as they rose higher until only a small, still point was left. I told myself I’d keep digging until a dazzling light illuminated everything I needed to know. I’d write a book that would answer all my questions and say everything I needed to say. I’d dialogue with my loved ones until the air between us was crystal bright and sparkly with no misunderstanding, confusion, or hurt. I’d be at peace. Done. Oh, and happy all the time because no matter what happened outside, inside it would always be spring.
Jungian analyst Monika Wikman writes, “The beginning of the journey of awakening often carries the innocence and naivete’ of the fool archetype.” So I guess I’m not alone. What I failed to realize was that to live is to change. That life itself is change. How could I not have understood this? There it is, in front of me every day. The bald cypress trees that were dense with greenery two months ago are sparse with rust-colored needle-like leaves. Our grass has patches of yellow for want of rain. Every day but Sunday our normally quiet street buzzes and bangs, chugs, hums and throbs with the saws, hammers, and generators of a neighbor’s house reconstruction. And this too will change.
Why did I think it would be any different with me? My inner house, my psyche, is under construction too. Last night I snuggled and relaxed into sleep with contentment after a day well-spent: a rainy morning of reflection and dreamwork that brought refreshing new insights after a long dry season of too much intellect; closure on more Christmas gifts; help from my son uploading the contents of my old iphone to my new one; a pleasant evening with dear friends. Yet other nights my thoughts churn and thicken with worry like cement in a rotating mixer.
This morning I awoke trusting there’d be time enough to answer my waiting e-mail and fit in my workout. I took it for granted that inspiration for the next blog post would come and I wouldn’t have to rush to a family Christmas party. Other days I wake up cranky from a stiff body and an uncomfortable dream, overwhelmed by a too-long to-do list, annoyed at the sudoku puzzle I thought was a snap until I bombed at the very end.
Sometimes I fight or ignore inner change. Then I lapse into a space that’s dark and narrow, like the hallways that led to the bathrooms I was looking for in two recent dreams. Then one morning I awaken from a dream of receiving a warm hug from a loved one walking behind me, holding me close, supporting me on my way, and I feel fresh appreciation for my husband’s cheerful breakfast commentary about the news, gratitude for a horoscope that sparks an idea for a blog post, pleasure at the synchronicity between an unusual word appearing in last night’s dream and this morning’s newspaper. I feel my limitations, know I will die, yet my heart surges with wonder and joy. In moments like this I sit in what Wikman calls, “the golden seat between the opposites, the incorruptible experiences of Self where we are not unduly thrown around by life changes, though we experience these changes.”
It’s true what she says: “Circulation of the psychic libido, when taken to heart, becomes…an embodied “religious” instinct…a felt experience of the divine.” ~Monika Wikman
Monika Wikman’s book, Pregnant Darkness, can be found at this Amazon link.