Monday, February 2, 2009

Befriending the beast at the center of it all

I'm not quite sure why, but today seems to need an extra blog post. So here it is. I'll begin with the quote Kim sent me this morning:

This is from The Artist's Way, Week 8: Recovering a Sense of Strength:

"Every end is a beginning. We know that. But we tend to forget it as we move through grief. Struck by a loss, we focus, understandably, on what we leave behind, the lost dream of the work's successful fruition and its buoyant reception.

"We need to focus on what lies ahead. This can be tricky. We may not know what lies ahead. And, if the present hurts this badly, we tend to view the future as impending pain.


"Gain disguised as loss" is a potent artist's tool. To acquire it, simply, brutally, ask: "How can this loss serve me? Where does it point my work?" The answers will surprise and liberate you. The trick is to metabolize pain as energy. The key to doing that is to know, to trust, and to act as if a silver lining exists if you are only willing to look at the work differently or to walk through a different door, one that you may have balked at."

And here's a related quote from Care of the Soul; I found it this morning while re-reading my journals from my time on Shaw Island:

"My responsibility to myself, to a friend, or to a patient in therapy is observing and respecting what the soul presents. I won't try to take things away in the name of health. It's remarkable how often people think they will be better off without the things that bother them. "I need to get rid of this tendency of mine," a person will say. "Help me get rid of these feelings of inferiority and my smoking and my bad marriage." If , as a therapist, I did what I was told, I'd be taking things away from people all day long. But I don't try to eradicate problems. I try not to imagine my role to be that of exterminator. Rather, I try to give what is problematical back to the person in a way that shows its necessity, even its value.

"We all tend to divide experience into two parts, usually the good and the bad. But there may be all kinds of suspicious things going on in this splitting. We may simply have never considered the value in certain things that we reject. Or by branding certain experiences negative we may be protecting ourselves from some unknown fears. We are all filled with biases and ideas that have snuck into us without our knowing it. Much soul can be lost in such splitting, so that care of the soul can go a long way simply by recovering some of this material that has been cut off.

"Problems and obstacles offer a chance for reflection that otherwise would be precluded by the swift routine of life. As we stop to consider what is happening to us and what we're made of, the soul ferments, to use an alchemical word. Change takes place, but not according to plan or as the result of intentional intervention... a muscled, strong-willed pursuit of change can actually stand in the way of substantive transformation...

"Care of the soul appreciates the mystery of human suffering and does not offer the illusion of a problem-free life. It sees that every fall into ignorance and confusion is an opportunity to discover that the beast residing at the center of the labyrinth is also an angel.

"I often think of this paradox as I sit with someone with tears in her eyes, searching for some way to deal with a death, a divorce, or a depression. It is a beast, this thing that stirs in the core of her being, but it is also the star of her innermost nature. We have to care for this suffering with extreme reverence so that, in our fear and anger at the beast, we do not overlook the star."


1 comment:

painterofblue said...

Thanks, I needed that!