Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Descent

"I took the lamp and, leaving the zone of everyday occupations and relationships where everything seems clear, I went down into my innermost self, to the deep abyss whence I feel dimly that my power of action emanates. But as I moved further and further away from the conventional certainties by which social life is superficially illuminated, I became aware that I was losing contact with myself. At each step of the descent a new person was disclosed within me of whose name I was no longer sure, and who no longer obeyed me. And when I had to stop my exploration because the path had faded from beneath my steps, I found a bottomless abyss at my feet, and out of it came--arising I know not from where--the current which I dare to call my life."
— Teilhard de Chardin

Monday, January 23, 2012

Living (in fear) in the Year of the Dragon

Here we go. First day of the Chinese New Year. Let the Year of the Dragon commence!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I, Fire Dragon

What with me resurrecting and renaming this blog and all, I figured it'd be useful to post a little about the sign of the Dragon and Fire Dragons. Enjoy.

Chinese Zodiac -  Dragon

Occupying the 5th position in the Chinese Zodiac, the Dragon is the mightiest of the signs. Dragons symbolize such character traits as dominance and ambition. Dragons prefer to live by their own rules and if left on their own, are usually successful. They’re driven, unafraid of challenges, and willing to take risks. They’re passionate in all they do and they do things in grand fashion. Unfortunately, this passion and enthusiasm can leave Dragons feeling exhausted and interestingly, unfulfilled.

While Dragons frequently help others, rarely will they ask for help. Others are attracted to Dragons, especially their colorful personalities, but deep down, Dragons prefer to be alone. Perhaps that is because they’re most successful when working alone. Their preference to be alone can come across as arrogance or conceitedness, but these qualities aren’t applicable. Dragons have tempers that can flare fast!

Dragons prefer leading to being led. Jobs that allow them to express their creativity are good choices. Some good careers include: inventor, manager, computer analyst, lawyer, engineer, architect, broker, and sales person.

Fire Dragons – Dragons born in 1916-17 and 1976-77

A Fire Dragon’s emotions can flare instantly. Fire Dragons put themselves on pedestals, and because they react quickly and recklessly, they sometimes make wrong decisions. Fire Dragons need to slow down and keep their tempers in check as that’s when they’re best.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Life that is Death that is Life

Much reflection the last several months on death. Not so much the final death, but more the small deaths along the way. Putting things to rest. Allowing the leaves to wither. Putting dreams away. Letting go.

It seems to me that life is a series of small deaths. And with each one, we must choose whether we'll accept the death or try to best it.

There are those deaths I have chosen to accept along the way. And there are those that I'll fight to outrun until I am finally gone. Or until I choose to give in. From fear. Or exhaustion. Or because it seems the right thing at some point along the way.

Rilke said that death is the one truth. I say that life is a series of deaths that we get to experience and interact with. What we do with those deaths determines what kind of life we'll live.

We are immortal. Until we die.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Compartmentalization versus Integration

Something has been plaguing me these last few months. Not in a really obnoxious way, but there all the same. A binary that is asking for judgement.

Of course, this happens to me all the time. I do really want to live well, to live (dare I say) right in the world. And this requires constant re-assessment of the values I choose to live by.

On NPR a few months back, a fella was being interviewed about the development of our human species. Things that make us unique, above the other animals. And one of those features was our ability to compartmentalize.

Now I've spent most of my life trying to understand integration. And that path led me in some frustrating (albeit enlightening) directions. For many years, I really wanted all to be centralized in my life. I sought for my values to be enacted at work, in play, with friends AND family. This meant some interesting things like choosing to work with clients we aligned with (and turning down others from time to time), choosing to live in particular areas (and not others), shop certain places, you get the idea.

But I realized a few things along the way:

  • Not all values are right for all situations. And most of life is nuanced.
  • Living by MY values all the time is very isolating and perhaps even very egocentric. It assumes that my values (no matter where they came from) are inherently RIGHT all the time.
  • It pumped my ego and made me feel as though I was living right.
  • It's just an impossibility. And I felt like a failure an awful lot.

But to say that compartmentalization is a higher virtue, well, that feels awkward to me. Yet it also feels right. I wonder if the cognitive dissonance is actually good for the soul. It complicates things. I guess it's what you do with these complexities that answers whether compartmentalization or integration are more virtuous.

And of course, they probably both are. But if they both are, then we essentially must nest compartmentalization into a greater integration, no?

Thursday, January 05, 2012


It's been a long time. And truthfully, I've not had much that I've wanted to say here. There is a season that is right and that season had waned into another. One marked by greater internalization.

But I am still here. And there.

I feel that I might pick this old public journal back up from time to time. Jot a few thoughts. Try to connect some of the dots inside that feel disconnected, yet related.

And this simple declaration is a first step for me. So let's see where this goes...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Reflecting on Rilke

So grateful for Krista Tippet's On Being. Especially this recent episode.

It brought me back to a Rilke poem I read years ago...
I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I've been circling for thousands of years
and I still don't know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?
It causes me to pause, breathe deep, and let out a long sigh. How I have been circling for thousands of years. Yes. I have.

Joanna Macy talks about her spiritual journey in the link above...and I found so much resonance with her ideas and feelings. I am so thankful that a show like On Being (previously Speaking of Faith) exists. This is a program that I doubt would have had much listenership in the decades prior. But I believe that our world is shifting. And I feel like On Being is a sort of artifact of that shift.

Yesterday, as I listened to this episode (again, linked above), I was brought down to earth, back to my self, my Self. And reminded who I am and what I have been doing with my life. Still, in so many ways I do not know: Am I a falcon, a storm, or a great song?