My own dark night


I am reading an interesting book, “Dark Nights of the Soul” by Thomas Moore. In it he writes –

“Every human life is made up of the light and the dark, the happy and the sad, the vital and the deadening. How you think about this rhythm of moods makes all the difference. Are you going to hide out in self-delusion and distracting entertainments? Are you going to become cynical or depressed? Or are you going to open your heart to a mystery that is as natural as the sun and the moon, day and night, and summer and winter?”

A dark night can be many things from severe depression to a period in our lives when we doubt ourselves. Moore states that we should embrace these dark nights as an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and that if we do that we will emerge at the end of our own dark nights with an insight and clarity about who we are that we did not have before.

I have often used the analogy in writing about midlife using the river journey and that a midlife episode is when we find ourselves with a need to find a backwater and sort through things before we are ready to get back into the current. There is a problem with that analogy when it is observed by people from the outside. Questions arise about why decisions weren’t made more quickly, why in fact no decisions appear to being made at all. The person in the backwater can be seen as being totally selfish, as keeping other people on hold whilst they sort their own shit out. The observer does not necessarily understand that the process of sorting through the rubbish takes time and whilst it appears that someone is just treading water progress is actually being made.

In this book Moore uses the analogy of Jonah and the Whale. I won’t go into a lot of detail about the actual story here but suffice to say that Jonah ran from his obligation to God and found himself swallowed by a whale. He sat in the whale’s bely for three days and nights and could do nothing other than ponder his fate.

The point of the story in the midlife context for me is this. To an observer simply watching Jonah there appears to be nothing happening. He cannot move around, he cannot escape, he can do nothing but sit there and think. If the observer was able to take a step back then they would see that whilst Jonah appears to be immobile, he is actually moving in a direction that does give him insight into his fate, both through the process of contemplation and prayer, but also physically through the movement of the whale.

My whale was my childhood beliefs. That was the vessel that bound me in indecisiveness and was the reason I appeared to be unmoving to the observers. And it was in unravelling their mystery that I was able to set myself free to move forward once again.

I have also come to understand that the journey cannot be forced that in some ways the memories or chains that do bind us are like combination locks. You cannot move on to the next tumbler until the last one clicks into place. So whilst the time taken in the process does not suit the observers, the person whose journey it is can only move at his own pace.

*********************************************************
This is a song for my Dark Night

The photo is one I took at Ao Nang on the recent trip to Thailand.

My own dark night


I am reading an interesting book, “Dark Nights of the Soul” by Thomas Moore. In it he writes –

“Every human life is made up of the light and the dark, the happy and the sad, the vital and the deadening. How you think about this rhythm of moods makes all the difference. Are you going to hide out in self-delusion and distracting entertainments? Are you going to become cynical or depressed? Or are you going to open your heart to a mystery that is as natural as the sun and the moon, day and night, and summer and winter?”

A dark night can be many things from severe depression to a period in our lives when we doubt ourselves. Moore states that we should embrace these dark nights as an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and that if we do that we will emerge at the end of our own dark nights with an insight and clarity about who we are that we did not have before.

I have often used the analogy in writing about midlife using the river journey and that a midlife episode is when we find ourselves with a need to find a backwater and sort through things before we are ready to get back into the current. There is a problem with that analogy when it is observed by people from the outside. Questions arise about why decisions weren’t made more quickly, why in fact no decisions appear to being made at all. The person in the backwater can be seen as being totally selfish, as keeping other people on hold whilst they sort their own shit out. The observer does not necessarily understand that the process of sorting through the rubbish takes time and whilst it appears that someone is just treading water progress is actually being made.

In this book Moore uses the analogy of Jonah and the Whale. I won’t go into a lot of detail about the actual story here but suffice to say that Jonah ran from his obligation to God and found himself swallowed by a whale. He sat in the whale’s bely for three days and nights and could do nothing other than ponder his fate.

The point of the story in the midlife context for me is this. To an observer simply watching Jonah there appears to be nothing happening. He cannot move around, he cannot escape, he can do nothing but sit there and think. If the observer was able to take a step back then they would see that whilst Jonah appears to be immobile, he is actually moving in a direction that does give him insight into his fate, both through the process of contemplation and prayer, but also physically through the movement of the whale.

My whale was my childhood beliefs. That was the vessel that bound me in indecisiveness and was the reason I appeared to be unmoving to the observers. And it was in unravelling their mystery that I was able to set myself free to move forward once again.

I have also come to understand that the journey cannot be forced that in some ways the memories or chains that do bind us are like combination locks. You cannot move on to the next tumbler until the last one clicks into place. So whilst the time taken in the process does not suit the observers, the person whose journey it is can only move at his own pace.

*********************************************************
This is a song for my Dark Night

The photo is one I took at Ao Nang on the recent trip to Thailand.

My own dark night


I am reading an interesting book, “Dark Nights of the Soul” by Thomas Moore. In it he writes –

“Every human life is made up of the light and the dark, the happy and the sad, the vital and the deadening. How you think about this rhythm of moods makes all the difference. Are you going to hide out in self-delusion and distracting entertainments? Are you going to become cynical or depressed? Or are you going to open your heart to a mystery that is as natural as the sun and the moon, day and night, and summer and winter?”

A dark night can be many things from severe depression to a period in our lives when we doubt ourselves. Moore states that we should embrace these dark nights as an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and that if we do that we will emerge at the end of our own dark nights with an insight and clarity about who we are that we did not have before.

I have often used the analogy in writing about midlife using the river journey and that a midlife episode is when we find ourselves with a need to find a backwater and sort through things before we are ready to get back into the current. There is a problem with that analogy when it is observed by people from the outside. Questions arise about why decisions weren’t made more quickly, why in fact no decisions appear to being made at all. The person in the backwater can be seen as being totally selfish, as keeping other people on hold whilst they sort their own shit out. The observer does not necessarily understand that the process of sorting through the rubbish takes time and whilst it appears that someone is just treading water progress is actually being made.

In this book Moore uses the analogy of Jonah and the Whale. I won’t go into a lot of detail about the actual story here but suffice to say that Jonah ran from his obligation to God and found himself swallowed by a whale. He sat in the whale’s bely for three days and nights and could do nothing other than ponder his fate.

The point of the story in the midlife context for me is this. To an observer simply watching Jonah there appears to be nothing happening. He cannot move around, he cannot escape, he can do nothing but sit there and think. If the observer was able to take a step back then they would see that whilst Jonah appears to be immobile, he is actually moving in a direction that does give him insight into his fate, both through the process of contemplation and prayer, but also physically through the movement of the whale.

My whale was my childhood beliefs. That was the vessel that bound me in indecisiveness and was the reason I appeared to be unmoving to the observers. And it was in unravelling their mystery that I was able to set myself free to move forward once again.

I have also come to understand that the journey cannot be forced that in some ways the memories or chains that do bind us are like combination locks. You cannot move on to the next tumbler until the last one clicks into place. So whilst the time taken in the process does not suit the observers, the person whose journey it is can only move at his own pace.

*********************************************************
This is a song for my Dark Night

The photo is one I took at Ao Nang on the recent trip to Thailand.

Time to move

We have spent the last couple of weekends looking at houses. The unit we are renting has served it’s purpose but we now find that there are one and a half children at least who wish to live with us and the unit is too small to accomodate everyone.

But we don’t have a lot to spend so it’s going to be a bit of pot luck in finding something affordable that is halfway decent. Not impossible but tough. There are two we are looking at pretty closely at the moment but both are only two bedroom although they do have a fairly easy conversion of a garage into a bungalow which we may need to do. Three bedroom houses or units of similar quality are around $40-50k beyond our budget.

Melbourne’s weather has been oppressive for most of the last week with temperatures hitting close to 40 again today. I know that’s not as bad as Adelaide Gypsy [if you’re reading] but still way too hot for March.

We will need to put an offer in on one of the houses tomorrow and the other later in the week so wish us luck.

Time to move

We have spent the last couple of weekends looking at houses. The unit we are renting has served it’s purpose but we now find that there are one and a half children at least who wish to live with us and the unit is too small to accomodate everyone.

But we don’t have a lot to spend so it’s going to be a bit of pot luck in finding something affordable that is halfway decent. Not impossible but tough. There are two we are looking at pretty closely at the moment but both are only two bedroom although they do have a fairly easy conversion of a garage into a bungalow which we may need to do. Three bedroom houses or units of similar quality are around $40-50k beyond our budget.

Melbourne’s weather has been oppressive for most of the last week with temperatures hitting close to 40 again today. I know that’s not as bad as Adelaide Gypsy [if you’re reading] but still way too hot for March.

We will need to put an offer in on one of the houses tomorrow and the other later in the week so wish us luck.

They Don’t Understand

I am beginning to think that one of my greatest failures was to tread water after the separation. Perhaps I should have made decisions more quickly to allow the healing process to begin earlier. I’ve thought about that over and over again and I keep coming up with the same conclusion. I wasn’t able to.

Whether the midlife episode includes a separation or the desire to buy a fast car or drop out of the ratrace for a while is in a lot of ways immaterial. For me it was characterised by confusion, by a total lack of self esteem [and I’ll tackle that one in another post] and an inability to actually put things into context.

I was not able to actually move forward until I had a number of counselling sessions and I was finally able to put some of my childhood beliefs into context. And that was the true revelation.

I had grown up thinking that I had shouldered responsibilities that were thrust upon me from an early age when what I had actually done was run away from them and hidden in my bedroom through much of my teenage years. As a consequence I grew up unable to open myself up to truly intimate contact or to true deep and abiding friendship.

Am I going to apologise for treading water? No. I couldn’t do anything else until I had sorted through all the other baggage and the problem was I didn’t even know what the baggage was at the time. So for those who criticise that indecisiveness consider what you may also do in the same situation because you may one day also walk in my shoes.

They Don’t Understand

I am beginning to think that one of my greatest failures was to tread water after the separation. Perhaps I should have made decisions more quickly to allow the healing process to begin earlier. I’ve thought about that over and over again and I keep coming up with the same conclusion. I wasn’t able to.

Whether the midlife episode includes a separation or the desire to buy a fast car or drop out of the ratrace for a while is in a lot of ways immaterial. For me it was characterised by confusion, by a total lack of self esteem [and I’ll tackle that one in another post] and an inability to actually put things into context.

I was not able to actually move forward until I had a number of counselling sessions and I was finally able to put some of my childhood beliefs into context. And that was the true revelation.

I had grown up thinking that I had shouldered responsibilities that were thrust upon me from an early age when what I had actually done was run away from them and hidden in my bedroom through much of my teenage years. As a consequence I grew up unable to open myself up to truly intimate contact or to true deep and abiding friendship.

Am I going to apologise for treading water? No. I couldn’t do anything else until I had sorted through all the other baggage and the problem was I didn’t even know what the baggage was at the time. So for those who criticise that indecisiveness consider what you may also do in the same situation because you may one day also walk in my shoes.

They Don’t Understand

I am beginning to think that one of my greatest failures was to tread water after the separation. Perhaps I should have made decisions more quickly to allow the healing process to begin earlier. I’ve thought about that over and over again and I keep coming up with the same conclusion. I wasn’t able to.

Whether the midlife episode includes a separation or the desire to buy a fast car or drop out of the ratrace for a while is in a lot of ways immaterial. For me it was characterised by confusion, by a total lack of self esteem [and I’ll tackle that one in another post] and an inability to actually put things into context.

I was not able to actually move forward until I had a number of counselling sessions and I was finally able to put some of my childhood beliefs into context. And that was the true revelation.

I had grown up thinking that I had shouldered responsibilities that were thrust upon me from an early age when what I had actually done was run away from them and hidden in my bedroom through much of my teenage years. As a consequence I grew up unable to open myself up to truly intimate contact or to true deep and abiding friendship.

Am I going to apologise for treading water? No. I couldn’t do anything else until I had sorted through all the other baggage and the problem was I didn’t even know what the baggage was at the time. So for those who criticise that indecisiveness consider what you may also do in the same situation because you may one day also walk in my shoes.

Victim, Judge or Both

“How many times do we pay for one mistake? The answer is thousands of times. The human is the only animal on Earth that pays a thousand times for the same mistake. The rest of the animals pay once for every mistake they make. But not us. We have a powerful memory. We make a mistake, we judge ourselves, we find ourselves guilty, and we punish ourselves. If justice exists, then that was enough, we don’t need to do it again. But every time we remember, we juge ourselves again, we are guilty again, and we punish ourselves again and again…”

Don Miguel Ruiz – The Four Agreements

I have mentioned this book many times before because it became the road map by which I was able to leave the backwaters and start to live again. But there are still times when I fall into old habits and with the comments from my friends and former family I find that again I am judging myself, again I am guilty and again I seek punishment. This comes in the form of restless sleep, perhaps of ungracious thoughts about other people, certainly in belting myself up about things again.

The very worst part is that you feel the need to step on eggshells again and maybe begin to compromise on what you think is the right thing. Despite the rocky start to the last week it ended well, far better than I expected and I am really grateful for that, but with the guilt I find that I look over my shoulder and constantly expect the worst.

So I sit here wondering what is going to go wrong this week knowing that those sort of feelings have absolutely no rational basis.

Victim, Judge or Both

“How many times do we pay for one mistake? The answer is thousands of times. The human is the only animal on Earth that pays a thousand times for the same mistake. The rest of the animals pay once for every mistake they make. But not us. We have a powerful memory. We make a mistake, we judge ourselves, we find ourselves guilty, and we punish ourselves. If justice exists, then that was enough, we don’t need to do it again. But every time we remember, we juge ourselves again, we are guilty again, and we punish ourselves again and again…”

Don Miguel Ruiz – The Four Agreements

I have mentioned this book many times before because it became the road map by which I was able to leave the backwaters and start to live again. But there are still times when I fall into old habits and with the comments from my friends and former family I find that again I am judging myself, again I am guilty and again I seek punishment. This comes in the form of restless sleep, perhaps of ungracious thoughts about other people, certainly in belting myself up about things again.

The very worst part is that you feel the need to step on eggshells again and maybe begin to compromise on what you think is the right thing. Despite the rocky start to the last week it ended well, far better than I expected and I am really grateful for that, but with the guilt I find that I look over my shoulder and constantly expect the worst.

So I sit here wondering what is going to go wrong this week knowing that those sort of feelings have absolutely no rational basis.

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