Friday, May 1, 2009

Asking the Right Questions




When I wrote that I was going to take a sabbatical in order to consider some “new” questions about my life and my purpose I didn’t know at the time just what the “new” questions were going to be. I think I expected them to simply be a rehash of questions I have asked myself most of my life. That is the way the journey began, but it is not how it turned out.

It seems there are points in the lives of each of us where we feel a greater need for introspection, meditation, or contemplation because we feel a bit like a boat without a rudder. A boat without a rudder may sail along just fine, unless you want to go somewhere specific. Then you discover that without the rudder you aimlessly drift along with little satisfaction or sense of accomplishment.

I have come to points like this several times in my life. These plateaus where we find it necessary to take a break for a while are not necessarily negative events nor do they indicate a lack of life value. They are simply places where we have the opportunity to review our priorities and consider altering our direction.

This time around, my questions seem to center on getting a better understanding of my feminine nature. I wanted to better understand my feelings, my empathetic nature and why deep emotions seem to surface so dramatically for me at times.
Asking the proper question is the central action of transformation—in fairy tales, in analysis, and in individuation. The key question causes germination of consciousness. The properly shaped question always emanates from an essential curiosity about what stands behind. Questions are the keys that cause the secret doors of the psyche to swing open. 1
Somewhere within me there is an aching, a longing that has been expressing itself more and more often as deep feelings of connection with some of my fellow human beings, not necessarily anyone I know personally. The feelings surge up when I see others hurting or feeling alone without the company of others who might be supportive in their time of need. I may see this in a television drama, the evening news, and the newspaper or just about anywhere one hears about others and their difficulties. It also wells up in me when I become aware of significant help someone extends to another, a random act of kindness. Both negative and positive stories attract my sense of empathy.

The curiosity that stands behind the questions I ask myself about why I have these feelings and what I am supposed to do with them hopefully will open more widely the secret doors of my own psyche.
Often the creative life is slowed or stopped because something in the psyche has a very low opinion of us, and we are down there groveling at its feet instead of bopping it over the head and running free. In many cases what is required to aright the situation is that we take ourselves, our ideas, our art, far more seriously than we have done before. 2
I find this notion particularly interesting. Realizing that the blocks I might feel in my creative life could be an inner low self-image certainly is not a new notion, but seeing it in print gave me the opportunity to look at that issue again, perhaps opening the “secret doors” of my psyche. For the most part I feel I am aware of the self-image limitations I have placed upon myself, so my questions were to get at how to handle the empathetic emotions that overwhelm me at times. What is their productive use? (My pragmatism and logic at work, which takes me away from the feelings and into my masculine mind.)

The larger questions to be considered are: What/who am I really? What is my work in this life? What do I hunger for? What do I long for? Additionally, I think I must come to terms with whether I believe in my ability to do what my life experiences require of me in order to enter into transformation. Am I simply sitting on the sidelines because it is comfortable there and there is less to challenge my status quo? Or, is my apparent sideline sitting really just an opportunity to consider new ventures and to find ways to utilize the skills and belief systems I have developed through the years?

As you can see, I have not finished my quest (and I don’t think we are designed to “finish” our quest anyway!). However, I have gained some new insights that I plan to share in later postings, so stay tuned.

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1 Women Who Run With the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PhD, page 52
2 Ibid, Page 70

2 comments:

Kimeleon said...

"Often the creative life is slowed or stopped because something in the psyche has a very low opinion of us, and we are down there groveling at its feet instead of bopping it over the head and running free."

Oh golly gee, does this ring true for me! Am at a transition point in my life, starting a new (paying!) job tomorrow and it will be 2 weeks that I have not smoked. I am on a new med that has given me energy and made me nervous, anxious, and ecstatic in turns. It is meant to help me past the nicotine withdrawals which had me in tears every day.

I will take this quote in its entirety and keep it with me to remind me to take my art more seriously. That is what I want to live for (besides love of course) Art is what I long to make and to live.


Thank you, my friend Dan, for planting this seed in my head at a time of transition and crossroads and all that jazz. And be reminded again that you are a jewel and a treasure of a friend and will not leave this planet unchanged!!! Certainly my life has been influenced by your words many times and I am eternally grateful for your sharing your introspection and journey. Come to AZ before it gets too hot!

Dan Perin said...

Thanks, Kim! I am glad this posting came at just the right time for you. I surely support you in this time of new ventures in your work and your health. YOU are special and I am glad to watch your growth.