Posts Tagged ‘individuation’

Maybe it’s all about love

November 16, 2011

“What are you, Johnny Appleseed?” Peter said, with what felt like mocking contempt.  He was teaching me to be a psychologist, a certain kind of psychologist.

Navy blazer, grey slacks, leather chairs, the austerity of analytic psychology itself a gardened hedge against the chaos of badly wounded psyches and the mayhem of human behavior.

Who am I to plant seeds?  And besides, perhaps it’s the tree itself, and not the snake much less God 2.0, that has played us:  “Hey kids, whatever you do, do not eat that fruit.”  It’s not only bears that shit in the forest.  Really love your peaches, but your tree shakes me.

It was a woman’s hundredth birthday party when I saw Peter in a lovely, albeit cool and drizzly, garden.  Over twenty years his blue eyes had grown soft and his graying beard was soft too.  His leather jacket was soft and his velvet handshake as good as a hug.  Looking into my eyes he said, about therapy, but probably about everything:  “It’s all about love.”

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Brushstrokes and Butterfly Kisses

August 3, 2011

Do you ever feel like you’re getting the same message in stereo—from multiple sources, perhaps in Surround Sound or Dolby?

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s book, My Stroke of Insight was recommended to me by both my mom (for better insight into my dad’s stroke) and by Andy (who thought it rather interesting) and by Mark at The Committed Parent.  But we don’t listen, do we… not until some strange dark night of the soul sends us scrambling, under a fully agitated moon, fingers restlessly crossing bookbindings and dust like a spider, searching for wolfsbane, or phosphorus, or just the right page in some arcane alchemical text… searching for the balm, for just the ticket to soothe the savage heart.

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Panic in Piddle Park: Self and Self-Esteem

June 29, 2011

A recent Atlantic article by Lori Gottlieb, “How to Land Your Kid in Therapy,” goes by a different hook on the magazine’s cover:  “How the Cult of Self-Esteem is Ruining our Kids.”

It’s summer so I’ll keep it brief:  fear-driven pitches sell books and magazines but do little to help parents do better with children.  The end.

*

But… if you’ve got a couple of extra minutes we can drill a little deeper.  Gottlieb traces the ever-swinging parenting-styles pendulum that proves about as helpful as an Edgar Allen Poe accompaniment to the pit.

The experts tell us that we’re messing up our kids, and then we embrace this year’s new-new panacea.  We’re giving too many choices.  We’re telling kids they are special when they are not.  We are failing to say no and set limits.  We are failing to give our kids space to separate from us and learn from a little adversity.

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Eat, Poop, Be On Our Way: Diarrhea at Delphi

June 22, 2011

Maybe it was a bad piece of goat, in fact I’m pretty sure it was some bad goat… but who the hell eats goat in the first place?  Especially from some sketchy food cart on a filthy Athens side street.  But we were young and hungry and the tour-bus was about to depart on a three-hour ride to the mysterious Oracle at Delphi; and whatever was roasting there on the cart smelled, more or less, good… and looked, more or less, like Gyros… which was something we were used to from Greek joints in Chicago.

This was thirty-one years ago as I write, a twentieth birthday had in a cheap pensionne in Rome and a summer solstice sunset dropped softly into the Aegean in Corfu… and now a trip to the center of the ancient Greek world—of which I knew absolutely nothing—a couple of Jewish college boys blithely slouching toward pagan central.  Yet I never think of the summer solstice without thinking of the bittersweet birth of darkness—the longest day a birth (six months later) of darkest night; just as the darkest day in December births the light.

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350 in dog years

June 18, 2010

I entered the world like a trickster

Coaxed by the smell of barbeque

But the Jewess princess was

Drugged and passed out

By the time I arrived

Into Cold male hands and

Even colder light

*

At five I nearly barfed

At Kiddie Land

The “fun” fire truck

An overwhelming howl

*

Ten brought Slimy wood

And barred breath

Trapped under a dock

Sunlight like candy behind

Nose-pressed glass

As men neared the moon

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Adulthood begins at 27

June 16, 2010

This is a season when the dust is starting to settle around all our recent graduates, ranging from kindergarten to graduate school.

I have long argued in my own writing that adulthood no longer actually occurs in our culture at the point that most of us say that it begins (twenty to twenty-two).  A recent New York Times article by Patricia Cohen, Long Road to Adulthood is Growing Even Longer bears this out with an accruing host of facts and figures.

Social scientists and policy makers are noticing that there is a newly emerging phase in many Americans’ lives in which they are no longer adolescents and not yet adults.  Obama’s shift to allow children up to twenty-six to be on their parents’ health insurance plans, as well as shifts in the average age for marriage now (27 for males, 27 for females) underscore the late blooming trend.

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When writing gets leathery

June 15, 2010

Deep in the matrix of my psyche I associate writing with leather.  Not because of leather-bound volumes in oak paneled libraries, but because of coats—leather coats.

When I was a kid my dad had a friend who had a leather factory on the far south side of Chicago, near to where my dad had grown up.  The old Jewish quasi ghetto had morphed into an African American quasi ghetto.

Being middle class Jews trapped in some never-pay-retail internalized racism, it happened that my family once rode forever through a Chicago winter, arriving at a freezing warehouse filled with dead cow skin sewn into every variation of a coat that a pimp could want.

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WAAG!

June 13, 2010

I’m soon to be fifty, but right now I’m still 49, and so I must admit that I was slightly deflated to receive my AARP Card in the mail (or at least my “offer,” of one—not that I don’t appreciate how the sample card is twice as big as any regular sort of card that would currently fit into my pre-retirement wallet—and with letters so big as to be not blurry to aging eyes).

Still, when I think “retirement,” I think luxury; Janice Ian singing, “I learned the truth as seventeen, that love was meant for beauty queens and high school girls with clear skinned smiles who married young and then retired.”

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My kid the… squatter?

June 12, 2010

A recent article in the New York Times Magazine by Jake Halpern, The Freegan Establishment fascinated me from a parenting perspective.

It is about several people, who seem at first glance as lost souls, who have squatted in homes and worked to create an alternative approach to living—eschewing money, yet working diligently to fix up a crumbling and abandoned mansion while dumpster diving to secure food.

The squatters open the house to residents who contribute, and to drifters who are welcome for a day or two, but who must apply to be accepted (based on bottom line contributions they can make via work) if they wish to stay longer.

Several things intrigued me about this social experiment:  the history of a Brit who fell upon hard times in the 17th century and formed a short-lived utopia free of money which he later wrote extensively about, which in turn inspired the “digger” movement in 1960s San Francisco, which all relates to Thoreau, Marxism, materialism, communism and a host of great social, political and psychological questions.

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Abby Normal

June 11, 2010

I went to sleep last night with prayers for Abby Sunderland in my heart.

I awoke to learn that she is okay, and I am delighted and relieved for that.

What I wish to say today is that Abby’s situation is a perfect confluence of the opposites (the very place where the transcendent, sublime, even divine is most likely to show up).

Abby’s brother sailed around the world alone—the youngest to do it.  Abby wanted to do it too, to get the crown of youngest to sail around the world alone.  Note how many opposites this collective focal point conjures: life and death, over-protection and under-protection, bravery and fear, equipment and nature, togetherness and isolation, young and old, water and land, safety and adventure, “good” parenting and “bad” parenting, giving up and keeping on, ego and oceanic oneness.

Given that my aim is to enhance consciousness toward the benefit of the collective, my personal opinions about whether or not, as a parent, I would let my own sixteen-year-old sail around the world alone (I’m nervous for him to start driving lessons) is at least partially beside the point.

I went to sleep with images of “pitch-poling” and “submarining” in my mind’s eye—the experts conjectures of what 25 foot waves in 80 knot winds might do to cause a sailor to hit the rescue-me button (a forty foot boat flipping end over end; nose-diving straight down the face of giant waves and capsizing into 50 degree water).

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