Another book from my journey

September 6, 2008 at 1:07 pm 4 comments

Having told you about the external aspects of my journey, there is one book I left out, because it needs a special place of its own. It’s a book that my mother recommended. But since she recommends so many books, I tend to refuse her suggestions, telling her that I find what I need anyway. While visiting with my aunt, the book was mentioned again. She had it there, so I took a look at it — and borrowed it for the night, promising to return with it the next day.

I read half of it, and decided I wanted to buy it. Fortunately, they had a copy of it at the Strand book store. What is it? The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling, by James Hillman. It definitely goes along with  several things I have been considering lately, but formulates it all in a much more convincing and elegant way than I have done in my humble thoughts.

Let’s see if I can convey some of the ideas. First of all, the idea that we all have our calling. That I have always believed — with more or less conviction. But what I got from this book is that feeling that it all truly does belong as it is. Thus there is no need to regret the past or beat myself up about mistakes and wrong turns. The rightness or wrongness is a matter of opinion, and all of it contributes to where I am right now. Suddenly I find myself convinced and see the beauty of the whole picture — that all of those fragments of the past are mere contributions, but each special in its own way. My sadness has faded a bit, to be replaced by a sense of wonder and acceptance. When I believe that all is well, that all is meant to be, a sense of calm peacefulness spreads through me. At one point, I even caught myself feeling hopeful and optimistic — without the familiar sensation of holding my breath in the process. This time I dare to believe in it. It is about the universe, like I’ve been saying all along, but somehow through reading this book, the idea has settled in a bit better, more deeply.

There is a saying in the 12-step programs: “God didn’t bring me this far to drop me now.” That I do believe. Absolutely.

There is a chapter on parenting. We choose our parents and the circumstances of our birth, then forget about it when we come into this world. Our children choose us as parents as well. A few years ago I read a book about Bhagwan (a Hindu swami) as told by one of his followers, who was also a swami. He told the story about how his father consulted an astrologer at his birth. The astrologer predicted that his son would become a holy man. The father was quite upset, preferring that his son be financially successful, and did everything in his power to prevent this. He failed. At the time, I felt a surge of relief, as I’d felt sad and guilty about not being the perfect mother. It is a comfort to realize that my children have their own destiny, independent of me. Even though I made and will continue to make mistakes along the way, they will thrive.

Yes, not only did I choose my parents, but my own children chose theirs as well. Through reading the book, I realized that they chose ME to be their mother, me as I am. Like Hillman says: We are not becoming anyone. We are who we are. I am who I am. Now. Thus it is my responsibility to be myself and fulfill my destiny, as that is the mother my children chose. I owe it to myself, and to them.

We each have our calling, our purpose in this world. It is a calling to fulfill our personal destiny, as well as to make our contribution to our fellow inhabitants, regardless of how large or small. (In case there is any confusion, this refers to the size of the contribution, not the size of the inhabitants!!) Each of us matters. Sometimes everything seems to fall into place. Other times, the hindrances appear invincible and the struggle seems to be hopeless. Yet we sail and trudge onward, respectively.

The last day I spent in my childhood home, I was overcome with sadness. I splurged on breakfast — drove into town to pick up coffee and a bagel, then drove back home again so I could sit outside on the step and enjoy the sun, listen to the wind in the trees, watch the birds, and think. Yes, I know, I keep mentioning the wind in the trees. The house is surrounded by trees, and it really is quite powerful. I cried as I said goodbye to the house. On the train to New York City, I consciously decided not to be sad and regret past choices, but to be happy that I had been there and able to experience such perfect happiness. Two days later I started reading that book, and it all seemed to fall into place.

For today I concentrate on the beauty of my life, on the amazing twists and turns. Many times I felt that I was guided, that I wasn’t really deciding but simply following a plan. Today, with my awareness and all that I have realized over the past weeks and months, I feel strong and determined. It’s not so much that I just know what I want, but I believe that it is my destiny and I am ready and willing to do all that is necessary to fulfill it. In the past, some decisions were made because I thought I was taking the easy way out. I don’t want to do that any more. True, the ultimate development is not only the result of a conscious decision. Fate and the universe have their say as well, but I do not believe that my efforts will be in vain. Either way, it doesn’t really matter.

One last thought: I really could have listened to my mother in the first place about reading this book! But children are stubborn and have to figure things out for themselves. Even if they’ll be 46 in just a couple of weeks!

Entry filed under: literature, Visiting home/travelling. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

Some highlights from home The effects of sleep

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. fromtheadagio  |  September 7, 2008 at 8:33 am

    To choose a parent! A terrible responsibility! Thrown into being – how many more things have we to worry about. I admit, I am the spitting image of my parents. But, if I choose them, do I merely access the potentialities unavailable to them during their life-time? Is my illustration of my independence a supreme choice of birth? It is a bit to digest for me, as I’ve recently completed my Cambridge Series of Nietzsche’s complete works. But perhaps your mother has made a brilliant choice of literature to read. Who will deny that they are exactly the conclusion of the life they have led, as if the puzzle merely needed a hand to complete it? I’ve thought of myself as springing loose, like grape-shot from rifle fire. But when I land in an infidel’s chest, I am exactly planted as I planned. I am exactly the hieroglyph I carved of myself on the wall – next to my image is my mother…as she drew herself when her youth stood.

  • 2. diaryofarecoveredbulimic  |  September 7, 2008 at 11:00 am

    I would question that about merely accessing the potentialities unavailable to our parents. Perhaps it is a sort of evolution of potential, although there are enough examples of children completely different from their parents. Hard to say.
    As far as my mother’s choice of literature, in general I am a staunch believer in the right book falling into our hands at the right time. That is very impressive that you have gotten through Nietzsche’s complete works. I started reading him in high school, but then bulimarexia and drugs put my brain on hold for a while. Since then I never did get back to where I left off. But there’s always something new to distract me.
    My mother asked me if this is all about free will. That question goes beyond my capacity to sort things out. Or it would lead to an endless discussion and thought process. That is the joy of being human — that we can twist and turn our thoughts and interpretations to fit our needs and opinions. I suppose that is also the danger of being human.
    Sorry, this isn’t really going anywhere. I didn’t sleep well last night.

  • 3. fromtheadagio  |  September 7, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Similarly, I had been up for nearly 24 hours at the time of writing my response. Re-reading it, it may be the most garbled piece of bombast I’ve ever had the embarrassment of slapping on someone’s comment page. Sorry. I hope you get some rest.

  • 4. diaryofarecoveredbulimic  |  September 7, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    No problem. After writing a journal for nearly 35 years, I can confidently say: “Been there, done that.” I was amazed at some of the garble I sifted through while working on the book. But it is fun to go off on tangents, and depending on what we read at the time, our writing is certainly influenced by it.
    Tonight should be better. Kids have to go to school tomorrow, so there won’t be any 1 am phone calls. Whew!


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