A Stone’s Throw

Oct 11, 2009

Emerging monarch To me, it always seems like there are times when we want change, and times when we don’t, and yet often those two timeframes coincide more than we think.  As a child I used to get terribly frustrated with the local news anchors who would complain to the weatherman, “Larry, when is it going to warm up for spring?”  And it seemed like not two weeks later those same anchors would say, “Larry, it’s too hot!  When is it going to cool down?”  The weather is just one thing that isn’t predictable, and I suppose that is where sayings arise such as, “The only sure things in life are death and taxes.”  But, there must be more than death and taxes, mustn’t there?  As humans, we are fascinated with the loss and gain of things.  All the way back to Greece there were plays and now we have movies of course, mostly concerned with the loss and gain of love, fortune, life, health, soul- you name it, you can find an audience who is interested in knowing whether it is lost or gained.  And, the reason we are so curious is because the struggle is something we all face, and so the watching of the saga unfold time and time again somehow doesn’t get old.

For myself, I notice my interest in these patterns, of loss and gain, gets most acute around the changing of the seasons.  In the spring there is something universal about the start of something new, and hence we are often encouraged (particularly by retail stores who would like to provide the replacements) to be “out with the old and in with the new.”  Strangely, I would much rather do a “Fall Cleaning” than one in the spring, but actually more often than not most years I prefer not to give away or change anything.  Bottom line, I don’t like to lose things.  Yet, to gain things, one must lose, don’t you think?  I heard an idea attributed to Jungian psychologist Robert Johnson the other day about sacrifice.  His idea is that sacrifice is not simply the giving up of things, but the giving up of small things in order to attain the larger things.  Of course, this does not mean material things only, and I am not suggesting the giving up of a raft for a yacht, although that may happen.  In a Jungian sense this is more likely the giving up of ego desires for soul desires.  For me, the idea was important because lately I have noticed that one result of this down economy is that it has caused an awareness of the fact that resources are finite.  We live in a world where things have limits it seems, and this may be a fact we forgot in the last decade or so.

Time, effort, money all these things have limits.  Limits bring the necessity of choice, since we can’t do or have it all, we must choose what we really, truly desire.  I know many people, myself included, who are considering major life transitions at this time.  In light of this idea about sacrifice, I think of it as giving up some things in order to do or have the thing that is truly desired.  For me, it may mean deciding to rent my home, so that I can apply those expenses to my stronger desire of my degree pursuit.  If you can’t do it all, which things will you do?  For me, the choice to stop attempting to do and have it all came with a blow because it felt like a failure of sorts.  However, with Robert Johnson’s idea of sacrifice, I now see it light of the fact that I have chosen to sacrifice one thing in pursuit of something I want even more.  It is like taking a trip, sometimes not everything we want to bring will fit in the suitcase, and we have to choose which things to bring, the ones that are the most useful, versatile, and able to travel with us to all the places we want to visit are usually the ones that end up in the bag, and if we’re really experienced, we know to leave enough room for souvenirs!

What about you?  How do you experience the cycles of loss and gain, and what do you see happening with them in light of the current economic situation?  And in another way we lose…I would like to acknowledge the amount of loss in the very tragic way of death -lately experienced by many of my friends and loved ones.  Sometimes this topic is almost too painful for words, but if you would like to share your thoughts, I’d love to hear them.

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