It has been a while since my last post. I have been spending time with grandchildren and helping out with various tasks at the home of one of my children. Spending time in their home, I am reminded of my own years of being hyper-busy with life while my children were growing up. Between a career, a family and the engagement with community because of career and family, there was no time for an inner world in that first half of life – and that, was as it should be. Taking time now for grand-parenting isn’t as easy as one would think it could be, at least that is what I am finding.
It is easy to love my grandchildren, to be with them and play. But, I find that I run out of energy and that my focus isn’t able to hold as much as I would want. In the process, I am learning a lesson about “presence” that doesn’t exactly make sense. Usually I have thought of being present as an activity of the outer world, especially in relationship to others and to tasks in the outer world. However I am learning that being present is not just about the outer world.
There are processes that are at work within me, in my inner psychic world that need to be attended, to be honoured with my conscious presence. Whenever I avoid attending, being present, with this inner life, I find myself fading in terms of energy. I have tried ensuring that my presence in the outer world is heightened when this begins to occur only to find out that my failure to attend the inner psychic life results in my presence in the outer world becoming ghost-like. I am then not really in either place but lost in some limbo space. I become a shell of a person with my body simply being a placeholder for my return to presence. My body and mind are not at ease. And, it is typically at these times that I slip into another episode of dark nights of the soul.
“A dark night may appear, paradoxically, as a way to return to living. It pares life down to its essentials and helps you get a new start.” [Moore, Dark Nights of the Soul, p. xv]
I guess that this slipping back into another episode is something good if I think of it as Thomas Moore suggests here. Moore also suggests that:
“Your purpose in life may be to become more who you are and more engaged with people and life around you, to really live your life.”
And, that purpose is found in the wrestling with the darker side of who I am, who each of us are. We are not our ego; we are not the roles in which others see us and get to know us. To really live one’s life requires that one intimately knows who one is, both the darkness and the light of the whole self. A descent into one’s dark night of the soul is a blessing in disguise. In the darkness we can’t see ourselves as others see us, we are forced beneath our personae, beneath the layers of clothing within which we protect our vulnerability.
We become like a caterpillar which must shed its protective layer in order to be transformed. Our transformations lead us to a more authentic self, one that is transparent. Naturism helps me in this transformative journey. The shedding of clothing is an act of becoming vulnerable, of being forced to admit, at least at the level of my body, that this is me. This physical act of becoming vulnerable somehow allows me to risk exposing the inner self, including the shadows that haunt my darkness. And somewhere along the way, body and soul unite in a healing process, a transformative process.