The Play of LIfe

In the play of life, the soulful performance of those things that emerge from the hidden places will reveal the blessings and curses for what they are–the material of the creative and engaged self. I saw it written somewhere that “art” is not in the eye of the beholder; rather, “Art” is in the soul of the artist. This is where we have forgotten ourselves–art, our art, the art that is ever striving to find expression and a way out, is within. And, it is in the play of life, the rambunctious gamboling of daily living, where we will find it.

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Fundamental to the nature of risk is danger—to self and to others.

Risk means exposing one’s self and others to danger. Hopefully, one takes daily risk for gain–in experience or material reward.

However, risk always includes some potential for actual disaster and tragedy. When events turn tragic, and sooner or later they will, they will do so costing those things not expected or even considered. In most cases, this is a catastrophe that one cannot have prepared for—materially, psychologically, or spiritually, and the soul pays the price. For the unprepared, inexperienced, and the reckless risk is a terrible teacher.

It is important  to understand each one of us is responsible for the outcome of the risks we take—regardless of how they manifest. The particular difficulty, especially when others are included, is the need both anticipate and to be consciously responsible for unforeseen outcomes. When tragedy strikes, the desire is to look for reasons, excuses, or some way to avoid culpability. The truth of the matter, however, is that when you take risk and it goes awry, it is on you—no matter who else is involved. This is particularly true when one risks others.

The one most devastating outcomes of great risk is success, for success breed’s contempt for the tragic. All successful risks come with a hidden trap, “It worked this time…” The world is full of devastation and grief from those who were successful in the past.

So, should risks never be taken? Of course not, risk brings the important lessons that are the foundation of wisdom. Lessons learned, however, are not wisdom. In the old stories, the wise old man waiting at the edge of the village for the returning young hero knows things that the hero cannot. When the returning hero meets with the wise man, a filtering process begins. An alchemical distillation occurs turning the heroic gifts into something beneficial for the people. Yet, It is here that the greatest trap lies in wait—if the wise man is not there, or is seduced by the glamor of the hero trying to emulate him or her, then this important alchemical process is neglected or avoided and a kind of toxicity may be allowed into the community and infect the people. Tragically often this toxicity goes unnoticed and is disastrous in most uncommon ways.

So, take risks with care. There are gifts to be found, but tragedy as well.

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The Sage and the Warrior

“On the archetypal level, it is the Sage (metal) who tones down an
overzealous Warrior (wood) by bringing in the aspect of awareness.
Sage energy is required to question the purpose of any endeavor so
that the Warrior is not in service of a false King.”

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What to Bring

“Myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human manifestation.” (Campbell, Hero With a Thousand Faces 163). 

Each day, think about what to bring. When gathering our selves together for ritual of life, it is important to bring “everything.” To assume that a large suitcase is expected is more than strictly needed, though it is apparent through some examples that this is not unreasonable. Regardless, when we move through the world, we carry with us all of our experience, wisdom, and abilities so that we will be able to meet the demands of daily life. While habit and commonplace experience would seem to expect little of us, events like the disaster in Japan are examples of what is possible in the world we live in.

At no other time in human history has there been as little confronting our daily life in the form of life and death as now. We can fully expect to rise in the morning after a good night of sleep, go about our business of “gathering” for food, clothing, shelter, and entertainment, and do so with little fear that we will face anything more serious than crossing a busy street. There are no (or few) lions for us to face. As a result our psyche, built to deal with lions, is faced with a kind of atrophy that can be most insidious—with a thin cotton shirt, a pair of shorts and flip-flops, we can reasonably expect to survive the day. Attention is not needed, weapons are not needed, even a keen sense of self is not needed; nor are abilities beyond the capacity to speak and walk demanded of us to get through most days. The startling reality is that even the most adept of us would find it incredibly difficult to survive more than a few days outside of our “normal” realms.

In a sense, this is what we are about—not from a survival standpoint (though that is certainly within the scope of our endeavors)–but from a soul perspective. Something deep within each of us calls for our attention to live and live well. As soulful, thinking, and feeling beings, we are so incredibly hungry to not merely survive, but to experience, learn, explore, and “know!” But more than our minds hunger for life. The soul is, I think, that part of ourselves that lies beneath our “self” as we know it. The soul informs our consciousness and our identity; it is the underpinning of who we are—the essence of our very being. And it is so much more! Through our soul we are connected to and with all life, the living breathing planet, the people in our community, and the very cosmos itself. When we recite a “Thanksgiving Prayer,” we are calling out to the cosmos as a full participant in Life everywhere, and by doing so we claim our rightful place in it—just as we are: “And now our minds are one!”

So, when we gather our “stuff” we are making a practice of manifesting all that we are and bring to this life. If we forget a blanket, a piece of rope, or a knife on our journey, we begin to understand what it means to forget one’s self. By thankfully remembering those things, imagining them clearly, we also remember them when they are not at hand. And when we are truly shipwrecked we can call them forth to sustain us–even in their absence. Those things, held firmly in our imagination, serve us as though they were present. Here is where we learn that the fire that resides within our heart will most assuredly be sufficient to our needs.

“Mankind owns four things
That are no good at sea:
Rudder, anchor, oars,
And the fear of going down.”
— Antonio Machado


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