“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