So You Think Your Life Was Wasted (33)

This completes the second section, “Shaping Ourselves,” of my projected book to be called So You Think Your Life Was Wasted. Next week we’ll start on Part Three, “Society and the Individual.”

Life and Achievement

Friday, August 10, 2007

5:45 a.m. somehow frittered away three quarters of an hour doing — what?? Story of my life, that.

Joyce, where do I go from here? If psychic powers and abilities aren’t an end in themselves — and clearly they aren’t, any more than anything else is — and if no form of external achievement is my focus —


You did notice that when external achievement was described on the C. G. Jung film you watched last night, it was described as a masculine trait. That is, it is one way to approach the world. It is not everything, and in fact may not be anything important next to other things one accomplishes in life. It is what is noticed, and is not unimportant in itself, only it may be less important than the opportunity costs it incurs.

I can’t see you choosing “opportunity costs” as a phrase, so I assume you pulled that out of my economics class background.

You pulled it out, I selected it. You could see the process that way. But that isn’t what is to the point here.

Rita said your and my session yesterday was therapy.

What else do you need more? And what else am I uniquely trained to give you, love?

Jung said cures come from a therapist — what he or she is rather than knows, and I believe it from experience on both ends.

You still yearn for accomplishment that can be stacked on a shelf or listed. But you have already accomplished so much! Didn’t you hear Michael tell you, twice, how many people you have helped in your career? You automatically discount that because you did it — but don’t you value that trait in others?

Yes I do. I value other kinds of accomplishments too, though.

If you could believe it, and really mean “too” instead of “instead” you would be better satisfied with your life.

Yes, I suppose so. To me it has the flavor of apology — “I didn’t accomplish anything that I thought I would, but I did help some people.”

It is the roots of that flavor of apology that are the problem. A long time ago — you were in family therapy with Bob Kelly — he pointed out that you were placing so much stress on writing a book that it distorted your day and made it impossible to write the book. You’re not so one sided now, and you have had vastly more experience, but you’re still doing it.

I don’t know how to not do it, save perhaps to just give up.

No, that isn’t true. You have gradually learned how to not do it — you took walks in the woods, you take photos, you sculpt, and you have always read — your brother even introduced you, years ago, to the fine art of “hanging out.” Only — you still cling to the “should be writing” idea, partly out of hope of earning money and partly out of lack of imagination, if I may say so. When you just were in England — it hadn’t occurred to you, had it, until I just started to say this — you had to learn just to enjoy yourself without reading or writing.

Huh! Interesting.

Yes, isn’t it?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Joseph, my friend, what’s up with you? I’m trying to get your story out.

And trying your hand at made work again. Fun, ain’t it?

Did you do stuff like that? Clay or something?

Did a little wood working to pass the time sometimes. You’d call it somewhere between scrimshaw and whittling, I expect. Remember how you were fascinated by the book about the mountain man in Tennessee who made so many things out of wood?

Alex Stewart. Had to dredge for the name. Yes I do. Drew up resonances, did it?

Well, it did, a little. Whittling or cutting handy little contrivances for camp life is a different thing from throwing pots or painting but you can see that it has its points of resemblance.

I can feel it more than conceptualize it.

Sure, and where do you suppose that feeling is coming from, but something welling up from within ? It happens all the time, to everybody, but mostly it goes unnoticed. I mean, the cause does, the feeling is sometimes felt sometimes unnoticed.

I reviewed that book going on 20 years ago. It gave me vague yearnings to do the same thing, but I never acted on them, and knew somehow that it wasn’t practical.

You remember Dion Fortune says it’s enough for the subconscious that you “show willing” as she puts it? That’s why. It’s a sort of acknowledgment, a bringing that into the light of day. Hard to explain why it’s important but it is. It’s a good thing to do.

I’ve reached a nice time in my life.

You’re doing what you always felt, just like young Churchill practicing oratory or young Lincoln feeling his way towards doing the thing that would make his name immortal. I don’t mean that you’re going to be famous, I mean that your real task in life echoes through your earlier years although you can’t understand what the echoes are saying. Until you get to that place, you aren’t comfortable, then you are, even if that place is the middle of a war.

I guess I couldn’t have gotten here any earlier.

All paths are open, all paths are good, you know that. Everything has its compensation as Emerson pointed out. Win something here, you lose something there. It’s just the way it is.

Well, it’s always good to talk to you. Unless you have something special for me, I guess I’ll go hang out at the pottery and study glazes.

Go ahead. Just don’t forget what you want to accomplish with your books — but you would do better with them if you get away from them sometimes. And pottery is as good a way as any.

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