Our life is designed to bring out the best in us, or not. Joseph Campbell said, "It took the Cyclops to bring out the hero in Ulysses." But, not in all those the Cyclops met before Ulysses. We do not have to stand up and step forward to meet our life with our best in hand. We can run. Carl Jung said, however, "We meet our destiny on the road we take to avoid it." Yet, ever there, we do not have to meet it with our best in hand. We can turn to denial, despair, dejection, addiction... and die long before some coroner makes it official. Our life doesn't always bring out the best in us. How we respond to the demands of the moment is our call to make, moment-by-moment-by-moment. Having what it takes, and doing what needs to be done, is as much a matter of perspective and perception, courage and willful determination, as it is skill and ability. Just making the effort attracts help from the most unexpected places. Just opening ourselves to the gifts of our imagination, creates shifts and openings in our circumstances we could never expect. We craft miracles by stepping forward, wondering how we are going to do this thing that is called for. Again and again. Ours is the Sisyphean task of putting our shoulder to our life and rolling it up the hill each day and following it down the hill each night, to roll it up the hill again the next day, day after day after day. How did Sisyphus do it? I would have to make a game of it. I would make a friend of the rock that is my life. I would love the rock and my relationship with the rock. Each day, I would roll it to almost the top of the hill, seeking the still point between up and down. It would have to be there somewhere. The place of balance and harmony. The place of rest. Aha! And I would take a break, and count the seconds each day, before the tipping point gave way, and down she goes. I would live to discover my personal best, and strive to beat it each day. And I would walk slowly down hill, to start over again tomorrow. I would give it my best each day, with no end in sight, and no way out. It is called making meaning, what humans do best. Just me and my rock called Micky (For Mick Jagger, the Rolling Stone).
We find the center by seeking and exploring, and exhibiting, our Original Nature and our Natural Rhythms. "Is this Me or Not-Me here and now?" Is the question that carries us into the roles our lives require us to play, and the masks we wear day-to-day. Joseph Campbell talked about the Primary Mask being who our parents, our culture, our society ask/expect us to wear, and the Antithetical Mask being who we are in our inmost self. For 40.5 years in the ministry, I was an introvert pretending to be an extrovert. I did it by being conscious of it. By not pretending to myself. I stepped into the role my life was asking me to play, like I would if I were an actor playing my part for the Big Screen. Life is like a Big Screen. We show up, deliver our lines as they should be delivered, act our part as it should be acted, take our bows, and return to our life off-screen, where we can settle into "just being ourselves" for a while. The masks are essential. We have to walk two paths at the same time. Who we are is who-we-ought-to-be and who-we-can't-help-being. Where the two paths clash considerably, we have to work it out. I could not have been a minister in a right-wing evangelical church. I knew where to draw my lines. There are some parts we cannot play and be true to ourselves. Actors do not accept every part they are asked to play. Fraser Snowden said, "The only true philosophical question is 'Where do we draw the line?'" The answer to that question is a door opening to the mystical center of ourselves, revealing who we are in ways we might never have guessed without being pushed to the point of drawing a line. All of our lines are mirrors reflecting us to us. In drawing our lines, we know who we are, what is important, and where we stand. Where have you drawn lines in the past? Where are you drawing lines in the present? Where are you likely to draw lines in the future? There you are. Other places/doors/mirrors revealing us to us are the things/people that/who attract us and the things/people that/who repel us. Anything, any person, that/who evokes a visceral reaction in us is telling us about us. Who we vote for and why. The things we intend to do and keep forgetting to do. The things we intend not to do and find ourselves doing. The tunes we hum/sing without meaning to. The themes which keep playing themselves out, or coming to the surface again and again, when our mind is "just wandering." The dreams--particularly the Big Dreams, and the recurring dreams--we have at night. The day dreams--dreads and happy fantasies-- we have during the day. The ways we spend our money. The ways we spend our time. Our viewpoint. Our preferences. Our fears. Our desires. All are clues to who we are, to who we are afraid of being, to who we do not want to be at all, that need to be examined, investigated, explored, contemplated, mined for the gold. The paths to the center are paths to meaning and purpose, hope and fulfillment, identity and confidence, balance and harmony, and wait for our cooperation to lead us to ourselves.
We start where we are, with seeing all there is to see here and now-- right here, right now. Asking all of the questions that beg to be asked. Saying all of the things that cry out to be said. Without judgment, evaluation or even opinion-- and with compassion and acceptance-- in a "This, too! This, too!" kind of way. All of it is grist for the mill. We are milling ourselves. Who we are and who we have within us to be. We are seeking ourselves, and looking for the life that is ours to live. We find both waiting for us at the center. It all comes together at the center. All paths lead to the center, flow from the center, circle around the center. The paths are not straight. There is nothing linear or sequential about us. "The shortest way through is the long way around" (Conventional wisdom saying). Carl Jung talked about "individuation" (What we are about, becoming who we are, doing what is ours to do) as "The circumambulation of the self." It is a long, downward spiral to the center of life and being. At the center is also The Source, which is also The Mystery, of Life and Being. We are one with The Source and The Mystery of Life and Being. And, here is the secret of the center, at the center, we are connected with everyone else at their center. The many are one at the center. and say, "AUM...", which is a lot like saying, "WOW...", together, through the ages.