I thought I wanted to be a therapist for about fifteen minutes. Not quite as long as thinking I wanted to be a third-grade teacher. But with the same outcome: A quick and permanent end to thinking those things. Reality is all the guide we need. Ever. With the therapy thing, it became clear that everybody wants to feel better, and nobody wants to get better. Everybody wants everyone else to change in relation to them. Everybody wants to know how to get their way. Forget about giving up their way. They are going to have it or make the world real sorry for not giving it to them. Getting better is changing our relationship with ourselves, and with other people. Getting better is changing our mind about what is important, and being right about it this time. Getting better is changing the way we think, the way we see, the way we act. Getting better is changing. No one wants to change. No one ever grows up without changing. Everyone who grows up, grows up against their will. Therapy is not holding hands in a circle and passing love around the circle. Or attracting positive energy and becoming wealthy by deserving money. The My Way Now movement fuels the Prosperity Gospel movement and the If-You-Want-It-You- Ought-To-Be-Able-To-Have-It mentality which spills over into You-Ought-To-Get-It-Now, and that's where we are as a country and as a world. The Dali Lama said, in response to the Chinese takeover of Tibet, “If, in any situation, there is no solution, there is no point in being anxious. If the forces at work have their own momentum, and what’s going on now is the product of what went before, and if this generation is not in control of all those forces, then this process will continue.” And if "this generation" is actively aligned with "those forces," it will be a long time before reality grinds the truth into their pores and they realize the lie they are living. In the meantime, we wait for "those forces" to play themselves out and for people to wake up to what fools they have been.
I regret 10,000 things that I am too ashamed of to mention, much less, talk about. You will have to take my word for it. I am comforted by Joseph Campbell's confession of a similar burden of his own past. His view was that one of the ordeals of growing older is the task of continuing to grow up by confronting our failures and the missed opportunities of our youth, and coming to terms with them in a "Okay, I will take from them what they have to offer in helping me be aware of what I am doing here and now and making better choices/decisions in the time left for living," kind of way. We have much to wish we had done differently, or not at all. But. Here we are. And we are here by virtue of all of the choices/decisions we made along the way from birth to here and now. Our work is always to apply what we have learned in living the remainder of the journey, in hopes that our worst errors lie behind. I am also glad that retirement gives me fewer opportunities to stumble over myself in finding my way through each day.
Everyone is born to die. Everyone dies. And everyone is in charge of their own dying, and the circumstances that lead to it. Our dying is always the result of who we are in conjunction with our circumstances. And everything up to our dying is the result of the same mysterious/secret-- The Mysterium Coniunctionis-- between ourselves and our circumstances. The "mysterious union"is not so much between man and woman, or yin and yang, but between us and our circumstances. The relationship of us with our circumstances, is roughly the relationship of the stream with its channel, of the ocean with its shoreline, and its bed. We are all where we are, here and now, as the result of how we have responded to where we have been. Given who we are and what we have been through, and what we have done about it, we could not be anywhere else but where we are, here and now. And that will remain true everywhere we are between now, and, including,the moment of our death. We are living to arrange our dying, without being aware of what we are doing. But--being aware of it would simply be another aspect of it, leading to it. Jesus' death on the cross was a direct consequence of the larger circumstance he created by being who he was in relation to the moment-to-moment circumstances of his life. There is an inevitability to our living as well as to the fact of our dying. Our living is the precursor of our dying. "The secret cause" of our dying. Carl Jung said, "We meet our destiny on the road we take to avoid it." What I'm saying is: Embrace that! An live the life that is yours to live-- moment-to-moment, situation-by-situation, day-by-day-- doing in your life, with your life, what is yours to do, exactly as you would do it, being you as only you can be you, as best you can, and die when it is done as the hero going to meet her, going to meet his, final test. How we live is how we die. "Where we stand is where we fall" (Steven Moffat, Doctor Who). Do that consciously, knowingly, intentionally, willingly embracing the cross at the end of the road-- in a "This is what I am going to do even if it kills me!" kind of way! Knowing what we would die for, and dying for it, is a very important thing to know and to do. Don't just die! Die with a purpose! By living meaningfully on the service of that which is worthy of us! As a knight in filial/liege service to his Lady/Lord-- or a Lady/Lord in filial/service to her/his calling/duty.