Saturday, September 30, 2006

Contemplating Carl Jung on Neurotic Suffering

[audio entry]

Confined to my bed, trying to be a 'good girl' and do as the doctor said, as I have been urged to do by so many, I decided to pick up one of the many unfinished books at my beside and read between naps.

Which is how it is that I was reading Carl Jung's theories about suffering, about the transformational power of true suffering, and the tendancy of people to manufacture useless suffering. He referred to it as a form of childish neurosis, the redundant, compulsive clinging to self-doubt, drama, worry, and anxiety as a replacement for honest confrontation with the deeper anguish that the transience, uncertainty, and loss present in our lives generates. An anguish which awakens us to the signficance of our lives, which shows us the depths of our courage and the inner resources we did not know we had.

In the face of pain and difficulty and loss, we feel overwhelmed, uncertain, adrift. We need to make sense of this pain in some way, to find the resources within ourselves to move beyond it, to find in it an opportunity to grow, to develop our strengths. Many rise to the occurance of suffering in their lives... some do not. Many move on to the next challenge in their lives... and some do not. Some of us cling to the familiar sufferings, never getting past them. But why? Because it is a way of exerting control over our lives. We know, whether consciously or not, that life is suffering, and deeply fearful of our abilities to handle the pain that will come our way, we cling to what we know. Confronted with the familiar, we are secure in our ability to survive it.

But doing this, living this way, caught in a cycle of familiar sufferings, we remain little more than children. Neurotic children, feeling helpless as we continually repeat the same mistakes, suffer the same setbacks--even as something in us demands that things change, fit into out fantasy fairytale visions of how things should be, enabling us to avoid responsibility for our thoughts, attitudes, and actions, laying the blame at the feet of anyone other than ourselves--our parents, our gods, our societies.

And in doing so some never learn the lesson that while pain and loss and uncertainty are inevitable, suffering is not. Suffering is not. Suffering is subjective, it is generated by our psychological responses to our experiences, and thus, it is possible to alleviate suffering, to transform it, to turn it into something transformational and transcendant.

Sometime in the past two years I've come to understand this consciously. Of course, there is often a gap between understanding a thing and acting upon it, and even when acting upon it, there is the necessity of practicing a thing, of becoming proficient at it. I am still bridging that gap, still struggling to leave behind the childish and neurotic clinging to idealistic expectations that create dissatisfaction with the now.

And the now, the present, this moment--is what I have--and it is by far the most powerful, charged moment of my life.
Conscious of all this, I am carefully evaluating how well I am leaving the neurotic child behind, and how often she rears her golden-blonde head. I love that child, I have embraced her, but her coping mechanisms are out-dated. I must take care not to cling to the familiar sufferings. I've no need to live in a perpetual state of crisis. It is ok to be content, to be at peace, to live in and experience the beauty of life as it happens, free of fearful expectations.

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Flowers! (Or, should I be sick more often?)

I've been sleeping a lot. Drowsing, too. I'm enjoying it, because normally after 5 or 6 hours in bed, my body yells "get up!" and I cannot stand laying in bed any longer--even if my brain is still tired. But this being sick thing, well, I can't seem to get enough of being horizontal. It is so nice to drowse and slide my legs against the sheets and snuggle up to my pillow and just be. And laying in bed seems to be the only way my muscles don't ache a lot, which guarantees I'm in it.

My roomie made me a big pot of stew, and I woke up from a nap hungry for some. I'd nuked a bowl filled with three ladles of the stuff and was dipping a piece for french bread into it when the doorbell rang. I almost ignored it, as I was a mess--still wearing my white nightie with the rubber duckies on it, my hair uncombed--but I answered it anyway. And lo! It was the florist, with a huge vase of flowers. I've put them on my desk, where I can see them from bed, as the enclosed card said " bring beauty into your room and making you stay in bed." How'd I get so lucky to be so loved? How silly that getting flowers makes me want to hug myself and bounce with joy. They are so beautiful...


Friday, September 29, 2006


So my doctor has confined me to bed for the next three days. Rest is the only cure for the virus that is ailing me, she said.

Rest? I suppose I've been running full-out for too long. I've pushed my endurance, insisted on pursuing a social schedule that occupies a minimum of 5 out of 7 days, and working too much to make up for the 6 weeks I took off earlier this year to deal with my sister's illness.

And I suppose there are worse things in life than being confined alone to a tempurpedic bed with 1000 thread-count sheets in a room filled with books and light.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

One Year Ago Today

[audio entry]

One year ago today, P was visiting from Denmark. We'd gone to the coast, to my favorite little place in Seaside. Early in the morning, while he was still sleeping, I sat at the table in the cottage and looked out the bay window. I watched the ocean and the birds and sipped coffee and wrote the following in my journal:
There is within me--within all of us, I think--a beast which protects me from the world. Some days it is a roaring beast and others it is a beast that crawls stealthily, but always it is ever watchful--the lizard brain upon which the monkey brain rests.

I recognize that I have defenses that I use far more than I need to, and that for each thing these defences protect me from, they cost me something profound: they keep the world and the experiences and the opportunities for growth and joy at bay. I am aware that closing myself off from my feelings freed me from having to do anything about them. I know that in barricading myself away, I pushed away my own life. I am trying to reclaim so much, and to let go of what I never should have internalized. I am trying to open myself to intimacy that goes beyond the intellectual intimacy I have long enjoyed with friends.

I have come to a place where I know that venturing further will only get me lost inside myself, locked away, never to get out alive. And so I have decided to fight for my life and let life and others in. It is not easy. I have habits and defenses that rise hard and fast when I feel threatened, afraid, vulnerable. Something within me still throws up barriers even while my consciousness works to tear them down. It makes me feel like a head-case, this internal conflict, but I know it is necessary. Somehow I have confidence to push on. I am all twisted up inside and some days I think it is the knots that hold me together, instead of holding me back. Time will tell.

Buddha with candle, (c) KR Silkenvoice 2006
What a long way I have come. And how far I still have to go. Whenever I think I am not making progress in my quest to truly live life, I have but to review my past thoughts. Despite the crisis with my sister's health, despite the stumbling over ingrained stress-response habits, I have made such great strides. I've learned its not as scary as I thought it would be, putting myself out there, taking risks, being real. I've learned that my being genuine means others are more willing to meet me there, and the ones who are willing to are the kinds of people I want to get to know. I've learned the value of attempting to remain eye-level with my consciousness, to watch where feelings and thoughts originate from, so I can determine where in the past I am hung up. And upon reviewing the past year, I've come to the realization that all the 'internal work' I've done needs to be complemented with 'external work'... I need to take better care of the body that houses my spirit.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Beautiful late-summer afternoon

Yesterday's rainclouds emptied themselves, and lo, the air was clean, and the plants renewed. When I stepped outside, I nearly swooned. The late afternoon light slating through the trees caught my eye. I prostrated myself beneath one, and took this photo.

One of the things I noticed was how lushly the moss was growing near the crotch where the branches met the trunk of the tree... so I stood up and got an up-close and personal photo. Definately a suggestive perspective.


Love, By Pablo Neruda

Because of you, in gardens of blossoming flowers I ache from the
perfumes of spring.
I have forgotten your face, I no longer remember your hands;
how did your lips feel on mine?
Because of you, I love the white statues drowsing in the parks,
the white statues that have neither voice nor sight.
I have forgotten your voice, your happy voice; I have forgotten
your eyes.
Like a flower to its perfume, I am bound to my vague memory of
you. I live with pain that is like a wound; if you touch me, you will
do me irreparable harm.
Your caresses enfold me, like climbing vines on melancholy walls.
I have forgotten your love, yet I seem to glimpse you in every
Because of you, the heady perfumes of summer pain me; because
of you, I again seek out the signs that precipitate desires: shooting
stars, falling objects.
-Pablo Neruda

[audio entry]

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

The seed of a new story

I tied him to the foot of my bed.

He looked so magnificent squatting there on the balls of his feet, his arms draped along the length of the footboard, bound by wrists and elbows to the top rail. His cock swelled as I ran each scented scarf over his flesh, teasing him wordlessly with the promise of silken pleasure.

It was not long before I could smell his arousal. The scent of ball musk and pre-come slowly filled the room as I undressed, stripping off the armour that a woman wears to work, a woman like me, slipping my skirt down my thighs. He watched me with a combination of longing and wariness, as if afraid his watching me was not permitted.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

He's a keeper

Him: What about you? Did you get some ice cream?
Me: No.
Him: Too bad... I'm having some ice cream.
Me: Oh nice :)
Him: But you know what's even better than this?
Me: what is?
Him: Your love is better than ice cream :)
Him: Better than anything else that I've tried..*sings along*

(Its hard to have a bad night when someone loves you enough to sing such a sweetly sappy song to you. Gives me a warm-fuzzy feeling just thinking about it.)

Ice Cream, by Sarah McLachlan
Your love is better than ice cream
Better than anything else that Ive tried
And your love is better than ice cream
Everyone here know how to fight

And its a long way down
Its a long way down
Its a long way down to the place
Where we started from

Your love is better than chocolate
Better than anything else that Ive tried
Oh love is better than chocolate
Everyone here knows how to cry

Its a long way down
Its a long way down
Its a long way down to the place
Where we started from...

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Belladonna berries

The belladonna vine produces a lovely purple flower.
In autumn the flowers become lucent red berries, like these.
I took this photo between rainshowers.
I tried to capture the way they glowed in the sunlight.
The photo really doesn't do them justice.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Thought for a Sunday Morning

In a world in which
The desire for intimacy
Is a chronic longing
Which few fulfill
My heart is open to many
My arms are open to many
And because of this
So many assume
My legs are also open to many
Should I change my heart?
Or will the world do it for me
Against my will?

[audio entry]

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Sweet Saturday

Road in northern temperate rainforestFriday night I went to sleep fairly early. My friend M called from Kona and caught me in that twilight state between rest and sleep. I do not remember the conversation, but apparenty, he planted some thoughts that flowered into naughty dreams. So the first thing I did upon awakening Saturday morning was masturbate voluptously. Then I brewed some micro-roasted coffee put on a robe, and sat out on the patio. It was a beautiful morning...the air was moist with an autumnal bite to it, redolent with the scent of humus and the call of birds. It was the birds that drew me to the river, where I meditated on one of my favorite rocks. When I got home, I felt...bouncy...again. Less weary. Refreshed. I had planned to leave for the Coast before midday, but did not get moving until 2pm. Which is fine. I cajoled my roomie into coming along (she's been here 5 months and not been) and away we went. Cannon Beach from Ecola PointThe drive from southeast Portland to the Oregon Coast is about 90 minutes, depending on traffic, and it is a beautiful, scenic drive. Since I was so desperately in need of renewal that I cancelled dates on both Friday and Saturday, I headed straight for Ecola State Park. Its a beautiful second-growth forest, the original one having been chopped down by thoughtless, greedy men who thought the old growth forest ran forever into the horizon. Well, it once did. Silvered treeEcola was distinctly uncrowded. There was a fine haze that gave a certain misty, ethereal quality to the light, and the breeze was bracing, and tangy with salt. On the path to this overlook there is a tree. A great, noble, dead tree. Seeing it, I was reminded of that odd notion I had when I was a small girl--that trees had silver hearts. The bones of trees are silver, see? Stripped of bark, of the living flesh of xylem and phloem, a tree can turn to silver, as this one did, standing upright and noble, eternally yearning for the sky, its limbs freed of the responsibility of sheltering life. From Ecola we went to Mo's in Cannon Beach, where we ate chowder and I sipped a Haystack Black Porter. Its a rich brew, tasting a bit of chocolate and coffee, with a thick, carmel-coloured head. Haystack black porter From there we went to an expresso shop, got warm drinks, sat and talked a bit. I cradled the cup in my hands, warming my fingers, my shoulders hunched to conserve warmth as I learned into the wind. It was a timeless, silvery moment, sweet and savory, and just what I needed. We left Cannon beach after just a few hours, and were home by 8pm. It was a short visit, but not too short. I can still smell the salt, feel it on my skin. I will be showering soon, before I to go to dance, and I will be sad to wash it away.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Wild Geese

I was down at the river early this morning. Autumn is coming, and with it, the migration of the geese. I was reminded of the Mary Oliver poem "Wild Geese."
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

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Friday, September 15, 2006


This has been the week of reminders. Reminders to live each moment fully. Reminders of why I decided to be more social--and why I had stopped. Reminders as to why I started therapy. Reminders that I do not own my fears--and they do not own me. Reminders that love is the most powerful force at my disposal. Reminders to be responsible. Reminders of who my friends really are. Reminders to let go of my need to control and manipulate reality instead of accepting and understanding that true freedom is simply experiencing life as it occurs, allowing myself to be truly spontaneous rather than habitual. I have been experiencing mini-moments of clarity, like the popping of ears signifying elevation changes. Something is up, I feel it, but I do not know what it is that is percolating in my intuitive subconcious--I only know that I am anxious about it, and that it, combined with an ear infection and inexplicable nosebleeds, has left me feeling weary. I am craving sanctuary with an intimate friend. C says come to him, and he will cuddle me--but I know where that will lead. And there will be no long period of peace, only moments suspended between interruptions. I would love a good long period snuggled up to B, but his social schedule is nearly as hectic as mine. I need nurturing, he said. And he was right. Nurturing, not sex... which is why I am at home in my own bed instead of C's. Weariness. Anxiousness. I tell myself there is nothing to be afraid of, and what does fear get me even if there is good reason? Readiness? Stress? I meditate, seeking the still mind, knowing insight and clarity will come if I can but calm the monkey brain long enough.
[audio entry]

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

yummy weekend

Saturday night. Seattle. We both wore skirts to dinner. His was a black utili-kilt pinned with a silver-sword. Tall socks with a black-handled knife slipped into the top of the right one. Sweater nearly the same colour as the socks. A white shirt underneath, its cuffs making his wrists look almost delicate. Hands moving with precision and grace during the meal. Beautiful beard, closely-trimmed. Voice well-modulated, soft, and velvety. He smiles, sitting opposite me, with mouth and eyes. Lovely man. Gentle man. Sexy man.Hotel parking lot. Conversation lulls, I move to exit the car. Flash of white cuff in the darkness, his arm reaching toward me. Hand on the back of my neck, mouth on mine, tongue insistent. Assertive. Formality all night, no hint of passion and then this---this explosion of sensation. Firm hands, warm lips, breath fanning my face. Beard soft, so soft under my fingertips. His questing fingers find my weakness, massaging my nipple, making me whimper and sigh into his mouth. Fingers in my hair, mouth branding my neck, my collarbone. His hardness, my wetness, both of us aching. Kissing like ardent teenagers. Someone enters a nearby car. We part, reluctantly. Short, unsteady walk to the hotel room. Collapsing onto the luxurious king-sized bed. Sleep is a long time coming, but eventually she kisses my eyelids. Warm, moist slide into oblivion.Sunday morning. Early. Wide-awake after 6 hours' rest. He is sleeping, of course. Does he dream of me, I wonder? Sunday is bath day. Filling the whirlpool tub with water. Fresh razor, bath milk from Roger&Gallet, ice water to sip, a book to read: a Jungian interpretation of a Romanian story. Subtitled a tale of feminine redemption. Heh. Redemption indeed. Hair up, long soak in the huge tub. Bouyant breasts. Exploring skin with sensitive fingertips, noting where a razor should attend. Finding that slickness which water cannot imitate, there, between my loins. Fingers sliding, electrifying, dancing across my pleasure-center. Sighs and moans. Fulfillment and release. Pruned feet. Let the shaving begin. Mmmm. Yes... let the shaving begin.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The caged gifts

My guest this weekend sent a curious glance at the chair in my bedroom.

"Afraid your presents will get away?" he asked?
"No, its a reminder to myself," I answered, and handed him a slip of paper with a quotation on it.
"All too often gifts are excuses and apologies for not giving the only true gift -- ourselves." Matthew Kelly.

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Chat on women, the moment, and mystery

Me: Any woman who tells you that all she wants is to be understood is lying. To you, herself, or both. Women do NOT want to be understood.
Him: Oh really? It seems all I hear is the complaint 'you just don't understand me.'
Me: What women want is to remain a mystery, to be desired. What women want 'understood' is... hmm... that who they are is subject to change at whim. Thus, it is important, not to understand women, but for those who love women to be understanding.
Him: Ahh, so they know they are being crazy but want to get away with it.
Me: Actually, it is not crazy.
Him: Whimsical then.
Me: Spontaneous.
Him: First word that comes to mind… Combustion
Me: *grin* But it is completely in conflict with structured society. Lets face it, reality is free, it is fluid, tenuous, dynamic, constantly changing. Humans constrain reality, we try to control it, force patterns and habits on it. This creates tension. We see patterns even where there are none. We create systems because we need them.
Saiai: But you realize… that when men do the same thing, they are called 'immature'
Me: And when women do it, they are called 'irrational'
Me: It would be nice if we could meet the moment, react to the moment, free of conditioning and supposition. To know the wonder and mystery of each moment of our experience as it unfolds. To... hmm... to find in ourselves the imagination and the creativity to meet each moment as if it is unique and original, rather than forcing our preconceptions upon the time.
Him: Well, systemizing is the natural reaction when one attempts to control ones understanding.
Me: But must we understand something this moment? Can't we let understanding come at its own pace? Must we judge everything? What happened to just perceiving, to just experiencing? To feeling the questions arise and know that the answers will come in their own time... or not?
Me: And as for women, I still think that they want to be compelling mysteries which their partners will strive to understand, but endlessly fail at because women change. All the time.
Him: So what you are saying is, I'm doomed.
Me: Only if you think Women and Life should be as ordered and predictable as lines of code.
Him: Well, it would be nice...
Me: Relax. Stop reacting to what you predict she is going to say or do. Pay attention to the moment, to what is happening right now, and you will have better results. Because, having paid attention to what is going on, you will be able to react to what is really happening. And, having 100% of your attention, she'll be less likely to pull that pouty feminine attention-seeking behaviour.
Him: Is that how you do it? Is that why it feels so great just to hang around with you, because you are paying attention?
Me: Ayup.
Him: Isn't that a bit patronizing... a bit like treating me like a child?
Me: No and no. Its more like honouring your inner-child, that part of you that wants to be the center of the universe. And if I'm not willing to let you and me be the center of the universe while we're together, why bother?
Him: The center of the universe, hmm... I suppose it is difficult to be the center of the universe and sit in a restaurant at the edge of the galaxy :)
Me: Only if you insist on a universe that makes sense to you. Me, I think the universe is a lot like a women. A mystery that men wish to penetrate and to understand, using models which you then attempt to force them to fit into.
Him: Models aren't anything to sneer at, Kay.
Me: I know. But models are meant to represent something, not the other way around.
Me: I'm sorry sweetie, but you cannot build an accurate mathematical model of women or the universe. You have to toss out too many variables in order to build a reliable model, and then you are back where you started... trying to force life to imitate the idea you have in your mind of what it should be, instead of what it actually is.

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