Wednesday, November 30, 2011

your task of tasks

Joseph Campbell talks about the Hero's Journey, where in Celtic (and many other mythologies) the hunter is lured into the woods by a deer or boar, then finds himself lost and in the dark forest, needing to find his path home. In some weird way, life is like this -- we take on challenges and responsibilities, and then find ourselves in the wilderness. I am just finishing up 25 years of child-rearing, the two oldest are on their own and the youngest is almost. During all these years I focused mainly on my family, while still doing art. But suddenly now for the first time, I find myself with a studio and time and the ability to really follow my bliss with abandon. And weirdly, it does sort of feel like I have been left in the wilderness. All the structure of jobs and carpooling and cooking and caretaking is replaced with a day I get to choose how to fill. I have been making art, teaching, working in journals all along, but never before has it felt this open-ended, and it is a bit unnerving. We also moved 3 times in the last 3 years, including 3000 miles across the country, and I faced serious health challenges which required surgery. So now, here I am, I have followed the deer into the wilderness, and I find myself in a new place, ready to figure out how to get home. . . . I am eager to see what happens.
Carl Jung suddenly realized "what it means to live with a myth, and what it means to live without one." Jung asked himself, What myth am I living by? Finding that he did not know, he wrote, "I took it upon myself to get to know 'my' myth, and I regarded this as the task of tasks."


  1. I have read conflicting articles on the "empty nest syndrome" and had to reach my own conclusions based on how I felt when my only child launched his own life. I suddenly saw myself as very old and out of touch. It was as if I had handed over the reins to young people and was supposed to quietly fade into the background. Of course, that ticked me off! I still have so much to offer. Am I supposed to wait to lavish it upon the grandchildren? I hope not because that is still a long way off. So I have decided to love my university children --- it takes a nice size university to satisfy my mothering instincts! I have also returned to stitching which is something I haven't done in years. It soothes my yearning for creativity. In the end, life is always about striving to achieve balance.

  2. You know, that's the key -- that we are faced with a challenge, a loss of self, a difficulty, and that is EXACTLY how we rise above it all and find our bliss. You sound like you have found it -- good job!