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I have, for as long as I can remember, had a nearly insatiable appetite for grand explanatory systems. From the promise of a scientific unified theory in physics to the intricate Hindu cosmologies of astrology and reincarnation; from the just-so stories of evolutionary psychology to the creaking Frankenstein monster of integral theory; from impassioned Marxist frameworks to feminist critiques of just about everything, I’ve tried on each ensuing set of lenses, and found myself, always, distracted by the inevitable blurred periphery, the outside and unincorporated, the necessarily unincluded realm, the whispered mystery dancing beyond.

It’s been frustrating. I’ve wanted some final story, some intricate system of belief or nuanced framework of understanding that my mind–like a gleeful black-beaked and dark-hearted raven–couldn’t immediately pick full of holes, and I’ve found nothing.

Worse, I’ve felt ashamed of my noncontribution. If these systems I’ve tested are so lacking, why not construct my own? How pathetic, to merely criticize; how weak, to merely tear apart; how cruel and petty, and sad. But my mind, it seems, is not constructed for construction. (My mind, it seems, holds other designs more dear.)

For a long time it made me think that in academia I’d find a home. There, no doubt, would come along some organizing cognitive structure into which the world would settle finally into place. For a long time I kept hunting.

Ah, me.

I’ve begun, recently, to recast this disappointment, and this search, and though this new perspective is still just that–new–it’s felt so reassuring. Instead of framing this viciousness as a bitterly destructive impatience with systems and ideology, and as a frustration with the frailness of those I encounter, I’m beginning to understand the impulse as , instead, a love–a love for the mystery, and a love for the unknown, expressed an inexorable, magnetic honing on the uncontainable, the unexplainable, and the possible beyond.

I love this aspect of what is (or this outside of it), and feel driven, always, and everywhere, to make room for it, and to be a reminder of–and an advocate for–that vast implacable mystery. There is more, always, and the world far more wonderful than I am able, ever, to bear.


In other, more mundane (or more magical) news, it snowed here the other day. I am fresh from Colorado, where a dusting of a few inches would barely register; here, the entire city paralyzed itself with drama and excitement and ice. Stores closed. People worked from home. Two of my afternoon appointments canceled, citing the weather, and I was the sole attendee at yesterday’s noon-time yoga. Where others were sternly disgruntled, I was charmed. An inch or two of snow and this! How adorable.

(Less adorable was the fact that our heater blew last night, chilling the loft absurdly. We ended up, in midnight desperation, turning to the open oven as a heat source. This–given the exposed brick walls and open floor of our place here–meant that I awoke just before dawn feeling as though I were being slowly roasted in the earthen stove of some fairytale witch, or tasting the nightmarish experience of one of tomorrow’s unfortunate turkeys. Ai.)


Over the past few years I’ve grown increasing captivated by Depth Psychology, and most of all by its Jungian evolution. It’s as though the more blithely scientific the field of psychology has become, the more desperately I feel compelled to speak for the preservation and awareness of its role in acknowledging the deeper soulful mystery within human beings, and within the world, and the more anxious I become at what seems to me to be the glazing over of this awe–not just in psychology, but in religion as well–in a world frenetic with anxiety and speed.

I’ve written before here about my wistful gazing through Christianity’s stained glass at what I imagine to be a preservation of the sacred within, and my peering through the doorways of myriad other faiths and practices for such similar disciplined wonder.  I’ve written before here–however shyly–about my aching frustration with a displaced mysticism I can’t seem to shrug.  And I doubt this whispered call for conversation will end soon.

But this is all just a preface to a different story. I signed up, on a whim, for a lecture and workshop organized by Mary Alice Long and the CG Jung Society of Seattle , on Jung, play, and the general exploration of the child archetype, and took place this past Saturday. It ended up being a strange treat–appreciably experiential, and shared with a warm gathering of mostly-society-members–and sent me headlong into a series of wonderings and remembrances about my own childhood.

(It occurs to me that people with children, or often around children, might be presented with more frequent causes to revisit or remember their own growing-up. My intergenerational engagement tends, as a conscious choice, to be on the opposite end of the spectrum, with those sixty or seventy or above. How silly–or how telling?–that I hadn’t even considered what I’d be missing as a result. Ah well.)

In any case, a portion of Saturday invited the remembering and retelling of favorite childhood stories and games, and I was struck by how curiously serious my own–admittedly remembered–play was, and how thematically akin my favorite stories. I remember being entranced by the entirety of the Narnia series, and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s two classics–The Secret Garden, and A Little Princess–and, perhaps most of all, Tolkien’s grand and terrible realms. No doubt nearly all children entertain similar fantasies of escaping from their own mundane everyday into one of greater significance, into realms of meaning where they play a role in that hanging in the balance of good and evil, or the salvation of a secret and beautiful world. No doubt. Still, it had been ages since I thought of these tales, nor remembered how real they felt to me, much less laughed at how little I’ve changed, and at how, even today, I spend too much time with half my mind caught wistfully in the half-hidden, magical, beautiful world just beyond, or just within, this one.


I returned from Seabeck late last night. The Gathering was wonderful, and the community warm, and it was undoubtedly the easiest, and most relaxed, Open Space I’d ever facilitated. Still, I found the weekend personally bittersweet. It reminded me how I am both so hungry for, and yet so utterly, determinedly, adverse to, any deeper sense of belonging.

Part of me wants to dive into that sentence and explain it more (the hungry part, I imagine); another is pressing me toward a prideful silent stoicism. I’ll compromise in saying only that I’m frustrated with myself. Over the past year I’ve managed to become more and more distanced from anything resembling a committed connection to a group–socially, professionally, politically, or otherwise–and have even actively sought this state: not-belonging feels familiar to me, and safe, and somehow an active distancing feels less painful than the deeper ache of a failed struggle to fit. At the same time, it’s painful, and troubling. It’s true that I like being on the fringes, and enjoy the necessary easy availability to many realms and peoples–I like flitting between groups and being able to understand and embrace a panoply of worldviews–but it’s hard feeling so often so homeless, and so little, myself, understood.

I don’t know what it is that whistles me back, either, nor why I keep knocking timidly on the door of the human collective. It is so easy for me to feel understood, and at home, in the broader expanses of sky and sea, or curled catlike in my own fond imaginings of the larger world, or even–perhaps most of all–in the meeting of a single Other, stranger or friend, in those particular depths that seem impossible to plumb with more than three or four other beings at a time.

Perhaps I was born with gills instead of lungs; perhaps I can only breathe easily in the depths; perhaps the effort of remaining up there, with others, no matter how gentle and inclusive their gestures, no matter how similar their views, is too much. I’m frustrated with myself. How can I love individuals so much, yet feel so started, and so exhausted, by the whole?


But outside that too-introspective lamentation, the gathering–and those who comprised it–was wonderful. I wish I could spend more of my life in circles; it was a gift being able to participate; the intimations of deeper friendships that flickered in the evenings were generous and promising; the work and the stories of those who came were inspiring.

And again, and again, and again, it was a gift to count myself among, even for a short while, this body of beings who’d been touched–even transformed–by the practice of an unusually attentive and heartful listening. It made me want, as always, to listen more, and made me wish I had more often the courage to speak.