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Sunday, September 25, 2011


You might not realize what an argyle sock or a hand-knitted multicolored patterned sweater or more likely a machine-knitted one could teach you! Well, if you have such an item, turn it inside out and study the mess it seems to represent. There is wisdom hiding in that there wool. Honestly. It represents what most of us consider our daily if not our yearly lives consist of. That is, if you add in everything your conscious mind has to pay attention to all your waking hours, given your life up to now. There are times, at least as I approach my 89th birthday, that I despair about. Life does often seem just one damn thing after another. So I was ruminating as I picked up one of my colored socks off the floor and pulled it right side out before adding it to the laundry – a familiar task repeated hundreds of times during my life.

Well, guess what? It was as if the sock spoke to me and I had a profound and comforting attack of Jungian insight! What I had been looking at with was my ego, the part of all of us that deals with daily problems and joys, worries and fears, the whole kerfuffle of quotidian life.

What, if at the end we get to pull the sock right side out and see the pattern revealed that our Self, which dwells in our unconscious, has been knitting day by day!!

It undoubtedly will reveal a pattern that will have a genuine meaning and might even be illuminating the whys and wherefores that have long eluded us. Perhaps the patterns will reveal that it was not so much the actual events but the attitudes and emotional motives and strivings that add up mysteriously to one’s conscious or unconscious desires to do what was spiritually right.

All the millions of Earth’s human inhabitants have an Unconscious and many of us act according to the moral input of our time and place. So we may do the right thing for the wrong reason or the wrong thing for the right reason—a theme that has occupied many writers such as Dostoyevsky and Theodorakis. We judge and misjudge ourselves and others constantly! So, is there a solution?

For me, in my old age, there is one: LOVE!

Think back over your childhood and adult life. Are there not people, strangers even, that stand out in your life because they were kind? Kindness is a form of agape, or love that asks nothing in return, has no secret agenda, and is naturally sincere. I encounter it in many ways and gestures: the little boy who got off the school bus with some flowers for his waiting mother and, seeing me, hurried to pick some dandelions for me, which were given with shining eyes, or the cashier at the airport restaurant who looked at every tired salesman, and made a cheerful, genuinely personal remark.

In short, one doesn’t have to be religious to be kind. In fact, the Dalai Lama said it simply: “My only religion is kindness.” Having met him in Dharamsala, I can truly say that he embodies his words, adding humility. My husband had gashed his forehead on an awning; when His Holiness noticed this, and Walter explained, he smiled and said, “Then you will always have a reason to remember your visit to Dharamsala!” Lovingly.



museredux said...

Compassion. That is the key, the centering, for sure.

(And here I warn you -- I don't mean this as a lecture, but as a prayer. Prayer is best when silent, so please forgive my foolish flowing over. Maybe it's song.)

Watched the entire Simon Scharma's History of Britain last week in one swoop.

Made me think about Jung's emphasis on religion as a very human force, a need. How expressed, repressed, enforced, inflicted, taught, learned, imbibed? Questions that define nations, cultures, families, individual lives. And all life is lived as the latter. "The Problem of" (as Jung like to put things) comes to focus by looking at Oliver Cromwell's inflation, The Doing of God's Work. Presently, we have a whole wing of government, how many teabag swinging Reps and Governors, with this disease.

And then there's Charles I, having himself embedded in paint as he ascends to the Heavens: God Made In The Image of Man.

Kings and Queens, all the large controlling eyes of it, looking at us, our looking back at it. Who do we see?

Jung sensed some new enlightenment when the Virgin Mary was (finally!) granted the same transcendence, body and all, to Heaven in the mid-Twentieth Century (noting here, the movie The Return Of The King nicely plays this out): The Bride back in the Bridal Chamber, Holy of Holies, Yahweh and Asherah.

Mazeltov. Shalom.

Forget Let's Roll. This is Dance. Oh life, it's all about dance.

That's all I know. The best I can do, say, embrace. And dare to share. Participate.

I like William Sharp's take, which he learned from DGRossetti:

... an artist should work with both "hand and soul" towards the accomplishment of every conception. Their applicability to all imaginatively and emotionally creative work will be manifest to many, and the central idea is certainly that which it would be well if most persons besides those who "create" would take to heart -- that true life is the truest worship and truest praise, "for with God is no lust of godhead."

So. To your health.
Compassion is the best religion. Eyes open, beloved, to Beauty, to awe, realizing the god in everyone, everything, everywhere. Cahoots. Magicians, all.

Anonymous said...

Hello Alice
I missed your posts latley. I want to ask you to write about what is meant by "going to the Mothers"? Odysseus had his journey to the mothers as did Faust. I would like some illumination on this aspect of the psych-spiritual journey. Many thank yous.
Love from
Cynthia - your nodal opposite!

kj said...

Dear Ms Howell,
As a knitter I resonate with your last post and felt it so right in someplace very deep. How little we see and know do our daily lives with presence and kindness is sometimes all that is possible.
Thank you

Juliemarie said...

Thanks Alice, the simple kindness :) aww.. makes my eyes water up. Just love your writing!