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She likes my journal !!

They have better beds on the A ward.

Danielle in Portland

December 10th, 2000

Stages of Life
I received an email today from someone who described a transitional period that "Jungian and yogic philosophies call the Stages of Life" that struck a chord:
"Both Jungian and yogic philosophy speak of the Stages of Life as profound transitions, and the so-called mid-life crisis (which occurs in most artists in late middle age) is particularly stark. It's akin to the mystic's Dark Night of the Soul, wherein one is compelled to make a blind leap of faith into the unknown, leaving behind all the solid foundations that afforded grounding to material earth and reaching skyward, toward more subtle firmament; the Dark Night is that transition phase during which one has let go of all that was held dear in the past, but has not yet grasped a new reality -- a limbo in which one feels lost, blind, directionless, and fearful that one's productivity and zest for life has ended for the rest of one's pointless existence.

What is really happening is that all the tools we have spent so much time and effort honing throughout our previous years are coalescing into a new, harmonious alliance whose goal requires the concerted effort of all our past skills and experiences. Of course, this route is not without possible pitfalls, including complete failure; and the best recourse for avoiding most of these is to find a way to create and sustain a personal myth about our passage through this darkness, modifying it as necessary to encompass all the new developments that spring up along the way. I see your journal as your way of creating and sustaining continuity throughout the journey, with each entry serving as a concretized, step-by-step chart -- a log that gives you the assurance that yesterday you were there, and today you're here, where you have you not been before, so you must at least be moving toward something rather than simply standing still or going in circles."

"Standing still or going in circles". Ah yes. I can see my writing and photography in that mirror, Oakland parade things that I've held dear in the past, pieces that I've let lie fallow perhaps, that I must now grasp tightly as my world seems to be crumbling. Certainly the "things" and "pursuits" of my past have lost much of their allure: the music, the books, the movies. Rocket nights and roiling days. The scary part of growing older for me at the moment doesn't seem to relate to death or illness, although I, like anyone, would rather miss out on the illness, but more the lack of passion. I can recognize many things in my past that no longer hold the old energy, not even the scary things scare me anymore. Hard to be scared of a confrontation when it no longer brings forth demons.

Certainly the journal gives me a certain continuity, a way to look at the world by writing down what I'm observing, not so much the day to day -- I walked, it was hot, everyone was upset at dinner, Mr. Wuss, well, Mr. Wuss -- but a kind of glue that gives it coherence. The journal as a tool or a life preserver to hold onto while the ship goes down and there's no sign yet of a Coast Guard cutter. Assuming, of course, there's a cutter that's coming, that someone was able to get to the radio after the iceberg cut through the hull. That was an iceberg cutting through the captain's cabin, right? Right? Hello?

I wonder what I mean by that and if, at the end of it all, life gives you a gold star or a long warm afternoon reclining on the beach, a tropical fruit drink melting in a glass beside you, the sun low on the horizon, but warm, the breeze soft after 10,000 sluggish miles of blowing in over an ocean, all of it integrated into one last cosmic giggle. Or if they yank you up out of your bed one night and put you out onto the street, adios old man, the story is over. Anyway, I thank him for his kind instruction.

The banner photograph was taken in Portland, the color photograph at last week's parade in Oakland. I printed an 8 x 10 today of the young clown. It turned out well. The quote is by Jane Wagner.