These things are designed to break us open

jung redbookAbout a year and a half ago, I had the privilege of meeting Jo Carson, who read her incredible account of her own death from which she returned at the Alternate ROOTS annual meeting in 2010.

Jo spent her life talking and writing about the way symbols and stories co-create and become us. At the annual meeting, she read about her experience being led to the banks of the river Styx. There she was shown the bones at the bottom that were her destiny to become if she did not chose to come back to earth and live out the rest of her life as someone dying of colon cancer.

Jo Carson is a hero of mine.

I had to read Dante's Inferno in High School, and I read just enough so that I could get all the jokes that were being bantered around the classroom. I remembered that Dante reckoned with the river Styx, and I picked up a copy of the Inferno a few weeks later at a used book store in Santa Fe: this time reading it with a little more intention and a much bigger listening.

“In the middle of the journey of our life I found myself in a dark wood, for the straight way was lost.”

What a way to start something, huh? What stood out in particular was the slick move from the universal 'our life' into the personal 'myself'. Even though we universally experience different life phases, and although we typically have a peer group who we experience those phases with, when we are lost we feel we do it alone and surrounded by stickery things we can't see.

Does figuring stuff out require that we be alone to do it, or do we find ourselves alone as an expression of being unable to figure things out? If, on the one hand, the case were that when feeling lost, becoming solitary can be curative, then in tough times it would be good advise to seek a hermitage. If, on the other, it were the case that the dis-ease of being lost is expressed in the feeling of finding oneself alone in the dark, it might point to a corrective action of seeking guidance. But guidance from whom?

If you are still with me, blink.

The projector of your mind just stopped for a second. Blink again. Imagine that instead of your eyes seeing what exists, they are big movie projectors creating the world around you. Now upgrade the technology and know that you are projecting a living theater, an infinitely enfolded embedded framework, a hologram.

There are maps everywhere, do you see them?

Maybe you are giving a friend advise that is more appropriate for your own self to follow. Maybe you keep loosing your keys. Maybe you awake from a dream where piranhas were swarming around you moments before the onset of 'salmon'ella. Maybe you keep getting speeding tickets. Maybe you hear the words 'leather cherrio' said three times by three different people in three different contexts after not having heard it said for years. Maybe you're a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard.

Bone digger. Did you cross that river, Jo?

We project what we believe into the symbols that surround us, and in turn those symbols school us. If you experience being lost and in the dark (without information) then maybe next time look around knowing that the information is there, you just missed it. Knowing that the world presents you with the exact blueprint, you just need to learn how to crack the code.

Listen for the things you keep hearing yourself say to others. Look for the things that seem out of place, the twisted word symbols and the things that repeat themselves in different forms. Look for things that make too much sense or no sense at all: the light that has no business being there, the justification you can't drop, the annoying guy at the marketplace. Look for the things that make you want to run or scream or pray.

These things are designed to break us open.