It’s been a busy Independence Day weekend. In between playing side drum with the Oregon Defense Force Pipe band at 1) The Hillsboro 4th of July parade and 2) Patriot’s Night at Volcanoes minor league baseball game, I have been working on transferring some cassette tapes of James Hillman & Michael Meade’s “Character, Fate & Destiny” conference (Seattle Art Museum, 1996) to mp3. It’s been great to have a little extra time in the form of a four day mini-vacation from work to finally start the transfer project. And, I can happily report that the final product is now in the cd player and I am listening to it. Michael starts the conference out with this: “Whatever is not being said is not being thought…and if it’s not being thought it is lost, and it is just those things that are lost that we need.”
The over-riding theme of the conference, through the use of poetry, myth, discussion and music was to provoke thoughts, ideas, discussion, feeling, being, and to look at ourselves, our culture, our place in time and history and to deepen our ideas; of who we are and where we are going. In 1997 I attended another conference featuring Hillman, Meade & Robert Bly. I have that on cassette tape as well and it will be the next transfer project. Although I cannot subscribe to all of Hillman’s world-view, his writings remain of primary significance in my life – the message being- live life as an adventure in soul making, continue to deepen one’s ideas in the hopes of greater understanding of one’s relationship to life and of those other souls we are fortunate enough to make contact with.
I stumbled onto Hillman’s writings back in the late 1980’s, when I found myself stumbling into my 30’s, “blown out on the trail,” you might say. Looking back, that period of my life marked the beginning of a huge movement into the dark, cavernous reaches of both my being and my relationship to the bigger world. I tried to get lost, moving 3,000 miles away from my hometown of Patchogue, NY, and to some extent succeeded. The distance gained allowed for a lot of indulgence, both in lifestyle and in soul-making.
It’s so hard to be human, yes? We’re not handed a life manual at birth, and yet, one’s past and family provide the basic template for our life that structures the world we reside in. Never to be fully comprehended, we seem only to be able to peak through the windows that open through time and experience. It takes a leaving, a journey away from home, to get a glimpse of who we are and where we’ve come from to see more deeply into the somewhat dark journey onward.