In the Pacific Northwest, July light streams through the forests and into bedroom windows as early as 5:30 a.m. For nor'westers living under months of gray skies, summer light can make us as giddy and full of expectations as Christmas.
Summer can also compare to Christmas for darker reasons. The merriment and light around us can serve to accentuate the presence of depression which often gnaws just beneath awareness. All lives include threads of restlessness and short or long-term depression. Pasting a smile on our face may help us function, but failing to be present to our full emotional spectrum can alienate us from ourselves and prolong our suffering. The catch is that when we deny our pain, we suppress our capacity for joy, and we experience a flat life. Our emotions are a whole-package deal.
Our relationship to creative expression can be both cause of our darkness and the way into the light. Thomas Moore, a psychotherapist, writes about this in his book Dark Nights of the Soul. He encourages us to face our darkness as an important source of insight as to what we need to lead happier, more vibrant lives. He explores creativity as an essential element of authenticity. Shutting down our creative selves is another way of blocking our energy. To live fully, we must be present as our unique selves - not necessarily as artists but living as Moore says, to shape this world with our talent and vision.
I've written in previous blogs of our need to allow the child within us a chance to play. Moore tells of psychologist, Carl Jung as actually playing with wooden blocks in an attempt to reconnect with his inner child for he believed this was his life-line to creativity needed to come out of a long depression.
Because our inner child is so essential, it is important to hold the distinction between child-like versus childish. Our wiser, older self needs to help that child focus on healthy play rather than childish self-centeredness or wallowing in myths of powerlessness.
Creative expression may help us be more grounded, vibrant people; nevertheless, the dance of expression is demanding. Moore acknowledges that a tension exists between the deep and private well of our creativity and the risk we take to expose our interior through expression. We must come to terms with the response our expression incurs. Our culture, obsessed with fame and wealth, may pump up the internal skeptic who dismisses our creativity as bland and inessential. Spirited women, our best defense and resilience come from a bull-dog grip on the truth that our sparkling presence in this world has purpose beyond our ability to fully conceive. We need to eat, sleep, and breathe this truth.
May you mother your inner child with wisdom. May you walk with equanimity through the beams of light and shadow in the forests of your life.
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