Friday, July 22, 2005

ups and downs

"Don't!" she tells me, when I moan like Jacob,

And when I'm patient, "Don't be such a Job!"

If I grow too high she cuts me down,

Calls me "Weed!" and then she tells me, "Don't be!"

#1046: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Search words: grizzle, complain, moan

I woke to a grizzling, complaining mood and I can see that Rumi could also moan and groan. Yesterday, I came back into contact with the (Roman) Catholic Church, in the form of approaching a welfare agency funded by the Church with a view to doing voluntary work for them. The job was minding a baby and a toddler in order to give the mother some respite. However, in reading up on their mission and purpose, I discovered that they work to assist mothers deciding against abortion. I had to inform my interviewer that I had been raised a Roman Catholic but had walked out of the Church at 16, precisely over the abortion issue. I think it is mainly this incident that has set up the grizzly mood in me.

Rumi here is referring to the way the unconscious, if one allows it, tends to balance out one's moods. His critical anima - perhaps additionally a reference to his wife - asks him to be more patient when he's complaining, but then criticizes him if he's too compliant. If he's too full of himself, she reduces him to a weed; if too weedy, she rebukes him. Jung associated the anima with moods in men, probably simply because men are not encouraged to be well tuned to their moods and so this fine tuning becomes a feature of the discarded or undeveloped unconscious personality. In women, it is opinions that are carried by the animus, again because women are not traditionally trained in philosophy or logical discourse where views can be assessed more rigorously.

Certainly, this incident yesterday has thrown me off balance and is pushing me to review my own assessment of the Church, of its policies on women's sexuality and fertility, and ultimately of my own motherhood. The word "mentor" came up in the interview: I was not simply to mind the little ones but also to provide some sort of role model for the mother. This was perhaps bigger than I'd envisaged. If the Church has the funds and the infrastructure to reach women in need, should I not go along with it despite my reservations regarding its overall philosophy on fertility issues? If I'm perceived as being useful, is that not enough?

In the end, as usual, I decided to sleep on it and see how I felt in the morning. It was a complaining mood that confronted me and, given that this would be a balancing mood, I gather that I've been over accepting of something. Too compliant about something. I really have been too "good". It's not immediately clear to me right now in what way I've been too compliant: I can only recall the trivial matter of having to write out my name, address and phone number far too many times. I kept having to do it on this and that piece of paper. I should have been rude but more self-protective and told the interviewer where to shove it all.

I guess this is what really got to me, the way we pile great wads of paper between us instead of simply relating. It makes me realize why I've become such a hermit: I just hate all that phoney, legalistic excuse for human exchange. It's just not real. Oddly enough, because Rumi exposes himself with authenticity in his verses, I feel I have a truer relationship with him than I could have with any "real" person "out there". Because he can stand naked, so can I.

Ah, where to find that voice of wisdom, that answer to the famous serenity prayer about accepting what we can't change, changing what we can, and finding the wisdom to know the difference? The wisdom is the hard thing. Perhaps even just too hard. It might be too much to expect of oneself to do any better than Rumi is doing in this verse, being buffeted about from this extreme to the other, swinging wildly from side to side, or bouncing manically up and down. So long as one can laugh gently at oneself, as Rumi does in this verse, is this not good enough?


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