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Painting by Jacek Malczewski, In The Dustcloud

“Slow’ and ‘down’ are modes of the soul; they are connective modes, ways of keeping connected to oneself and to one’s environment. ‘Slowing downwards’ refers to more than simply moving slowly, it means growing down towards the roots of one’s being. Instead of outward growth and upward climb, life at times must turn inward and downward in order to grow in other ways. There is a shift to the vertical down that re-turns us to root memories, root metaphors, and timeless things that shape our lives from within. Slowing downwards creates opportunities to dwell more deeply in one’s life, for the home we are looking for in this world is within us all along. The lost home that we are seeking is ourselves; it is the story we carry within our soul.” — Michael Meade

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The world will ask you who you are, and if you don’t know the world will tell you. — Carl Jung

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“You are more than you think you are. There are dimensions of your being and potential for realization and consciousness that are not included in your concept of yourself. Your life is much deeper and broader than you conceive it to be here. What you are living is but a fractional inkling of what is really within you; what gives You life, breath, and depth.”

~ Joseph Campbell

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Later it all began to change, and that is the story of separation, the myth of the Fall; and the patterns of distortion that covered the Earth became stronger and stronger, until today we find our self in a world that has lost its way, that is spinning more and more out of balance. — Llewelyn Vaughan-Lee

We live in a world that has lost its way, a world that, as Jung indicates, we have to resist or else lose our own way as well. We artists want to find and express our depths. We want to become substantial beings. We naturally desire to be real and to speak of reality. We hope we can introduce beauty and meaning into the world.

A high ambition indeed, but one that keeps the soul of the world from dying.

In a culture that prefers shallow people, it’s essential to pay attention to how our surroundings encourage or discourage us as we grapple with keeping body and soul together. Still, we must find our reason for living. For most of us this is a life or death struggle of the soul, and it can’t be deferred. Looking around, we can’t help but be shocked at how common soul death is. It’s the norm. Picasso remarked that every child is an artist, but few manage to keep the spirit alive into adulthood.

A creative, playful and generous engagement with life is as good an inoculation as any against the pressure to become a drone. To keep the world from “spinning out of balance”, we have to keep ourselves from spinning out of balance. To keep the world in balance, we have to become people of depth. We have to become real. We have a responsibility to fend off the pressure to stay shallow.

This is not a mission that will engage very many of us who live in the “advanced” nations. We’ve been bought off with comforts and distractions. We have a belief system that supports our lifestyle. Beauty and meaning are not high on our list of life objectives.

Is the planet going to tolerate this much longer? I doubt it. Our current situation is an important challenge to our insistent blindness. Similar challenges are in store as long as we cling to that blindness. The immediate future looks fraught.

To see or not to see, that is the question.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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