Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Build out if there's little room for soul

For Spirituality and Health, in a column called, "Changing Directions", Thomas Moore dismisses the metaphor of "growth" in favour of "discovery" for a soulful life.
"People often refer to the process of becoming a better person as "growth." They go to conferences so they can grow, and they see challenges as opportunities for growth. Years ago I read an essay by James Hillman in which he expressed his distaste for this metaphor. I was convinced and ever since have avoided the word. It tends to be sentimental and doesn't accurately describe what we go through. For one thing, not growing is just as relevant - being stuck, failing, and making mistakes all help a great deal in your becoming a rich and complex person.

I prefer to see personal development as the discovery of a new room in the soul, some area of life that has great potential but has just been found. When I see a person on the threshold of such a turn, I imagine him facing a doorway that he has to enter with some courage and abandon. It might be a new self that is being offered as an expansion or complexifying of who he is. This is not growth, not a steady evolution; rather, it's a turn, an angular move in a new direction."
Moore includes the role of dreams and the need to explore unexamined spaces, before sharing a personal turn with readers.
"What is required more than anything in choosing life over death is self-confrontation - facing your fears and resistances, sorting out all the emotions and possibilities and relationships, which then allows you to make a move and complete the turn. You may have to face the fact that you have a long and abiding anger or that you are inwardly roiling with envy or jealousy. These emotions may hinder your move into new life, and so you have to acknowledge them, feel them, and let them work on you. There is usually a big price to pay for entry into a new room of the soul.
. . .
For a long time in my own life, I tried to avoid the room of the soul that had a sign on it that read "Parenthood." I argued convincingly with friends that it was not in my imagination to have children. Then my stepson appeared, and then my daughter. It has been a very good room in which to dwell. I didn't grow into being a father; I took a sharp turn in my life and built an addition.

Dreams don't say much about growing, but they show all kinds of ways to keep adding to your home. The expansion requires imagination, risk, cost, and creativity, but its reward is a deeply satisfying way of life. You will have the structure and emotional environment in which to thrive."
In the last issue of Spirituality and Health this year, Moore responds to his column title, "Leaving the Church?"