Whenever I write a serious journal (or any serious piece of writing), inevitably, my father comes up, and not always as an example of how best to move forward! He was a man who passed through long periods of low or no creativity when nothing seemed to be happening either inside or out. I have his journals as evidence of these gaps. He would start a blank book with an entry or two, a few pages of stoking his embers of purpose, but nothing would come of it. After a few pages of blowing on embers he would stop, and the rest of the book would remain blank, which was much more interesting in a perplexing sort of way, than anything he might have written.
While he was in his sixties and into his seventies, he was doing all his research for his book, Pauli and Jung: The Meeting of Two Great Minds. (note: Austrian-born Swiss theoretical physicist, Wolfgang Pauli was one of the pioneers of quantum physics.) My father spent his seventies writing draft after draft, getting it right. My least favorite chapter was one he titled, "A Lesson In Opposites" where he discusses an active imagination exercise of Pauli's that Pauli referred to as "The Piano Lesson". This chapter was the most challenging for him to write. There was something indigestible in it for me, and possibly him, like when you are chewing something tough that your teeth can't break down, so you either spit it out or risk choking. I feel like that chapter revealed a collective shadow of Jung, Pauli, Von Franz, and my father, but for Pauli it represented the elephant in the room, a whopping complex.
Where am I going with this?
On the cover page of my copy of his book he wrote: "I give this book with trembling hand to my son Gary whose bright future lies ahead." I don't remember him handing me this book "with trembling hand" but, according to the date of the inscription, he gave it to me two years before he died. He dedicated his work to "all those who hunger for what is missing".
I am at the far end of my sixth decade, as old as he was when he was in the thick of writing that book. I can feel my brain slowing down, processing slower, like Hal, the space ship's computer, in Stanley Kubrick's (1968 film) Space Odyssey: 2001, when astronaut Dave is downgrading Hal's formidable intelligence and memory until Hal's voice becomes childlike. That is what happens on one level as we age. But, like Hal, maybe we need to be shut down because we are too hung up on the "mission". Old age can return us to our childlike core. We give back the great extravagant gifts of life, everything, until there is nothing left but what we came with - our soul, our body and our naivete' before the infinite!
But there is work to do before I give back too much of my brain and my wits and my facility with language. I'm using a slightly older word processor these days, so to speak, but I think it is adequate for what I have to express.
But the same goes for my body, which is far from what it used to be but still gets me around. I am watching friends adapt to the same surrender. It can be a little demoralizing, but isn't it when we surrender and become vulnerable that other influences, knowledge, even ecstasy enter in?