Wednesday, August 6, 2008

That One Angry Guy Is Me

It's been sixteen days since my brief experience with the young Nordic man punching the River Path Sign in Two Rivers Park (See past three posts for the story). Since then, I've invested myself wholely in that moment, for it feels very numinous and uncanny to me, good signs that further investigation would be meaningful. I've wondered if, with my pronounced ability to imagine, I might have invented the episode whole cloth, but, no, it really happened, down to his rant as I remember it and the sheen of his blondness. It's led me to much wondering, pondering, reflecting and to so many pertinent questions.

Why was I the only witness?
Where did my courage in that moment to confront him come from?
Why was the river striped red and blue that Sunday on the RiverPath?
What does the sign really say?
When do "real" and metaphoric life merge like those rivers into a greater swell?

I went back to the Sign that evening: I not only wanted to check the damage but also to see if the sign had anything on it that could inspire That One Angry Guy to his punching. It's heavily covered with thick plastic, very scratched but still transparent enough to see what's underneath. There's a nice map of the RiverPath's winding trail along the Roaring Fork up to 23rd Street (these signs need updating) and a brief history of the Path's process to creation, the matching grants and private donations, a list of the Town Council members: nothing I could see except its innocence. While I know his actions mystify me and I don't choose to share his mind, I can imagine that perhaps he saw in the sign "our" desire to please ourselves when others in the world are in agonies of starvation and peasant-decimation? But, that is me. I don't know, but he clearly took the sign to represent "You People!" and needed to punch "us" from his own agony.

Perhaps it was just for me, seeking a story and always seeking "me" and my fit with the world?

At any rate, as I do very often with my experiences in our world of the senses, I decided to take on the "real" experience as if I had dreamed it, caught it as a dream, journalled it, then worked to interpret it, in Jungian fashion. This allows me to see the interaction as a mirror of what is also happening in my psyche, because, in dream analysis, all the participants and the dreamer are parts of the dreamer's psychic makeup. In other words, That One Angry Guy and Walking Doug are parts of myself, interacting, for meaning, insight, potential change.

There is one angry young man in me, as I discovered this year in Nicaragua, and I've been working to transform that anger into greater gratitude, as a result of other dream work that has inspired me to continue building my life towards empowering a culture of gratitude, in my home, former school culture, and now, in my writing. That work is the psychic context of the dream. Other dreamwork has also invested my summer with delight, as I'm actively actualizing my strong and youthful masculine energy after years of denying "him" because it usually got me in trouble. I've been riding on a Harley and being bold in a new way. Another part of the context.

The meeting of these parts of myself occurs north of the river walk bridge, resulting in a short conversation. We talk, but I'm dismissed, as if irrelevant. The young man stays there briefly, punching the sign, then disappears, while the elder crosses over to the Glenwood (home) side of the bridge over the unifying waters of two rivers, one silty, the other clear, on his pathway. He says he feels "free."

In dream analysis lingo, when my young masculine meets my wiser mature masculine, in this dream, what seems to matter most is that the mature "me" is listening to the younger, asking the pertinent questions, looking for connection from this wild angry guy, also seeking connection, even in his anger. The "Wise Walker" is building bridges of communication, a metaphor I have empowered with great significance in my life. The fact that the real experience happened on the north side of a bridge leading to home, south of the bridge, is so numinous to me that I gape. I am a bridge-builder, and I am "bridging" in this waking dream. There's an attempt at dialogue, but the young man is wary, and chooses to return to his physical way of releasing his anger. Wise Walker Douglas departs, gratefully in one piece, rather empowered by his boldness, but not before receiving a new central metaphor from the mingling of the rivers' colors under the bridge, ultimately a yin-yang symbol of the balancing of the tension of the opposites that keeps me living in the Now, empowered.

The symbol is saying to me that the angry red energy of the young male and the clear blue compassion of the elder are one and the same energy in the bigger picture; they are bridged by the power of the heart (the bridge, a gift of Glenwood's people) seeking connection over the tumultuous river of emotions (water in dreams is the emotional nature). One side expresses It in hate; the other side expresses It in love. It is It; the heart bridge unifies them: Listening to my young masculine in compassion rather than in neglect, ego, fear or denial, can empower me affirmatively. Listening to "him" will make him less angry, work towards a more harmonious future.

Affirmation, to me, is not pollyanna positivism: it's the pull of the current of the river merging, the positive and the negative working together to empower. Honestly, who really knows what "POSITIVE" and "NEGATIVE" are? It's all culturally-laden value judgement.

What counts next is what I've learned from this surreal experience, to express myself henceforth from that affirmative space in between, calling on the young male energy to further the thrust of love and gratitude in my life, apt collaborators. I will honor that teenage masculine energy, and this will energize this old "me." What I do with that unified energy will change my life in a very affirmative way, from my choosing to further my integration by listening to the disordered (though none-less-valued) chaos of my "young masculine."

My life is simply extraordinary.

Gracias, CenterDoug, free in the current that pushes the rivers to mingle.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Analysis of "Punching Signs"

I had an experience with a very mysterious and punchy stranger, one who moved and revolted me, at once. I'd intentionally set out riverward to find a subject to write from, on my walk, because my earlier excursions there had led to my gold standard, "Pushing the River." He happened along, punching the River Walk sign (see the past two posts for clarity). Perhaps I wouldn't've been so curious, had I already a story for publication? But I was ravenous for one, and intentionally set, so thank God, it happened.

Over a week, the story unfolded to me. But, I must be honest, for every day of that week, I thought the piece was done and sent it on to my editors, unprofessionally. Now, I feel so foolish for bothering them with my undone stuff, but, at the time, each time, I felt "done," finished, ready to start another. But, NO!

It took my getting to focus with that particular experience--such a long time coming--and it did not happen to me until I remembered the sight of the river beribonned in blue and red to the west for at least half a mile. Zonk! Focus. The yin and the yang, together as one in the river, and me standing over the confluence, observing, right in the flow in the middle. Bonk. How long it takes for me to get it! I flow, midstream, now, "free in the current that pushes the rivers to mingle."

It came together, then, in a way that allowed me to edit the piece from that wondrous metaphor, and to wonder at how long it had taken me to get it before. That One Angry Guy and I, flowing in the river together. I've decided he was an "angel in disguise," just for me. I'd been processing earlier the shift from being angry about the state of the poor in Nicaragua in my writing to being grateful for all my experiences, and Mr. "Angry Guy" showed up. modeling exactly what I did not want to become myself, then disappeared. How strange?! How wonderful, for me. What I've learned! It would probably have happened anyway, but dealing with it in writing has pushed the river.

Gracias, CenterDoug