The epiphany came to me last night at 4 o’clock in the morning. I had a restless sleep for many reasons including knowing that the first part of the blog was not yet developed, and I didn’t yet have a clue what Part 2 is all about. I do know it’s something to do with the human condition.
The exploration really began when I started to take in the words of Joseph Campbell in his book, “The Power of Myth”. His language based on Jung’s archetypes led me to the Carol S. Pearson’s book, “The Hero Within”. I finally finished the chapter on the Martyr archetype, and it was the one chapter I was avoiding. I had a resistance to this archetype because it screamed “Mother!” to me. I don’t think I need to explain, but I will say that I’m not a mother so I wouldn’t fully know the self-sacrifice that mothers do for the love of their off-springs. However, I am aware of my repulsion towards the needless sacrifice when it hurts the person who gives so much of themself. The words, “I don’t want to be part of it” are conjured up from my whole being.
I read through the chapter as though I was watching a horror movie, like the first time I saw “The Exorcist”. I would squeeze my eyes shut and cover my ears during parts of the movie I couldn’t stomach in. I didn’t want to absorb any of it at any level. But I knew that I already had done this when my reaction was to run away and pretend it does not exist. It does exist, otherwise I wouldn’t have built this resistance to it.
So I faced the words and my legs were trudging through the tar sands. “Ahh, this is soooo painfully slow.” It took me longer than it should have to finish the chapter as I found “necessary” distractions (food, coffee, walk the dog, organize my desk…) Eventually I finished and was rewarded (though I didn’t expect that at all.) I did not know this chapter would have the answer, or part of it, in my quest to understand the human condition of death.
“The Wanderer, The Warrior, and the Magician learn increasingly sophisticated lessons about ways to control theri lives and destinies. Ironically, it is only when this control is achieved that the hero can let it go and learn the final lesson of martydom – the acceptance of mortality. Death is basic to nature. The leaves fall of the tree every autumn and make possible spring blossoms. All animal life, including humans, lives by eating other life forms… The cosmic dance of birth and death… speaks to us of Eros – passion. What it requires of us is abandonment of our fears of loss (including our fear of death) into the ecstasy of live and living.” – Carol S. Pearson (“The Hero Within”)
Ultimately she says that the we may reject the “sacrifice philosophy”, but we will discover that we martyr ourselves to our wandering, warrioring and may even our magic-making archetypes until we are more free and fearless in our giving, because it feels less like sacrifice but simply an expression of who we are.
It was a relief. I know have a better understanding and acceptance of my mother’s behavior. She would always save the best morsel of food on her plate for me. I want her desperately to enjoy it for herself, and it annoyed me then that she would not allow herself that pleasure. I could not accept her self-sacrifice. But now I have a better understanding of her motivation to give without thinkig of herself first.
Back to our hero in “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?”m Deckard’s morale issue is simplified by Rachel when she kills his real live Nubian goat after he sent her away. She went to his apartment building and un-abashedly pushed the animal to its death over the edge of the building with Deckard’s wife and neighbor witnessing the act. Upon hearing the news he couldn’t comprehend the useless waste of a precious life. The duality of giving life and killing life is hard to put to one simple sentence in my own words, so I can only repeat: “Life Beget Life” and “Life Feeds on Life”.
I won’t give the rest of the novel’s story, in case you’re interested in reading the book. The ending is different from teh movie. It was written by Philip Dick, and it’s the novel that inspired the movie, “Blade Runner” which I fell in love with the first time I watched it. I’ve always wanted to read the book, and it came to me without looking for it when someone had left a bagful of books for donation at the frontdoor of my former apartment building in Hollywood. (I am a believer of synchronicity.)
As an example, I really did not expect to find an answer to my exploration to one aspect of the human condition. It is infinite, and I’m so glad of that.