Carrie left this morning. So, now it’s just me and the dog here. One more day of writing and enjoying this protected creative space. I’m preparing now to write for as long as I can this morning and this evening I’ll take a drive out to Pacific Beach to have dinner with a long-time friend and her family. I finished Journey of the Heart this morning and want to share some of my thoughts on this book that truly came to me at just the right time.
There was a point in reading this book when I became so enthralled that my eyes followed one word to the next with eagerness. This was not at the beginning. I wonder in fact if the book should have started at Chapter 3. It’s a short book and can be read in a day if one was so inclined.
The gist of the book is revealed in the subtitle, “The Path of Conscious Love”. Wellwood proposes an eyes—and heart—wide open kind of love.
The last text my freshmen read this year was Romeo and Juliet. And in teaching this play, I am always surprised to realize both how much and how little things have changed. We are always wanting love to happen to us, to persist without our effort. Or, like Mercutio, we are skeptical of love at all, reducing it to the physical act of sex or scorning the idea of it at all. We are, as Wellwood writes, al of us wounded and wanting in love. The core of Wellwood’s idea is that love is Romeo’s heaven and Mercutio’s earth and that it doesn’t happen, but keeps happening, and can only reach it’s full potential with our open and honest participation. This resonates with me and in reading this work I both came across some new ways of looking at things as was reminded of some ideas that I have long held inside and were happy to be pulled to the surface in a new context.
I think this book may be a crucial text for our time. The state of relationships between men and women does not seem to me to be becoming more liberated as some would argue. There is a glaring imbalance that our current popular culture feeds and extends. I’m not sure how to quite put my finger on this, but I see the signs of it all around me. How many books are being published with titles resembling, “Women Who Do Too Much”? Many! And oh ladies, in our liberation and our obsession with being all we can be, what have we left for the men? At my son’s eighth grade graduation I could not help but notice that all the girls wore make-up, formal dresses—many in heels. Yet, I did not see one boy dressed up, and while the girls strutted confidently around, the boys slouched. The female ego has grown bold. And how will these two halves come together in love? How will they learn to find their own unique and diverse selves amidst all that they are told they can and should be?
Here are some of my favorite quotes from Wellwood’s book, which urges us to place all of our previous patterns and beliefs out on the proverbial table and to select with honesty and consciousness what aspects of ourselves will allow both individuals in a relationship to reach their full potential and experience a deeper connection to each other.
“Relating to passion in a sane and healthy way is one the first and one of the greatest challenges in a relationship” (58).
“The deeper a soul-connection goes, however, the more it brings our karmic patterns and personal neuroses to the surface” (89).
“Real intimacy, in short, brings upour unfinished business—all the rough spots in ourselves and our partner that still need to be polished, refined, and further developed” (90).
“Furthermore, we come to believe that our story accurately represents the way things really are. Yet in truth it is only a dream, a conditioned pattern of beliefs that keeps creating the kind of situation that wounded us in the first place” (109).
“No matter how close to another person we may be, part of us is radically and forever alone and, in its own way, wild and free” (116).
“That is where an awareness practice such as mindfulness or meditation pr present-centered psychotherapy can be particularly useful. These disciplines slow down the busy mind. By sharpening our awareness and discernment, they can help us separate our immediate experience from our stories” (126).
“If a couple is willing to let the patterns their relationship has settled into die, it can keep being reborn” (132).
“The love between man and woman can provide powerful glimpses of sacred vision” (139).
“The profound question love poses is, ‘Can you face your life as it is; can you look at all the pain and darkness as well as the power and light in the human soul, and still say yes?’” (140).
“tyranny of the orgasm” (175).
This is a book about acting out of our conscious mind, out of intention, an idea I’ve some across in my study and practice of yoga time and again. But to see it here in this new context—this more specific context—in this book that celebrates the paradoxes and the possibilities between us, that offers up the notion that love is something we cultivate and participate in—this–makes me happy it was passed on to me, that is now part of the pool of my experience.
All right, getting back to the novel now… 🙂
A few hours later…
This evening I went out to Sara’s place in Pacific Beach. I was able to see her beautiful family, home, and garden and see another old Friend (Jen). What a great way to end this trip. Love these two beautiful ladies!