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VAST FORWARD – Trebbe Johnson

Grabbing the Great Now from the tiny now


Sep 11, 2018 09:43 am

A friend told me recently that she’s been feeling flat, stuck, unmotivated. She’s impatient for some new direction to emerge, to said.

I told her about Jung’s image of stuckness. Our inner energies are like a stream, he said. Sometimes they get blocked, as if a big boulder has rolled into the stream, and the waters can’t follow their course through the banks the way they used to. In fact, said Jung, the river is never really stuck. When the flow can’t get around that boulder, it seeks out new pathways for its momentum. It goes sideways, makes oxbows, tunnels underground.

It’s the same thing with our soul, our psyche, our life force, I told my friend. Even now, it’s digging out new channels.

“I’m waiting!” she said.

But we have to do more than wait. We have to pay attention and pursue those streams to see where they’re leading. Or, to use the metaphor I worked with in my first book, The World Is a Waiting Lover, we have to follow the call of the Beloved. The Beloved is the archetypal divine lover of myth, religion, and psychology, and in our life it shows up as that which is seducing us. That intriguing seducer could be a person, an idea, a cause, a country, a particular painting in an art museum, a thing you’ve always wanted to learn. Whatever it is, it’s calling you into the unknown and alluring.

For twenty years I was seduced by the concept shared with me by an Oneida man I did a video about, that “waste is an orphan from the circle of life.” I searched and searched for how to manifest this beautiful, deep way of thinking about hurt places in our lives and finally founded Radical Joy for Hard Times. A friend of mine had wanted for years to learn how to play the cello. Now, in her 60s, she’s doing it.

Life is always seducing us, in small ways and large. The tantalizing seducer doesn’t always show up loud and clear either. We have to listen closely. What news stories attract us? What are we thinking about these days? What do our dreams say? What messages or artists or events are tugging? When I did workshops about the Call of the Beloved, I used to suggest to participants that they make a list of all the things, tiny and great, that are beckoning to them in their lives right now. Then put the list in a prominent place and pay attention and try acting on some of them.

The more we get engaged with our life, the more we follow those channels that are pushing off in new directions when the main stream is blocked—the more we follow the call of the Beloved—the more life will embrace us.

What I’m Reading

I just started reading Francis Weller’s The Wild Edge of Sorrow, which friends have been recommending to me for a few years. It’s beautifully written and profound. Weller advocates entering into the well of our many griefs with mindfulness and gratitude for how they can open us up and change us. He says this: “Grief is subversive, undermining our society’s quiet agreement that we will behave and be in control of our emotions. It is an act of protest that declares our refusal to live numb and small.”

News & Links

I am super excited about my upcoming book tour on the West Coast, October 10-21! I’ll be reading at a bookstores in Seattle, doing three events at the amazing Bioneers conference, and speaking at two colleges, Humboldt and CIIS. I’m especially looking forward to three events organized by private individuals at their own homes in Corvallis and Ashland, Oregon and Sebastopol, California. There, it won’t just be me reading and talking, but we’ll have real discussions with the guests about the places in their lives that are hurt or endangered and how we can respond. Please come yourself and tell any of your friends who live in these areas! For more information, see this page on my website.

A Savory Moment

The moment when I opened the big box from North Atlantic Books and there it was: my new book. The realized, physical, manifested thing in my hands after so many years of writing and rewriting, finding my way to the right way to tell the story, and getting rejected by multiple agents and publishers before finally finding (and being found by) North Atlantic Books.

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Trebbe Johnson · 153 Jefferson Ave. · Thompson, PA 18465 · USA

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