The book I mentioned, the problem with Zen, and my kid, in no particular order

The book I mentioned an entry or two earlier, I didn’t mention the title because the whole joke was that is how I respond to most of the books I read, while I’m reading them. Once I finish them I might be disappointed, or not, but during the reading part, I’m rarely so critical.

This book, though, because you asked, was called, is called, something with archetypes. No, wait, something with Heroes. It’s about archetypes. Hang on, let me google it at amazon.

Awakening the Hero Within, it’s called.

Sorry if that link doesn’t work, I can’t be arsed to see if I copied it right.

I shop for books by walking down the aisle with a basket and buying whichever books jump in as I walk past. You know how some books find you? Reading this book, this is all new to me, this stuff. Maybe you are well-versed in archetypes and that sort of thing. I have been a Parcival fan for a long time, and the author mentions Parcival a lot. Same with the Grail legend. So I dig it on that level, it gets through to me in that way. Any psychology book, many of them discuss the same thing in different ways. What’s important is that a book gets through to you in your present situation. This one is getting through to me at the moment.

Speaking of psychology, my daughter had a job taking tickets at a local exhibition last weekend. We have both had that job when we were younger, too, good summer job, and Alpha and I both mentioned to her how lots of people would try to buffalo their way inside without tickets in one way or another. Beta is really hard-assed, though, and let only the cute boys in, and only the most charming of those.

Otherwise, she was officer Beta. She said a weekend on that job and you didn’t need to study psychology, you had already learned everything you would need in life.

So this book. The author says a few interesting things. She talks about the development of ego, self and soul as a journey, what she calls the hero’s journey. Joseph Campbell gets mentioned. This and that. One of the interesting things she says is that the ego is the container for the other stuff learned and experienced along the journey, and that it must be developed before you can develop self and soul. And not, annihilate the ego and stuff. Not at first, any way.

Indeed, you have some of these spiritual disciplines, the ones that talk about doing away with the ego in one way or another; we sometimes forget that a lot of them are not in a big hurry to do that, though. You have to go through a long process before you reach that point.

This isn’t a book report. If that sounds like a book for you, take a look at it in the library or something. I’m only half done with it, but I’m still liking it.

At one point she mentions the Zen idea of doing one thing at a time. When you sweep, just sweep. Sweeping I can manage. Same with shoveling snow or digging a hole in the ground. When I do those things, I’m right there doing it and that’s all I’m doing.

Same with eating. When I eat, people always say I make it look so good. I’m not concentrating on eating, exactly. I’m just eating, period, all of me. Not just chewing with my mouth while I think about one thing and take a call on my cellphone and watch something else out the window.

But this whole idea falls apart when I think about taking a crap and reading the newspaper, because those two things so go together. I can’t possibly take a crap without reading the newspaper. Or: getting a talking-to from your wife and thinking about something else. How can you not do that? Or driving: if I was driving when I was driving, I’d remember more of the commute to work, I think. I don’t know what I’m doing when I’m driving, but it’s obviously not driving. I get to work and am all, how did I get here? You know that feeling?

On the other hand, there’s my daughter, taking tickets. Yesterday was the last day of the exhibition and some guy was trying to get inside without letting her tear his tickets. No idea what his plan was for the tickets, giving them to someone else so they could get inside too or something. He was yelling at my daughter, she said, insulting things, disparaging her ability to comprehend the situation, that sort of thing. When you’re 16, or a woman, people sometimes think they can buffalo you. But thing is about Beta, when she’s tearing tickets, she’s tearing tickets. So she tore off his ticket stubs and that was it.

It’s the ego development, I think. That’s one of the core things that I like about this book. Being grounded in a strong sense of self as a point of departure for everything else. Alpha and I were talking about Gamma and what a negotiator she is and how she often gets what she wants because she knows exactly what it is that she wants. And how a person who knows what they want is unstoppable to the extent of their ability and possibilities. And how that was always one of our parenting goals, to give our children strong egos and strong senses of self and strong knowledge of what they want and how it seems that we have been successful in that, only of course, who knows if it was due to anything we did that they turned out like that or if that’s just the way they turned out, independently of us?

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