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As the weather has turned warmer here in Seattle, I've been thinking of the vacations my family took at the beach when I was growing up on the east coast. And right in the middle of that stroll down memory lane, the idea for this newsletter's essay, "A Day At The Beach," came to me. I realized that in my first experiences as a child at play in the waves, there was a metaphor I had not fully understood until recently, almost 40 years later. I hope my "Reflections" on those days as a boy by the ocean will shine a little light into your summer...without the sunburn.
I'm also happy to announce "Self-Care Second Saturdays
," my new series of monthly Saturday-morning workshops designed to be brief, accessible, affordable, and fun. Details are below.
When you've finished reading my essay and the announcement about the workshops, keep scrolling down and you'll find the popular feature "3 Good Poems" (including one of my own), plus info on a video that captures a breathtakingly beautiful summer solstice celebration, an interview that sheds some light on the "mid-life crisis," and one of the most inspiring lectures I've ever attended (available on CD so you can be inspired, too).
Finally, just for grins, I'll boast that this may be the only newsletter in history to feature two different people with the name "Wolfgang." See for yourself--read on...and enjoy!
P.S. It's good to share! Forward this newsletter to others you think may enjoy it, and invite them to sign up for my mailing list using the box found on any page of my web site.
Reflections: "A Day At The Beach."
For several years in a row while I was a young boy, my family took summer vacations on the Delaware shore. I remember my first glimpse of the ocean, the way I felt both drawn to it and a little frightened by it. As my father and siblings and I ventured out into the waves, we would try to jump over them, to rise up above them, sometimes succeeding, sometimes getting knocked down and rolled around in the undertow.
I remember the first time I saw a stranger do something different as a particularly large and threatening wave approached: they dove down into it. At first this seemed counter-intuitive, but then I tried it myself. Yes, I had to hold my breath long enough for the wave to pass above me, and there was the fear that I would not be able to find air when I tried to come up again. But I discovered that while these waves were often tumultuous on the surface, they were calmer and more readily navigated when I made the effort to go deeper, to go into them and through them rather than over them.
Many people come to me for psychotherapy because they've been knocked down trying to jump over some of the bigger "waves" in their life, and they've come away with some painful scrapes and bruises. They see the next waves forming on the horizon, and they are frightened. They want to know how to jump even higher, hoping they can rise above whatever is coming their way.
Sometimes, that's all they need: a little support and encouragement in rising above the waves where that approach is enough. But most of the time, our work involves helping them learn to stay calm, to draw a deep breath, and to dive in and move through whatever life, in the wisdom and rhythms of its own currents, is throwing at them.
I remind them of Antonio Machado's simple four-line poem:
"Mankind owns four things
that are no good at sea:
rudder, anchor, oars,
and the fear of going down."
It takes some time to make peace with that "fear of going down," but those who do often begin to find a deeper, calmer relationship with the currents of their life, as diving down and then coming up for air become as natural as inhaling and exhaling. Those who stay with the process even longer may discover something else entirely, something akin to the capacity to breathe underwater, opening up for them a world in the oceanic depths that is infinitely more vast, wondrous, and full of life than the one on the surface.
Two movies come to mind that illustrate this process. The first is Ron Howard's 1984 romantic comedy "Splash," starring Tom Hanks (pay special attention to the last scene, just before and during the credits). The other is Jame's Cameron's 1989 underwater epic "The Abyss," starring Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (watch for the scene where Mastrantonio's character chooses to drown, and the one where Harris's character chooses to make a dive he believes will be "a one-way trip"). Both films are flawed, and are very different from each other in tone, but they each have a few moments that rise to the level of "cinema-therapy," and that show the possibilities that open up when we are willing to "dive in."
Nearly four decades after diving into my first wave, I still struggle with the inclination to try and rise above it all, with the part of me that chooses to get knocked down and rolled around rather than face my fear of going deep, going under, going through. But I've come through enough waves, and glimpsed enough of that deeper world to know I want to try and live my life there, rather than on the surface.
I'm determined to keep at it. And to support others who are ready to take the plunge. Who knows what we may find...
Upcoming workshops & lectures by Dan Keusal
This Fall I'm launching a new series of monthly workshops:
Attend one, or attend them all. Take a morning to enlighten your mind, relax your body, and refresh your spirit. Gather with others for an experience of community. Come enjoy opportunities for self care that are brief, affordable, accessible, and fun! Each workshop takes place on a Saturday morning from 10 AM - 12:30 PM, costs only $45, and includes an informative and inspiring presentation, along with time for personal reflection and group sharing. The first three workshops in this series will be:
Saturday September 10, 2011:
"Tending The Soul: 8 1/2 Practices For A Rich, Engaged Life.
Saturday October 8, 2011: "Getting More From Your Relationships: Embracing Your Spouse, Friends, Partner, Co-Workers, Family Members, And Others As Your Best Teachers."
Saturday November 12, 2011:
"You Have All The Time In The World: Transforming Your Relationship With Time
." (just in time for the busy holiday season!)
For details and information on how to register and pay, click on the links above, or visit the "Workshops
" page of my web site!
* * *
For more than 25 years, I've offered lectures and workshops on a wide range of subjects, varying in length from brief talks appropriate for a breakfast or lunch meeting, to evening-long presentations, to day-long or weekend workshops.
If you would like me to come speak to your group, please call me at (206) 523-1340, or email
You can view a list of the organizations
that have invited me to speak, and a list of my recent workshops
, by visiting my web site.
Quotes For Inspiration And Action
"Nothing is a greater impediment to being on good terms with others than being ill at ease with yourself."
(Honore de Balzac)
"Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come."
"This at bottom is the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular, and the most inexplicable that we may encounter."
(Rainer Maria Rilke)
"Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together make genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius."
(Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
Resources for a Richer Life
More than just "self-help," Resources For A Richer Life is meant to bring you music, movies, books, magazines, web sites, events, videos and more that will stir your soul, and awaken the deepest, most alive parts of you.
(interview/podcast): reflections on mid-life
(James Hollis). In this inspiring and informative interview, Jungian Analyst James Hollis speaks to questions such as: What do we mean by a "mid-life" crisis? Can such a crisis happen only
at "mid-life"? How can we make a creative response to the second half of life? Hollis is the author of Finding Meaning In The Second Half Of Life
and What Matters Most: Living A More Considered Life
. This interview is part of the Shrink Rap Radio series of interviews. One note: be patient--the actual interview doesn't begin until nearly 3 minutes into the podcast.
(video): 11,000 Lanterns Floating Over Poland. On June 21,2011, in celebration of the "Midsummer Night's Festival," or the Summer Solstice, residents of the town of Poznan, Poland launched 11,000 floating paper lanterns into the night sky. As I watched the home-made video of this joyous but still contemplative celebration, I couldn't help but think of the contrasts between this event and the ways the U.S. marks its own summer celebration, the 4th of July.
(lecture/CD): "Thresholds" (David Whyte). This lecture, recorded live at Seattle's Benaroya Hall back in 2003, is one of my very favorite presentations, one I listen to over and over again, and one that leaves me feeling inspired every time I hear it. This 2-CD set showcases Whyte's gifts as a storyteller, and also features his performing and reflecting upon a wide variety of poems, including Goethe's "The Holy Longing," which I've featured above in "3 Good Poems." I'll add that Whyte is also very funny, and that I was there in the audience when this lecture was recorded.
3 Good Poems
"Part of what makes poetry different from other kinds of writing is that you can't paraphrase a poem. It can only be said in that way."
~ Elizabeth Austen
In this edition of "3 Good Poems," Andrea Cohen takes issue with a moving company's characterization of the Venus de Milo, and the lyrics to a song I wrote and a classic poem by Goethe further explore the themes in this edition's essay ("A Day At The Beach"). The last two lines of the Goethe poem constitute one of my favorite endings to any poem--don't miss them.
Click on the titles below to read the poems online; you can also access them by going to the "Writings" page of my web site, finding the link for my "e-newsletters," and then clicking on link for the Summer 2011 edition:
- " Truth In Advertising " (Andrea Cohen)
- " The Only Way Out " (Dan Keusal)
- " The Holy Longing " (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
Psychotherapy for Individuals & Couples
I offer Jungian-oriented psychotherapy for individuals and couples. Whether you come to me with a problem (like depression, stress, anxiety, relationship issues) or simply the sense that it's time for a change, I help you look at how that starting point is calling you to grow, and how you can respond with creativity, vitality, and hope.
To learn more, visit my web site by clicking here
To schedule an appointment,
or if you have questions,
call me at (206) 523-1340.
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That's it for this issue of "Living With Purpose and Passion." As always, I welcome your comments & suggestions. You can send me an email or you can call me at (206) 523-1340.To share this newsletter with friends, click on the "Forward Email" link, below.
Dan Keusal, M.S., LMFT
Web site: www.DanKeusal.com