Small archetypes

Wishing I understood why I suffer so about and through certain work projects.


I can only do what I do, and  then accept my failings and imperfections and try harder next time. I love the work, I learn from it. I research and write and rewrite and edit. It’s what I do, a life shaped by  morning meditations, writing, shared intimacy, conversation, daily tasks around the house, dogs and doggy games, dreams when I sleep, then  more meditation, prayer and writing.Work is a necessity, a joy, a habit.

But when I’m not working, I’m crushed  by fears and imperfections, doubts, hatred of the tedium, resentful of the time spent, certain I am not meant to do this. Then I sit down, give a  wide-open sigh and begin working again and it is fine.


Talked to someone yesterday about archetypes. He says he is an alchemist. The housemate says she is a healer. (All lower case.) My friend D says she is a hunter, an Artemis. I  think  I have many cross-cutting, cross-dressing, cross -current archetypes and that I am a Hermit for now. A woman in a cave, a woman reading oracles, a woman burning on a pillar in the desert. Ascetic, solitary, inward, happiest alone, building an inner hermitage filled with birds’ nests, clouds, treetops, eaves and  chimneys. If I had a beard, you could forage in it.

The world is porous.


We interpenetrate one another’s realities, blunder into one another’s hearts.


The housemate is standing on the beach looking at a stormy black sea. She says it is so cold the sea is spitting ice.


The small dog keeps gnawing her front paws  so I bandage them, The work waiting for me feels impossible, exhausting, hopeless, undoable. In the unweeded flowerbed spears of  paper narcissi, green spears  of leaf and pointy stem,  are coming up through black earth. The sun is hot on my shoulders and head but I cannot get warm.

“And my body slopes toward yours no matter how level the ground.”

—  Rosmarie Waldrop, from “Conversation 2” in Curves to the Apple

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4 comments on “Small archetypes

  1. This is so beautiful, and I especially love the transition (or lack thereof, the line break) to “the world is porous.”

    I know what you mean about the work. I think the kind of work you do takes a certain mental energy that can sometimes be difficult to summon on command. Or maybe it’s the (projected) resentment over having to expend that precious energy in that particular way, on someone else’s timeframe. There’s probably a fear in there somewhere, but of what? I don’t know.

  2. The world is porous.

    That is certainly my experience of it lately. The borders between outside and inside have become threadbare and ethereal- it is a beautiful way to live, where everything is pregnant with potential and at the same time utterly luminous and empty.

    Again and again you provide the example for us, as embodied creatures, to keep returning to the concrete and specific, to find the numinous in the mundane artifacts of life.

    Think what you like, go on any limitless journey of the heart, soul, and mind, but you know, keep the kitchen tidied up, pet the dogs, wash the floors, do the work that seems that it will kill you.

    I find you to be an honest and reliable teacher. Your beard rewards foraging.



  3. Syd says:

    I am glad to not be consumed by work anymore. It had its time in my life and now that time has morphed into something else. More time to play and not feel compelled. It feels good. This week has been one of garden work–the hot and humid days making me sweat as I pick blueberries from the bushes in the garden. And then I come into the house and feel the cool air. Up early and to bed late as the heat bakes outside.

  4. Henk says:

    Beautifully written. Thank you.

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