(Hello, Recollected Life blog ... it's me. Remember me?)
After a sort of foraging expedition of the past few months, I now have more to say on the subject that keeps calling me. Being recollected, about life. What is a person? How do people work? When it goes wrong, what has happened? And why do people unfailingly believe there's such a thing as life going "wrong" or "right" in the first place? Obviously, we have the ability to self-reflect, imagine what is not yet a reality, and change our worlds ...
Gather it in. Collect it. Re-collect it. I do this in my religious life, and I do it all the time with "moments of clarity, attempts to focus, and questions to ponder in the intentional life" I'm trying to live. So ...I've just added another layer. In 2010, Karla McLaren wrote what I think is a fairly important book. The Language of Emotions: What your feelings are trying to tell you. She has addressed the modern, industrialized, socialized, urbanized, thought-laden, enlightenment-hounded, emotionally confused people we find ourselves to be.
I think she's brilliant. She went and studied and figured out and researched and assembled all of the components of this language we're so bad at in our era. (Because she did, I don't have to.) When I assert (as I have for about a decade now) that our emotions are like an instrument panel on a plane in flight, and that they carry information we need, and that we ignore our emotional feedback to our own peril, now I can open and re-open this book, and find the vocabulary and the studies and the research to re-ground myself in the practicalities of the thing. This is good stuff.
And it's another layer for my ongoing (personal) encyclopedia entry.
These models, these languages we all carry - they are the layers of transparencies in the encyclopedias we had on our home bookshelves when I was a kid. Do you remember those old encyclopedias? For the models of the human body or a reptile or an towering office building or anything else with three-dimensional layers, there were layers of clear overlays the reader could peel back, discovering the interconnected systems. (click on that picture of a version still being done - I love this kind of work!)
That is what this book of McLaren's does. It adds another transparency page for my model.
Back when I was taking the Human Studies course, Relationship to the Self, we had to come up with a model of the Human Self. I discovered that the Erickson model of psycho-social development closely paralleled the ancient system of chakras, which itself could be seen in concert with Martha Beck's change cycle (back to Square One at the beginning of all of life's changes, Square Two is ideas, Three is trial and error, Four is maintenance until the next propulsion smack back to Square One). Then there's the ongoing Blue Zones research, being done across the globe, where the healthiest and longest-living groups of people show that they all have the same "Power Nine" things contributing to their lives.
I ended up with Chakra Man ... a really boggling diagram, in which all the layers were present ... so it's kind of over-full of information. But this is what it looked like to me when I was taking that course. (if you click on it, it will be as large as a regular sheet of paper, and you'll be able to read all the parts)
My thinking goes like this. If the most ancient systems and the most modern research all look basically the same, they're probably all observing the same universally true phenomenon. And, within the developments and health of the organism (each human organism, and, I suspect, the amalgam of humans that form a culture) there are interconnected systems that can inform and aid, or can oppose and hinder, all the other systems and developmental curves.
A body has a nervous system, a cardiovascular system, a musculature, a skeleton ... a human has foundational chakra/developmental phase/elements, and life cycle elements that parallel the body's systems ... a society has all of these things too. It's very wheel within a wheel. And it's freaking hard to diagram!! I just might need to design the book of transparency overlays to explain what I'm talking about.
So here's the work I'm working on in my current work.
Cultural transparency: Blue Zones, Philip Zimbardo, and (I think ... but I'm not definite about this yet) Joseph Campbell. Something about the hero's journey is scratchy - but I don't know why or where, so that one's still in provisional status
Childhood transparency: the incredible and delightful currently researching Alison Gopnik and both of her most recent books, the concepts in The Continuum Concept, and Kevin Leman's work on Birth Order
Intra-personal transparency, for the emotional/personality type clarity page: Lenore Thomson, James Pennebaker, Martha Beck, and now, Karla McLaren
There's more, of course. Lots more.
But today, the big news is that Karla McLaren has written a book that explains the healthy, practical, useful, and clarifying use of our emotional systems. Emotions do not need to be ignored or denigrated, they don't need to be our confusing and eccentric masters, and they cannot be commandeered and tamed. Emotions don't work like that. They're out internal waterways, and damming them up or draining them dry are both seriously bad ideas.
Thanks, Karla. I am deeply grateful for your work.