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Condors and childhood fascinations

As a child, I was fascinated by nature and nature documentaries and dreamt of working with wild animals when I grew up.

My life took a different course, and instead I had some years as an artist, studied psychology for several years, and later worked with sustainability and then as a therapist.

Now, this childhood dream is again surfacing. Becoming a steward of the land in the Andes comes with the wish to help the land regenerate and rewild and become a refuge for a wide range of beings.

And with this comes another dream: bringing the condors back to this beautiful canyon in the Andes mountains.

Others have done it in other places. They have experience they can share with me. And the land seems good for this project. So why not?

It’s more than a dream. It feels like a calling. It’s something that came and stayed rather than being consciously created.

If it is at all possible, I imagine it will require a lot of time and engagement: Learning about the process. Setting up a local non-profit organization. Finding local allies and people who can join the project. Working with the local government and organizations. Educating the locals and, when possible, getting them onboard to whatever extent they are interested. Finding local bird specialists who can consult. Getting required permits (?). Getting and releasing the condors. Follow-up. And perhaps repeating with a new batch. It may be a decades-long project for all I know.

I don’t know if this will happen. It may not be possible. It may be that the canyon doesn’t provide the right habitat, due to human activity. (Just one poisoned carcass could kill them all.) And the ones who care for the few condors available may have better habitats in mind. If this project is possible, a lot of things still will have to fall in place. And if it does fall into place, it will likely involve far more than I imagine.

Why do I write about this?

Because our childhood fascinations are important. They never go away. When we follow them, it can take any number of outward forms. And you never know when an opportunity comes up to engage in these fascinations and bring them to life in new projects.

For me, engaging in my childhood fascination in this way feels deeply meaningful and aligned with the depth of who I am.

In general, following my fascinations seem important. It’s what brought me on this journey of exploring who and what I am. It’s what brought me into art and then psychology. It’s what gave me the opportunity to work on sustainability with a group of amazing people. It’s what brought me to the zen center many years ago, and the community there. Following my fascinations brings aliveness, meaning, and a sense of deep alignment.

In this case, this dream connects me with my childhood fascination. It may be that this particular project doesn’t come to fruition, but the reconnection in me may lead to something else.

Note: During a kind of shamanic journey some years ago, in a Vortex Healing class, I saw myself in the Andes mountains with condors. They seemed to be my guides. It was an experience that resonated deeply with me. This was a while before I met my now-wife and had any plans of going to Latin America, let alone buying land in the Andes mountains.

Wanting to know how fiction ends

Why do we have an impulse to know how compelling fiction ends?

FICTION CAN GO IN ANY NUMBER OF DIRECTIONS

I have often thought it’s a bit silly.

The story is made up anyway. It can go in a number of widely different directions.

It’s easy to imagine alternate endings that the author plausibly could have chosen. The reason the author landed on a particular ending may be because ofpersonal fascination, wanting to subvert expectations, wanting to draw in an audience, wanting to highlight a particular feature of human life, setting it up for the next part, practical or resource reasons, or something else.

Sometimes, the ending we looked forward to can even be disappointing, as we have seen in a recent TV series (GoT) and final movie trilogy (SW).

If this was the whole picture, there would be little or no reason to want to know how a story ends. So there must be something more going on.

EVOLUTIONARY IMPULSE TO TAKE IN STORIES

One answer may be in evolution. We have likely evolved to be fascinated by stories since these told our ancestors something important about themselves, their community, and their world. Stories gave them a survival advantage.

It’s easy to see how this is the case with stories from real life. The way the story is told reflects community values and orientations, so the listener gets to absorb these. And the content can offer practical information about social interactions, interactions with nature and wildlife, how to deal with unusual events that may return, and so on.

To some extent, fiction – mythology, fairy tales, tall tales – did the same. Fiction also conveyed cultural values and orientations. It gave people insights into interactions within the community and with outsiders and the natural world, and so on.

And it’s easy to see that the ending is an important part of the value of all of these stories.

Taking in compelling stories, from beginning to end, gave our ancestors a survival advantage.

GOOD FICTION REFLECTS DEEPER TRUTHS

There is an obvious value in stories from real life. We learn through the experience of others and how they chose to tell the stories.

And compelling fiction does the same, in a heightened form. Good fiction distills the essence out of real-life stories and reflects universal human truths. They are a way for us to learn something essential about ourselves, others, and the world.

NO CLEAR LINE BETWEEN STORIES FROM REAL LIFE AND FICTION

There is a fuzzy boundary between stories from real life and fiction.

When we tell stories from real life, we inevitably interpret, filter, highlight, leave out, and get things wrong. The story reflects us and what we find important, our worldview and values, our hangups and limitations, and so on. As we know, these stories are often told quite differently by others.

And compelling fiction reflects universal human dynamics and insights and has a deeper truth.

There is always an element of fiction in stories from real life, and elements of real life in fiction.

WHY DO WE WANT TO KNOW THE ENDING?

So why do we want to know the ending of fiction? Even if it’s obviously silly since the story is made up anyway?

One answer may be evolution. It gave our ancestors a survival advantage to take in stories, told by others in their community, from beginning to end.

P.S. Sorry for the lack of simplicity and clarity here. I have had a quite strong brain fog for a few weeks, and it makes it difficult to write with flow and clarity. Hopefully, I can return and clean this up a bit.

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Childhood fascinations

When I was little, what was I fascinated by?

I had two big fascinations. One was nature and the universe, and the other was adventure and exploration.

I loved nature and nature programs on TV, and especially the ones by David Attenborough. I also loved anything that had to do with the universe, and Cosmos by Carl Sagan and Ann Dryan. And I loved adventure and exploration books, especially the classics set in exotic locations.

How does this relate to my life now?

I can find all of this very much alive for me. I still love nature and science, and my sense of adventure and exploration is happening right here in my exploration of who and what I am, and my life in the world.

Can I bring my childhood fascinations more into my life now?

Yes, by remembering these fascinations and bring that sense of adventure and aliveness into these explorations.

How is it to remind myself of these childhood fascinations?

I find that my childhood fascinations still are very much alive for me, bring me alive, and enlivens my activities here and now.

EXPLORING CHILDHOOD FASCINATIONS

Why would we explore our childhood fascinations?

The essence of our childhood fascinations are still with us. If they connect with something in our life now, it tends to enliven what we are doing. If we cannot find it in our life now, perhaps we can bring it into our life? Perhaps we can infuse it into what we are already doing? Or reprioritize and bring a new activity in?

Childhood fascinations tend to reflect our natural inclinations and passions and are often expressed in a more pure form in our childhood, which is why it helps to remember what fascinated us as a child.

What do you find? What were your childhood fascinations? How does it relate to your life now? Can you bring it more into your life now? How is it to remind yourself of your childhood fascinations?

Note: I have a vague memory of Jung talking about this, but couldn’t find a quote when I did a quick search.

A mutual fascination between the divine and the human

In a metaphorical sense, there is a mutual fascination between the divine and the human.

All as the divine

The premise here is that all is the divine.

It’s all – this universe, the living and evolving Earth, humans and our experiences and culture – part of the play of the divine. It’s the divine expressing, experiencing, and exploring itself as all of this. We are the divine temporarily and locally taking the form of a human with experiences we have.

As Alan Watts said, we are the divine playing hide and seek with itself.

The divine’s fascination with the human

In that context, we can say that the divine wants to experience itself as all of existence, all beings, and as humans.

The infinite wants to experience itself as finite. The timeless as time and within time. The spaceless as space and within space. The one as many. Oneness as separation. Love as an absence of love. And even wisdom – the wisdom of receptivity and noticing what we are, as stupidity – the stupidity of rigidly holding onto any ideas including taking ourselves primarily as an object in the world.

The human fascination with the divine

On the other hand, as humans, the divine is fascinated by itself as the divine. It seeks to connect with itself as the divine. It seeks to understand, to be saved, to awaken, and so on.

A mutual fascination

In that sense, we can say there is a mutual fascination between the divine and the human.

And more correctly, it’s all expressions of the divine’s fascination with itself. It’s all the divine exploring itself in always new and different ways, including as us and our experience here and now.

It’s all happening here now

We can take this as how existence is, and it may be although we cannot say for certain.

What we can say with more certainty is that lila – and all of these stories about the divine – mirror what’s here and now. As with any stories about anything, including existence as a whole, they can be used as pointers for what’s here in us and our immediate experience.

What we are is capacity for our experiences – for the world as it appears to us. All our experiences happen within and as what we are.

This capacity, this awake no-thing, shape shifts into whatever experience is here now.

What we are have all the characteristics of the divine. It’s timeless, spaceless, awake, one, love, and full of the world. And our world – including who we are, this human self – happens within and as what we are.

It’s a somewhat artificial division, the distinction between what and who we are. And calling what we are the divine is a stretch for some. And yet, we can find the whole mutual fascination story here.

What we are takes the form of this human self and all the experiences of this human self. In a metaphorical sense, it’s fascinated with this human life.

And this human self, if we are so inclined, is fascinated with the divine. Typically, all the divine characteristics are projected out – onto an image of a God or the divine out there somewhere, in the sky, in nature, in spiritual teachers. And yet, all the characteristics are already here if we only notice.

The mutual fascination story as a pointer

The mutual fascination story has some truth to it, and it also falls apart to some extent when we look a little closer. It depends on artificial divisions and stretched metaphors.

So why did I bother writing about it?

It can be a useful pointer.

We are so used to the human fascination with the divine that we may overlook the reverse fascination. In a very real sense, the divine is fascinated with the human. It’s fascinated with itself in the form of this universe, this living planet, all beings, and you and me and our experience here and now.

The fascination goes both ways.

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Self-indulgent, and also universal?

A rambling post…..

Blogs – including this one – can easily be seen as self-indulgent and self-absorbed, an expression of our individualistic and navel-gazing contemporary culture, and so on. All of that may be true. I often have the thought that this blog is way too self-absorbed.

And yet, if it also is universal – a mirror for what is going on here and for also for others – it may be interesting and even at times helpful.

It also seems that there are two ways of being self-absorbed.

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