Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Journal of a Soul 2

Intense was the word that a good friend used to describe me when I was in my early twenties.  He added that he meant absolutely no criticism by that description.  Nor indeed did I take it as such.  And other synonyms for intense are passionate, powerful, profound, forceful, heartfelt and concentrated.  I'd still accept any of those adjectives as descriptive of my way of being in the world.

Having recently read much philosophy from the early Greeks right through to the contemporary Charles Taylor I am still enthused with a passion for wonder, with a desire to embrace life in its fullest measure.  From my readings in philosophy and literature I find a singular lack of intensity and passion in the world in general. That's why we need our religions (in the spiritual manifestation, not in the power manifestation, of those entities, I hasten to add is what I have in mind here), our theatres, our cinemas, our traditions and our literatures, and especially our music.

In the psalms we read that  "Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me." (Psalm 42:7; New American Standard Bible, 1995)  I remember these words clearly since the time I was a young novice in the Augustinian Order many years ago.  Deep calling onto deep always moved me to the very foundations of my being.  A I sat there in the early mornings in the cool and incense-laden oratory, season in and season out, I remember touching depths within me that I certainly had never plumbed before.  Some past pupils who, with their dad, are expert potholers come to mind.  What is it in the human heart that wishes to push its being deeper and ever deeper.  These past pupils are now doing just that, and doing it physically, literally crawling on their bellies down and further down and further down still into the bowels of the very earth.  As I sat there all those years ago I felt that I was spiritually doing what these lads do physically, except that I was crawling down, down, down into the caverns of the heart, or of the soul, or of the spirit, or indeed of the Self.  And yes, I am using all these words here synonymously even though I am aware that there are differences between their connotations in various areas of study.  But for my personal purposes here they refer to my deep sense of my own being. 

And so, in short I am moved to new depths always.  I rejoice that as I age I am able to go deeper and am able to bear more pressure.  It's rather like diving deeper, as the deeper you get the more the water presses down on you.  And so, again, as I sit here listening to the haunting voice of the great Canadian singer Neil Young singing Old Man and my eyes are filled with tears as he brings me deeper with his words:

Old man look at my life,
I'm a lot like you were.
Old man look at my life,
I'm a lot like you were.
Old man look at my life,
Twenty four
and there's so much more
Live alone in a paradise
That makes me think of two.

Or again listening to the late great and wonderful Irish Folk singer Liam Clancy weaves the same wondrous effect on my soul. Try listening to his rendition of Those Were The Days on YouTube here:

Or again listen to the late great Jacques Brel singing his powerful rendition of Amsterdam which you can view hereunder:

Or again, I dove much deeper still when viewing Des Bishop's tribute to his late father Mike, RIP, in tonight's documentary on RTE 2.  You can view this in three parts on YouTube here:

And so all of these things serve to carry me deeper and deeper into self.  Whatever Self may be it is to be found only by pushing oneself to the limit.  Des Bishop, Jacques Brel and Liam Clancy all push themselves to the limit because the self is a reality of the limits and of the horizons.  Again many other metaphors can come to mind here.  The Self is a reality of the extremes, that's why the human soul is wont to go on pilgrimage.  Look at all those great mountaineers who seek to climb the highest mountains.  Bring to mind all those explorers of yesteryear who sought out the very limits of the world.  Think of those astronauts who seek to explore the wonder of space.  Call to mind the English Captain Robert Falcon Scott and the Norwegian Roald Amundsen, explorers of polar regions both.  Nothing but the pursuit of self, the pursuit of identity could carry them up to and beyond the threshold or portal of death. 

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