Sphinx: What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs at night?
Neal Spira: You're looking at him.
While Oedipus gets points deducted for killing his father and marrying his mother, I think he has not received enough credit for successfully answering the riddle of the Sphinx. The trajectory of life is tough to face, especially the downhill march to 3 legs and "game over. I commend Oedipus for his ability to face this truth, and not blinding himself immediately afterwards. Or going internal, like the Buddha.
These maudlin thoughts, I can now confess, are the the thoughts of a man who just turned 60, meaning that I am now somewhere between two and three legs. Following my birthday, I found myself in a contemplative mood, thinking about birth, death and what to say in my next blog entry. This state of mind contributed to a case of blogger's block, as everything I tried to write seemed irrelevant and disconnected from a me that did not want to tell the world about the only thing I really wanted to tell the world, which was that I just turned 60, and I felt old.
It's hard to write if you feel you are not inside what you are writing about, no matter how many good ideas come your way. For example, I had this inspiration for an entry timed with Passover, linked to all that has happened in Egypt this past year. What a great time to write about the psychological meaning of the Exodus, the Egypt of the mind, and the shackles of guilt we place upon ourselves that keep us from being free! ( I even thought about throwing in some teasers about the Sphinx, and Oedipus). So I put my fingers on the keyboard....and poof, it all went up in smoke. Who cares? I just turned 60 and next stop is 3 legs- but how could I tell you that when I couldn't admit my self preoccupation to myself? I was ashamed at the disparity between my ideal view of myself (age gracefully) and the reality (how can I turn back the clock? How can I be such a baby!) I needed a place to hide. Blogger's block.
Sphinx: If you were blog blocked, where did this entry come from?
Neal Spira: It's Spring, the time of Rebirth
This morning, at 11AM, Spring arrived in Chicago. Not chronological Spring, but, finally, after endless winter, the genuine article, bringing warmth and sunshine, birds and buds. Spring, the season of birth and rebirth, new life and renewal. I went for a run, and I ran right into her. I couldn't keep from smiling upon renewing our acquaintance, in love with her and with the world. And having found her, I also found my lost self, the one closer to 6 than 60, who had run away in the waning hours of age 59. The self that writes the blog.
We live in time, and time is a one way street. Some steps-like certain birthdays- make us acutely aware of this fact, the riddle of the Sphinx. But other steps have the potential to bring us somewhere else. I went for a run and found...my beautiful mother, who greeted me with a smile when I first arrived in this world, and returns to me every Spring, from her home in my timeless unconscious. Of course, there are other mothers- the mother who didn't pay attention, the mother who frustrated me, the mother who didn't understand me, the mother who broke my heart, and the mother whose heart I broke, the mother I hated and the mother who hated me. But these are mothers for other seasons, who will surely make their presence known in all kinds of mysterious ways, if past experience is any guide.
D.W. Winnicott, the late British psychoanalyst and pediatrician, is frequently quoted for his statement "There is no such thing as a baby"- meaning that babies simply cannot exist without the mothers upon whom they depend for life, and that baby and mother form an inseparable unit. Perhaps I might also say that there is no such thing as an individual birthday, since birth is a two party process, despite the priority we give to the younger member of the pair when it comes to celebration. And maybe that is why birthdays are so complicated. So running into my Springtime mother- that's the birthday I wanted. And thus recreated, I could create.