K’un, The Receptive: An Epiphany

I don’t so much throw the I Ching anymore as look for a hexagram that resonates. I am an Earth sign, and a female, and it is the start of a new year. It seems appropriate to go to the beginning of the hexagrams to seek wisdom: K’un, the Creative, Hexagram Two.

A Magician Pen and Ink George Hayter
Sir George Hayter. c. 1826

I had many plans for the start of this year. I expected to be in a new home receptive for training my new Doberman Pinscher companion. The political dangers confronting our Republic militate against this.

I find myself receptive to new paths in life. All dreams and goals are on hold as I explore a total life change more total and sweeping than I dreamed a year ago.

I am exploring ways that I can support and participate in the Resistance to the current treasonous efforts overthrow to our institutions that are underway.

The Receptive Complements The Creative

The Creative, Hexagram One, associated with traditional so-called masculine energies, exists not as a duality with the Receptive but as a complementarity.

The Judgment in the Wilhelm translation of the I Ching specifies sublime success follows from guidance.

I, who have lived alone as a mystic and recluse for the past dozen years, am suddenly in the position of believing Resistance can be accomplished only in association with others.  This is a strange turn for what I foresaw as my future only a short time ago — a future I planned for most of last year.

Today also is the Feast of Epiphany. In the Roman Catholic tradition, we did not take down the Christmas tree and creche until this day. According to legend, this is when the Three Wise Men, or three magicians, reached Bethlehem to celebrate the birth of the Christ.

Epiphany and The Receptive

Epiphany is a sudden insight or revelation in common language.

An epiphany is more likely to happen if one is receptive. The Magi were receptive to the guidance of a star that shone brightly in the sky. The undertook a long and perilous journey with their gifts.

Mine usually occur after a long journey of research, meditation, and prayer. They are sudden only to the extent that once guidance blossoms, it is whole, complete, and redoubtable.

I am reading about Moveon.org, the New Jim Crow, the surveillance society, the encroachments of financial institutions into every area of our lives through debt and fees, and many dimensions of political and communication theory I abandoned after my research career was ended.

An epiphany is often only for part of my journey, perhaps only the next step to be taken. Then I must remain receptive to the next step and the one after that.

Best Wishes for Your Healthy and Happy New Year

I wish anyone who read this a happy and healthy year. May you be receptive to your own special guidance, and may your epiphanies show you the way forward.

Solstice: Hexagram 36 Darkening of the Light

The latest crinkle in my total life change Doberman Project is money. One of my required sources of income has been sold, and I’ve not been offered a contract for 2017. So I face a new challenge in this time of waiting and planning.

Looking for guidance from the dao using the I Ching, this dame turns to hexagram 36, Ming I, in the Wilhelm translation, darkening of the light.

Solstice has long been a time of wonder and miracles with customs that go back even before recorded time.

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The Dao of Standstill Is Gratitude

Waiting seems like standstill. It is uncomfortable for this old dame.

I started The Doberman Project eager to press forward with my tlotal Life change.  I was full of concrete plans and an end-of-year deadline to enact them.

Future Is Unknown and Unpredictable

Circumstances beyond my control have intervened in my retirement plans.

Indeed the whole world is waiting to see whether the USA plunges into fascism, or the president-elect sparks a nuclear holocaust, or if the world economy goes into a tailspin as a result of the nativist tendencies sweeping the world.

movie still from All Quiet on Western Front
From film All Quiet on the Western Front.

The antidote to standstill is gratitude.

Gratitude is the antidote for any ill that befalls us. In the smallest pleasures of life we find redemption.

It reminds me of the soldier’s hand stretching from the foxhole for the tiny singing bird in the great film All Quiet on the Western Front (novel by Erich Maria Remarque). This last act of remarking beauty and life becomes his death.

Hexagram 12: Standstill or Stagnation

The 12th hexagram, P’i, in the I Ching is Standstill or Stagnation. The powers of heaven and earth are out of balance and pulling away from each other.

P'i: Standstill or Stagnation

“The way of inferior people is in ascent; . . . But the superior people do not allow themselves to be turned from their principles. If the possibility of exerting influence is close to them, they nevertheless remain faithful to their principles and withdraw into seclusion.”

I have been even more reclusive than usual. Having a Doberman to train and exercise would do me a world of good. An intelligent Doberman Pinscher is a true companion dog, noble, watchful, and protective.

The notion of standstill and stagnation appears repulsive. Yet smelly things transform in stagnation; from compost come the best fruits, vegetables, and flower.

From Stagnation Comes Transformation

P’i, read in its entirety, is a hexagram of hope.

Man in prayer

Line Three states, in the Wilhelm translation, “Inferior people have risen to power illegitimately do not feel equal to the responsibility.”

Fifteen USA security agencies say Russia meddled in the US election that has put this ignorant narcissist into office.

“In their hearts they begin to be ashamed, although at first they do not show it outwardly. This marks a turn for the better.”

The final three lines promise, “First standstill, then good fortune.”

I have a comfortable apartment.  I am in good health.

I mostly enjoy my teaching job and the chance to be with my terrific, hard-w0rking, hopeful students. I can increase my savings for The Doberman Project, retirement, and my total life change.

A few close friends and family are a treasure.  All my needs are met, by the grace of the Dao. I give thanks.

The Dao of Despair and Hope

Rembrandt studio, woman walking to the left
Studio of Rembrandt van Rijn, Beggar Walking to the Left, Rosenwald Collection

The election of a racist, misogynist, narcissist as president has shaken to my core.

Knowing that one half my fellow Americans think it’s okay for a man who shamed a handicapped reporter from the stage to be president earns my contempt for them.

There is no place to run and hide. A wave of far-right narrowly nationalist fervor is sweeping the planet, from India to England.

When I started this blog, I was inspired with a sense of purpose and energy for how to spend my retirement: I would find a home with a yard appropriate for me and a Doberman. I would participate in training to the highest level of excellence possible for the animal and me.

A simple plan for a total life change.

Then, whoosh, despair for the future of our great Republic swamped me — despair that so many people choose to put illusions of self-benefit above civility, the Constitution, compassion, and the law.

One person suggested that I need therapy. I think not.

Swamplands of the Soul: New Life in Dismal Places (Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts)

“The ultimate purpose of psychotherapy is not so much the archaeology exploration of infantile sentiments as it is learning gradually and with much effort to accept your own limits and to carry the weight of suffering on our own shoulders for the rest of our lives. Psychological work, instead of providing liberation from the causes of serious discomfort, increases it, teaching the patient to become adult and, for the first time in [her] life actively face the feeling of being alone with [her] pain and abandoned by the world” in Swamplands of the Soul, Hollis, a Jungian, quoting Carotenuto (The Difficult Art), p. 15.

After a certain age — and a certain age (often posited as post-50) is barely a shadow in the rear view mirror of life — and a certain amount of counseling and spiritual seeking, therapy is only a way of escaping the difficult realization that I am all I have.Oddly, I find these ostensibly cheerless words comforting. I even find a glimmer of hope and renewed purpose in them.

Figure walking, from back, Vuillard
Edouard Vuillard, Walking Figure Seen from Behind, c. 1894, Gift of Benjamin and Lillian Hertzberg

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

TS Eliot, Little Gidding, the last of The Four Quartets (http://www.coldbacon.com/poems/fq.html)

I was greatly influenced by The Quartets, a meditation on time, often as an undergraduate at New York University back in the days when Bob Dylan sightings at local cafes often turned out to be true. I listened to Eliot intone the words in a flat, gravely voice, on the now archaic invention of a long-playing album.

After decades of exploration, I cannot say that I know this place in life — despair — at all. I can say my current despair is a situational adjustment issue, as a therapist would frame it, and not the inner angst of youth that goaded my early consultations of this poem.

Woman working in garden, Pissarro
Camille Pissarro (French, 1830 – 1903 ), Woman Working in a Garden, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection

A Sufi notion suggests sometimes we are in the garden where life pleases us, and sometimes we are in the fire, where we are tested. Both are places where inner lessons may be learned.

TS Eliot reached the same idea in the final lines of The Quartets:

“And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.”

In such stoic acceptance of reality, I find hope.

The Dao of Duration: Hexagram 32

This old dame has been studying the I Ching for a long time — sometimes often, then for years . Some of the principles have seeped into my soul by this long acquaintanceship.

Hexagrams diagrammed, my early notes
Hexagrams diagrammed, my early notes

This is a challenging time in putting my total life change plans into motion, yet not stagnation (Hexagram 12). Lots is going on, like the gentle wind trigram beneath the thunder trigam in the hexgram of duration.

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Fantasy Meets Reality: The Dao of Pushing Through

Four hours, a dozen properties, an intense drive through the neighborhood I favor, and fantasy meets reality. I have arrived at the dao of pushing through.

Staircase with Trophies, NYPL Digital Collection
Staircase with Trophies, NYPL Digital Collection

Goals and dreams are the wellspring of vitality. Without them, a person might as well be dead. It’s important in late life to have another project on the horizon.

The desire that illuminates my quest is having a well-trained, well-bred Doberman Pinscher.

Affordable homes for myself and my faithful companion are, so far, underwhelming. A home can look good when the photograph crops out every undesirable aspect.

One is next-door to a double-wide mobile with a platoon of kiddies’ bikes and a tree house on the property line.

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Dao of House-Hunting under Retrograde Mercury in Virgo

Dao of Endless Portals
Portals and Paths

The dao of house-hunting continues. I will soon start another round of house-hunting. I have been scouting neighborhoods up to this point. Now the quest is sign a contract for a home for me and my Doberman.

Each time I complete one step of this journey, I pass through another of the endless portals toward living my dao.

My excitement is growing.

I have taken this condo apartment as far as I can, unless I spend big money for a new kitchen and bath to make the place sparkle.

Those are not cost-effective investments.

I love the thrill of the chase in finding things to turn my home into a Bohemian fantasy. Enjoying the dao of the journey is more magical and fulfilling than reaching a goal.

Proof: I have a made-to-order sofa and loveseat purchased when I and a life partner were making good money. It wasn’t nearly as much fun as finding quirky resales.  Imagining what I might do in my next home delights my imagination.

Astrology, Synchronicity, and My Dao

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Mess & Metamorphosis: The Dao of Preparation

One of the things I struggle with is keeping my home organized.

Getting ready to move (as part of my retirement planning) has provided a lesson in the dao of preparation for my total life change.

Cotton boll has many transformations
Cotton boll undergoes many transformations in its growth-use cycle.

Moving has been my excuse for letting things pile up. There was no reason to think that packing a mess is easier than packing well-organized possessions; the opposite is true.

Mail on the dining room table has become a pinwheel of papers. Notebooks and receipts, thick envelopes and catalogs swirl in dizzying disorganization.

Closets are easier to keep organized than rooms.

I can label the shelves, baskets, and other organizers. I put clothes where they belong no matter how tired I am, because labels make it easy.

Mail is the biggest time waster.

Some people say to chuck everything you don’t need to read on the spot. I don’t want to read anything on the spot when I get home late.  And I often forget or avoid it later.

As I searched for my phone book beneath the current cache of political ads, needless paperwork from various vendors, and miscellaneous ephemera — I noticed the melange was loosely arranged in three piles from less urgent to most.  Not bad for a subconscious sorting mechanism.

Out of this stew, a total life change is being formed. The caterpillar metamorphoses into a gooey mess before emerging as a butterfly. We often don’t like to think about the deep chthonic stew from which life emerges: ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  Except ashes and dust are euphemisms for the ooze, gunk, and stink that fertilize transformation.

We avert our eyes and our noses; only the brave investigator of the soul confronts such reality. Meditating on life’s inevitable changes — those that may be part of life or retirement planning and those that take us by surprise —

are part of wisdom.

Realizations such as this one are rewarding parts of the journey and confirm that for now this is my dao.

 

Total Life Change: The Dame, The Dog, and the Dao

Total life change is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done.

Change begins with choice.

As young adults, we embrace these choices. It is the first time you can change your world, for many of us, freed from the rules and expectations of others, to the degree we are comfortable unfettering ourselves.

We start our careers, find life partners, move from one city to another, discover new foods, new music, arts, interest, and hobbies, and we may travel and explore the world. It is a great adventure.

By the time we are ready for retirement reinvention, we’ve been knocked about by life. We recognize that the voyage to change your world is not always the idyllic cruise of our youthful imaginings. I am comforted when I feel as if I am following the dao, the right path, for me.

This infographic portrays the three areas of learning as I embrace my total life change.

PlanningInfoGraphic

Home is all about this Dame. I am a Taurus, and my home is my sanctuary.

I spent several months doing online research about where to live, coordinating real estate prices, climate preferences, and kennel club locations. During a drive from North Carolina to South Florida, I did drive-bys of 14 homes in four communities in which I did expanded drive-throughs to check out the neighborhoods.

I could not have accomplished this time-consuming research without a GPS. This was my first experience with one. It was heaven to be freed from maps and pulling over to read them.

I already knew that my budget affords marginal neighborhoods.

This long day of driving narrowed my search down to one area of St. Augustine and resigned me to manufactured housing. Change begins with choice, and making these decisions are necessary toward taking actionable steps.

Now I am educating myself about manufactured housing, including what to look for, whether to buy a used mobile and transport it to my own lot (yes), the differences between cement pads, runners, and pilings (also called footers), utilities hook-ups, and cost of transporting the unit.

An unexpected benefit of this has been two long, nice conversations with my bro who knows a great deal about mobile homes and construction. Our relationship has not always been easy for either of us! I appreciate having his expert advice.

Simultaneously, I have been educating myself about health testing for Doberman Pinschers and updating my knowledge of the great breeding kennels in the US.

I am making slow progress on the dread financial and legal front, a part of my life I have been putting off for decades – so why rush into now as I close in on 70? That’s an ironical aside. Without this part of my plans supporting home and dog, no matter how right it may feel, there can be no dao.

There are days when I consider no longer having my campus job as a touchstone of my reality. My work has been a large and important part of my identity. Not having this income makes total life change seems as fearsome as entering the cave of Daenarys’s dragons.

Mostly, my retirement reinvention is giving me a renewed sense of vibrancy, energy, and life.

How to Follow the Dao to Retirement Reinvention

An old flame called me, and I decided to change my life.  Probably not the way you think.

As I talked with my long-ago lover, I realized I had no photo of him nor any other around my home — just one of the man I have been divorced from for decades and will always love.

But there were two of the great love of my life, L’Ombre the Magic Doberman.

In an epiphany, I remembered promising myself I would train Dobes when I retired. And here I am, on the brink of leaving my profession with only the vaguest of plans of when and what I’d do.

The Dao Demands Change

Yet here was the dao demanding a complete retirement reinvention of my late-life self. Once the moment of insight passed, I realized with a slight hitch in my breath that I’d have to change every part of my life.

Changequote

I have to move from my pet-restricted condo and retire from my local job.

I have to re-educate myself about the breed, because L’Ombre was chosen for me by Roslyn Terhune, an expert.  She helped start the Marine Devil Dog unit in World War II. I have no Roz to make a wise choice for me this time.

I’d have to get my financial affairs in order and face all the other end-of-life details I have put off for decades.

Yet I have an inner knowing of the dao.  It is a force inexorably pulling me forward toward my retirement reinvention. .

The Dao of Retirement Reinvention

This blog is about all the details and life lessons I learn about how to follow the dao to my retirement reinvention. I hope you enjoy the ride.