Monday, August 15, 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Today, dear readers - I am quite thrilled/honored to discover 2 new followers - I felt a need to look around and get my bearings.  We've just had a 'benchmark' event in our family - my "dear and glorious" Emergency Medicine Physician of 36 years officially retired from 'active' daily practice yesterday.  The kids and grand peeps who are local had a festive celebratory dinner for him at the end of the day.  I was not able to attend because of a particularly difficult time with post-operative, chronic back and arm pain but ofttimes it is wiser, I have learned, to sit still, not risking further exacerbation.  And certainly my heart was with them.
     (Also, the self-imposed quietude provided an opportunity to think about VERY dear ones who are celebrating birthdays this month.  My mother's is today, my DEAREST, OLDEST friend from high school days is marking another amazing year and - not that this last in any way leans toward preference/partiality - we, as Catholics, celebrate what is known in religious parlance as "The Feast of the Immaculate Conception" or the day on which Mary was chosen to be the earthly Mother of Christ.  No Mary, no protagonist so hers is a unique Motherhood.)
     In addition to birthdays, my thoughts went to writing - big surprise, you say.  Well, as our lives follow the serpentine path particular to each individual, I believe - and, if you've really been following - I've not infrequently alluded to my study/admiration of the psychiatrist C. G. Jung.  It's rather a things-happen-for-a-reason type of 'being in the world' and - especially in the clarity of hindsight - perhaps the ONLY remaining sight with a modicum of proficiency at my age, an age that makes 'dirt' appear infantile - and I re-read things I've said for their value - positive and negative. 
     Perhaps a BRIEF perspective on my recording of life experiences as they seem to get prodded along by Jungian notions is in order.  It serves to introduce some new players/ideas and, who knows, may either be helpful OR fall into the wanting to "eat-those-words" column.  When I was doing lots of medical/technical writing, I came to know Drs. Howard & Georgianna Jones, founders of the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Norfolk.  Dr. Howard, in one of his tutorial interviews, once said, "It is true that when we recognize principles operating in nature, we realize they are beautiful and can't be any other way."  His English professor was Robert Frost - color ME green - who once told Howard that in poems, you wrote so that the reader couldn't predict what would come next, but when that reader came across the word, he realized it was the only word that could possibly be there.
     Dr. Howard had come to feel that nature was kind of like that.  When you figure out what is going on, upon mature consideration - almost dashed THIS listener's enthusiasm for experiencing the prospect - you discover that that is the only way it could be.
Naturally I pondered this pearl and, as is my wont, turned to my more comfortable analytic methodology, ie, what-would-Jung-think-about-this?  Jung had devoted his life to the operating

    
principles of the human psyche, if you will and concluded that part of what we are is conscious and part unconscious, that is, not immediately known to us as being 'of us.'   The stratum closest to the conscious mind he called the personal unconscious; the boundless, elusive forces behind are known as the collective unconscious.  We are influenced, indeed at times compelled, to act or be a certain way by these personal and universal forces.  By the time we present these forces to reality, they have a particular, identifiable force. Our conscious mind or ego has shaped them.  In the amorphous, timeless, mercurial realm of the unconscious, these forces are formless, universal symbols which Dr. Jung called archetypes.  They conjure up images which apply to any given epoch using the language and reference frame of that time.  Jung proved their intransient repetitiveness in his study of dreams, fairy tales and folklore.  They are with us, have the power to stir and alter us.
     This being the case, one necessarily finds them in literature.  If the written word attempts to reflect the human condition, its archetypal nature should be one of its ongoing principles.  I do not analyze my writing - and aren't WE all breathing a sigh of relief re: turning THIS page, if you're not raiding the fridge waiting for her to "get on with it!" - but I DO write so that the writer can't predict what will come next.  And am obviously a prisoner of the 'let's-point-out-the-obvious' coven.  BUT.  The completed work has meaning for me - did she say "completed"?; so this DOES end? - has achieved a goal, responded to an emotional need.  The message is there - for the most part personal, but should it have application BEYOND the personal, can touch the "not me", then there could be something in it for the reader as well and THAT is a true 'Nirvana' experience for this ole penner.
     The archetypes that parade through and energize my words, give them nuance beyond MY conscious intent.  So, as you read these slices of my existence, you are invited to to read the works and just let them speak without accompaniment.  Just keep in mind that this writer, in that she cannot predict what will come next, has not been commissioned to 'create any archetype's content' or current essence and present it as 'literature'.  Writing is like that. "When you figure out what is going on, upon mature consideration, you discover that that is the only way it could be."
     (NOW back to birthdays.  Hats on?  Party mood warmin' up?  I decided to start with Mom - where I started before.  Julia Jeanne Scicutella was born in Manhattan if immigrant parents from Bari, Italy.  She was unfortunate to be greeted by the polio epidemic and, as if to stamp her passport and future "temporary" US citizen, her young mother suffered from a cardiac malady requiring her father to re-turn the infant girl and older brother, Paul, to Bari where it was hoped the clean, fresh air would be less of a burden on her condition.  This was not to be the case and Antoinette, at age thirty-three, died of what seems to have been rheumatic heart failure leaving behind her two precious children and husband Leo, an olive grove laborer.  Antoinette's mother did her best to care for her grandchild but it wasn't too long before Leo was courting again.
     Of course money was scarce - as was time for a lame daughter - but Julia soon established her place, helping where she could and always, always visiting her mother's mausoleum - shared with five school teachers each of whom were apparently loved/missed deeply by their devoted students.  More to the point, the students - also frequent visitors - had the means/inclination to shower their departed instructors with heartfelt prayers and MANY, LARGE votive candles.  Mom would often speak to me of the importance of sharing.  By way of example, she'd fondly recall placing what, in her mind was an over-doing of votive-candle-bringing, one or two now SHARED votive lights by her mother's encased oval photo as she knelt to pray.
     It wasn't long before the home scape changed irrevocably.  Leo married Angelina and they had Michael.  Oh! such crowded quarters for an infant.  So, in that Angelina's 'people' had a Bishop in their clan, it was arranged for Julia, becoming more lame/burdensome, to move in with the good Sisters at several local convents.  And the groves thrived, as did Paul and Mikey, and just when the oil was flowing with enough volume and return on the sweat beads, Angelina suggested a FRESH start, in the New Country - and they whisked the family off trans-Atlantic, to the Island - Ellis.  I believe we've been on this trip before.  Third class, Enrico Caruso on the same ship to begin a USA tour and Julia - lame, head shaved (lice, you know), babushka'd and actually believing the story Leo fed her about the "miracle" of pulleys in Brooklyn - you just have to push the line and the clothes move across with ease to a tall pole on the other side.  Beside herself with laundering expectations and dreams of opportunity, it was with enormous love and gratitude that she recalled Mr. Caruso coming DOWN to third class every night of the crossing to perform.
     They settled in a Polish neighborhood, Julia was speaking Polish and English flawlessly within six months and the real miracle - an interested orthopaedic surgeon at Long Island College Hospital - performed ground-breaking surgery that severed the polio-shortened tendon in her heel allowing her to walk with but a slight limp.  After that, she worked, met and married - selecting my Dad from an army - literally - of beaux, and raised and educated a son and daughter with him.  To this day, she is the most beautiful and strongest woman I have ever known.  I salute you, Mom, and love you.  I cannot sing "The Song Caruso Sang" but if you listen, my readers and I are belting out a "Happy Birthday To You.")
     Don't know about you, but , as usual, she did me in.  So, on the morrow, I shall continue.  More B-Day greetings, pitch around a few archetypes - and "bad" angels and maybe throw in a coup la Jungian saws.  Hope you'll join me.  Later, Lorane
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