Saturday, 16 January 2010

The Gift

I'm still deep in deadline management (see last post), but can't resist this quotation, courtesy of the always interesting Diet Iced Me.

“ …The task of setting free one’s gifts was a recognized labor in the ancient world. The Romans called a person’s tutelar spirit his (sic) genius. In Greece it was called a daemon … "

"In Rome it was the custom on one’s birthday to offer a sacrifice to one’s own genius.  People didn’t just receive gifts on their birthday, but would also give something to their guiding spirit. Respected in this way the genius made one “genial”: sexually potent, artistically creative, and spiritually fertile…"  

"An abiding sense of gratitude moves a person to labor in the service of his or her daemon. The opposite is properly called narcissism. The narcissist feels his or her gifts come from himself/ herself. They work to display themselves, not to suffer change... The celebrity trades on his or her gifts, and does not sacrifice to them."

"And without that sacrifice, without the return gift, the spirit cannot be set free."

adapted from “The Gift” by Lewis Hyde 1983

I've changed some of the nouns and pronouns to remove any implication that it is only men who have creative genius. Seems that's what they thought way back in 1983.  I made about 10 changes, and left one.  Anyway, it's still a great passage about self-respect and creativity.

Now I'm an Aries, so its not my birthday today, but I don't think we need wait for birthdays.  I find it's fun to dish out gifts to my inner genius on a daily basis, in fact even more frequently.  A walk?  Some journaling?  A little bit of chocolate?  A few moments staring into the middle distance (one of her favourites)?  a stretch?

I am also grateful to Diet Iced Me for reminding me of Kafka:  "the purpose of a story (a book, surely?) is to be an axe for breaking up the ice (frozen sea) within us", or something like that.  It's quite a free translation, but all the better for that, perhaps.

I prefer "frozen sea" to "ice" - deeper and fuller of mystery, but I prefer "story" to "book".  Storytelling has a lot of power for inner healing and growth, more than books themselves, I would say, in general, with some exceptions.

And talking about Kafka .....

Kafka, By Rue Meurt d'Art, StreetArt, Paris, France
Originally uploaded by balavenise

It's difficult to read what Kafka's saying here, especially if you don't speak French.  It says: "A person is not created from bottom to top but from the interior to the exterior." Or something like that.  Its by an entity called "Street of the Death of Art". Not that Kafka actually ever wrote that gobbledygook, but its a nice piece of street art.  Intellect in the midst of decay. Very kafkaesque.

I like Kafka actually, despite my (delightfully? nauseatingly?) bright and sunny take on life.  As I have said elsewhere, positive thinking is my default mode.  Thats how I deal with decay and decadence

And if you pay attention to your inner genius, as Lewis Hyde suggests, it tends to bring out the positive side.  I mean I wouldn't have used Kafka's notion of and "axe", or even a "frozen sea" because that's not how it feels to me, but the message is pretty positive - break down inner barriers.  

And there's nothing like a gift to yourself for breaking down barriers: depending on the barrier of course. Sometimes only an axe will do.

You may also enjoy:

Happiness:  The "Cruise" part of Financial Cruise Control

Food Group Dilemmas

And, for story-telling

What can we do about Berlusconi-think?

1 comment:

  1. Hey Sarah - great you're back!

    I wonder if the book you're talking about has a different name in North America? My friend told me last night about a book by the same author called "Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined". Must be the same one. Thanks for flagging it - I've ordered it from the library.

    Keep blogging please. Deadlines schmedlines!