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Culture Shocks and Creative Blocks
Posted by andrepetr77
13th Feb 2018

I am an Australian Italian living in London. I have done so for the past 8 years and I share my life here with my wife of four years, Nubia, my stepson Filipe and our family friend Felipe. I honestly didn't intend to rhyme that last part, but it tends to be something that happens from time to time and is something that I innately call mine.

After discovering some truths one could easily call uncouth, I set about playing detective (or sleuth). In short this is what I learned: Narcissism, lies, deceit and manipulation. All contributed to the current 'State of the Nation'. Estrangement, anger, confusion beset me. So much so that it landed me back in therapy. It was in the lead up to our trip to Australia that it all began, back in August and September when things did not go according to plan. 40th birthday celebrations with the family - albeit it all being separate, diplomatic and cheery. One knew of the other but none knew of all. And that's how I wanted it - Peace Amen - but that's not all.

Counter transference and transference combined with anxiety, enough to cause friction with my sister and her family. Our safe haven was my cousin and her partner's home for one week. Before long it was time to go home, good Lord - what a trip!

Now, this is the abridged version of what occurred. What I am attempting to illustrate here is the power of creative writing as a means to understanding our thoughts, making sense of our emotions and hopefully also providing us with a solution to them in time. Since time immemorial, myths, legends and stories have been told to assist us in making sense of the world around us - the ancient tribes of yesteryear handed down copious stories about demons, monsters and spirits that walked the earth, and of brave men, women and benevolent gods and warriors who sought their destruction. Christopher Vogler, a screenwriter and film professional in the United States, wrote a modernised version of Joseph Campbell's 'The Hero with a Thousand Faces’. Now, what is unique about this structure (despite the fact that it is used in such acclaimed films as ‘Star Wars’) is that it traces the journey of a character (and we can substitute ourselves here) in the following manner (note – I’d like to invite you at this point to super-impose your own experiences and journey into the following template. It will likely give you a heightened understanding as well as a clearer picture as to how this approach might benefit you):

The Ordinary World: You’re uncomfortable, feeling you no longer fit in with this drab, exhausted place. You may not know it but you’re soon to be chosen to go out and face the unknown, undertaking a journey to restore health and life to the entire home tribe. The one thing that is certain: you will be changed forever. Uneasy and with a thrill running through you, you’re poised to break free.

The Call to Adventure: This can be in the form of a message/messenger, event, a stirring from deep within or even a series of coincidences or accidents (otherwise termed by Carl Jung as ‘Synchronicity’).

Refusal of the Call: This can range from avoidance to excuses, as well as fight or flight and mere survival instincts kicking in – however, persistent refusal can lead to tragedy as we may all have experienced or know...on the other hand, refusing the call, whether initially or otherwise can be prudent – especially if we do not feel ready to embark on it just yet. Forewarned can be forearmed as they say.

Meeting the Mentor: Sources of wisdom come in all shapes and sizes: from books and spiritual beliefs to actual people. The word comes from the character in ‘The Odyssey’ who assisted Odysseus.

Crossing the First Threshold: The first step on the road to our own adventure. Do we accept that job? Go on that first date? Take the plunge and invest in ourselves to start that business by getting that loan? This is a sign of things to come and the point at which we commit (or not) to our personal adventure.

Tests, Allies and Enemies: What it says on the tin! We encounter many obstacles, both seen and unseen, meet people who are allies or enemies and are tested to see if we actually are capable of fulfilling our dreams. On the other hand, the test may also be whether or not we can refuse or resist a common obstacle – much as Christ did when he was tempted by the devil in Scripture.

Approach to the Inmost Cave: This can range from a final goodbye, to a gathering of resources and materials, to re-organise or thin out the group, right through to sharing a last cigarette or drink/meal and arranging a courtship ritual for a (potential) relationship. In short, it is the stage whereby we prepare as much as possible for the main ordeal.
The Ordeal: The secret of this is as follows: ‘The hero must die in order to be reborn’. All heroes face death or something like it – our greatest fears, the failure of an enterprise, the end of a relationship or the death of an old personality. Most of the time we survive this and become reborn – symbolically – to reap the consequences of cheating death.

Reward: After surviving the ordeal, we naturally wish to celebrate! This can take place as many things – a big wedding reception, a formal occasion, celebrating the triumph over a terminal illness or even finding finances and living conditions improve after a long period of drought thanks to being given a job, or even gaining control of or triumphing over a mental illness such as depression.

The Road Back: Victorious, we set off back to our original locale (or place within ourselves where we started) renewed, reinvigorated and with the lessons of past experiences all too prevalent in our minds. Sometimes we need to exercise some further caution in the event that the enemies have not entirely been defeated yet (for example, if we are in remission from cancer, we need to ensure that we have a period of further stability to ensure it does not return). We are often wiser, better prepared and much more insightful as a result of our experiences.

The Resurrection: This can be the integration of a new aspect of an otherwise untapped part of our personalities, a cleansing of sorts, a physical ordeal or choice. Do we forgive that person who was nothing but cruel and callous to us? Do we continue with our pre-conceived course of action or do we revise things in light of what we have learned? As with the seasons, Spring is such a time to re-invigorate ourselves once the long, cold winter months have subsided.

Further to this, Vogler also dedicates a considerable chunk of his book to exploring character archetypes in the tradition of Carl Jung. For instance, instead of the hero adopting mere qualities of candour, virtue and honour, he or she may also be called upon to bring forth characteristics of the shadow/villain in some measure – although not necessarily to the same matching degree. We may be called on to mentor others after passing through our own ordeals, to shift shape into someone unrecognisable to ward off the intimidating tactics of a bully, or even adopting the persona of a herald, whose function it is to issue warnings, information and enlighten the others on the journey as to what is occurring. Aspects of these archetypes are what make us whole, integrated and human. As William Shakespeare also attested: “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances and one man in his time plays many parts”. Sound familiar?

Stay tuned for my next blog! Hope this helps!

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