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Humanistic Hummings

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Seeking the rhythm within untold stories ... hummings from a psychological Being.

Author, Dwight Tolliver, Ph.D.
tollyphd@gmail.com


 

When October Goes

“When October Goes” was a song performed by Barry Manilow in 1984. Yet, my introduction to the song manifested through the beautiful voice of Nancy Wilson, who was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, and graduated from West High School in Columbus, Ohio. More impressively, Nancy’s singing career lasted over 50 years. The melody and lyrics of “When October Goes” depict the sinking feeling associated with November. The entirety of the song expresses the deep, aching Pain associated with Loss and Sadness.

Psychologically and emotionally, October seems to be the most chaotic month of the year. In last month’s blog, I tried to capture the erratic and up/down aspects of October through the discussion on the internal and external forces “pulling” us in different directions. As a consequence of the cortisol- and adrenaline-rich month of October, human beings seem to shift in November. Sadness sets in as the days begin to darken more firmly and temperatures become colder in a more predictable, certain way.

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Sadness is the most uncomfortable and painful emotional energy human beings face in our journeys through Life. Subjectively, Sadness (Loss) is the cost of doing business with Love. One of my humanistic teachers, Carl Jung, stated “Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come, along with patience and equanimity.”

Personally, this October brought its typical array of Beauty and Pain AND Surprise and Loss. Over the years, I’ve learned to acknowledge and release the necessary losses discovered following the turbulence of October. For example, a couple of years ago; I realized I’m not a persuasive person as I failed miserably at trying to build a bridge between a dear friend of mine. I tried too hard to make it work; I tried to persuade too much. He shut the door on our relationship… forever. Being persuasive isn’t in me. Persuasion requires too much force.

Yet, each human being carries the capacity to influence. That November, I sought a fuller knowing of the influencing part of me. I let go of trying to influence through persuasion. Instead, I became more stable and secure in my way to influence, which is through the process of understanding human beings’ movements through the world as deeply and compassionately as possible. In the spirit of Jung, I focused on internal growth… patience and equanimity.

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This November, the struggle to remain patient is real. At the beginning of October, talented scientists from all areas of the world released an Environmental report detailing the realities associated with Earth’s warming skies. It’s happening. It’s real. There are real consequences waiting for us in the future. Which is a not-so-distant future at this point. The long-term is merging with the short-term. It’s happening. It’s real. Stated simply, my sadness rests in the reality that we stopped talking about the report a day or so after it was released. Another short-term story, event, problem, crisis, opinion, etc. consumed human beings into the complacency of oblivion. Sadly, human beings lose sight of the ‘Big Picture’ easily and conveniently.

Speaking of the ‘Big Picture,’ human beings don’t have the capacity to save planet Earth. In all sincerity, planet Earth will survive for a long time. There are projections detailing the reality of Earth remaining a stable rock in the Universe for 350,000 years, at minimum. The Universe will eradicate planet Earth, not human beings. Instead, Earth will eradicate human beings and mend the violent brakes, bruises, and incisions we’ve forced onto its amazing and inspiring Beauty.  

Human beings’ consumption into short-term rewards and wants precludes the long-term companion of Sadness to influence us daily and stay with us when we feel weak or insecure. In October, I have more compassion for losing sight of the ‘Big Picture.’ November is a different story. It’s not as chaotic as October. Yet, we must develop and nurture our relationship with Sadness in order to reap the rewards November offers. In the spirit of Jung, the emotional energy of sadness can be a stabilizing force for human beings even though the experience of Loss is uncomfortable in an indescribable way. In sadness, the clarity of helplessness emerges as an undeniable truth. Acknowledging helplessness requires the understanding and surrender to the reality that there will be aspects of Life outside of our control… always. Similar to my dear friend, human beings and human-made systems will shut their doors on each of us.

“When October Goes” expresses the necessary losses associated with the unavoidable aging process, AND the unnecessary losses related to the inescapable reality of Loss. Yet, human being’s treatment of planet Earth is the antipode of unavoidability or inevitability. We’ve scorched our skies unnecessarily and are producing a premature eradication of the human species. We’ve waited on systems to fix real problems and depended on leaders to remain focused on the ‘Big Picture.’  Neither systems nor leaders have allowed patience and equanimity to be its primary energy source.

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For the Matrix Trilogy fans, human beings scorched the skies in a desperate attempt to take away the energy source (i.e., Sun) upon which the Machines (a.k.a., artificial intelligence) depended.


Patience and equanimity are possibilities, leading to sustainability just as Nancy Wilson’s singing career lasted 50+ years. Each offers a way to surrender to helplessness without becoming powerless, entitled, jaded, and/or complacent. Each focuses on internal growth. Each knows how to let go of short-term battles that weaken us. Patience reflects on instability, receives multiple perspectives, and offers a ladder into cooperation (not compromise, which is a bridge built by entitlement and complacency). Equanimity balances passion with sustainability, reconciling the urgency of short-term wants with the wisdom of long-term survival.

The struggle to remain patient is real this November. I’m continuing to persist and endure in the face of helplessness. This blog is insignificant and, most likely, helpless in the movement toward influencing others to focus on internal growth and cooperating with Earth responsibly. Yet, I’m helpless not to share as well. I’m helpless not to sense the need for human beings to focus on internal growth. I’m helpless not to lose sight of the ‘Big Picture.’



I’m helpless…


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Despite helplessness, I’m grateful for the song “When October Goes.” The song offered me a greater knowing of sadness, loss, patience, and equanimity. The song extended a reason to embrace “the cold November rain.”

I see a truth. Earth is neutral to whether human beings survive. For sure, it offers abundance and rewards. Yet, if we treat it irresponsibly; it will deplete its offerings. I care about our planet because I’m selfish. I don’t want our planet to punish us into oblivion. I want the human species to survive. Selfishly, I want the option, if fortunate enough, to live to be 100. I’ll have a grandchild who’s my age currently when I’m 100. I want him to experience Earth’s offerings, Sadness in November, and the beautiful voice of Nancy Wilson.

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Dwight Tolliver, Ph.D.