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November 11, 2015
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November 25, 2015

‘Changing Minds, Saving Lives’ – Psychonalaytic Insights: The Dance of Life

By Pamela Nathan

‘Changing minds, saving lives’ – Psychoanalytic Insights is a series designed to introduce psychoanalysis, by taking simple gems from the psychoanalytic dreamtime that may become tools for living. I draw on stories from the consulting room, from friends and from my own life and fictionalise them, with some poetic licence.

The Story: the dance of life

The page is blank.  Where does one start to make sense of a life?  Is there a beginning and an end? Are there multiple interconnections, seemingly disconnected, which in the fullness of time connect to form a story? A whole, of many parts, which if visually portrayed, could look like a collage or a Jackson Pollock painting of pure form and no image, pure paint – the essence and without artifice.

All the dots in a 3D picture form a photograph, like in the Sunday Age which is full of millions of dots.  If one looks long and hard, the image, the pattern, the form, emerges in sudden relief and

the reader cries out in amazement: “I can see!”  But in a second, the image falls away the moment one takes one’s eye off the dots, the page, and recedes with the sea waves.  There are just dots again.  No pattern.  Nothing coherent.  A sea of dots. A coat of many colours.

There is no plot to this story.  Life has its own drama.  A drama unsurpassed.  The ordinary reveals itself and in the ordinary there is the civilised, the known and the pedestrian.  But don’t be fooled.  It is not linear and boring and commonplace.  Rest assured, there is the primitive, the unknown, beauty and the exceptional.  One can travel the internal world and see all sorts of landscape, from the desert to Mt Everest and to the ocean, oases, caves, ruins, burial sites and even castles and become an archaeologist and traveller of life.

One can walk the tight rope and balance at times precariously and at times with certainty, on the edge, albeit plotted against unknowingly by gangs in the mind by guilt and by shame and also moved and changed by joy, love, beauty, dreams and inner underworlds.

Ultimately, a good-enough life is an ordinary life, once a bit like a citadel, apparently protective, albeit surprisingly deceptive, whereby the supposedly bad is at best good and at worst inept, and now a bit like an old friend, knowable, familiar and reliable. Having said that, a good-enough life is also one of discovery, aliveness and transformation. And then. too, excruciating losses can surprise, sever and scar but the souls live on deep inside the ancestral veins.

Zorba the Greek said everyone needs a little madness and everyone needs to live with a fire in the belly and to know why one dies. “Teach me to dance”, slowly it begins, pulsating until it reaches a feverish crescendo enlivening dance into endless space turning, spinning and leaping and then standing still, to hold and find the beat within and then the rhythm of life resumes its dance.

You can have your blank page and dancing story too.

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