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Reflections on Rage: Making Room in My Circle for "The Man in the Swamp"

Aug 17, 2007
Paula Underwood, my Iroquois teacher, was fond of saying, "The amount of conflict you can incorporate into your circle is directly proportional to the amount of peace you will feel."

Here's some conflict I've let into my circle recently... I read this press release from Citizen Watch and I was so angry over what I perceived as "green washing" that I could punch my hand through a wall.

I mean, what does Eli Manning have to do with eco friendly consciousness or social responsibility? He's so rich when so many people in the world are so poor. Feeling mighty righteous, I wrote this text:
"You could hire Eli Manning. You can hire my green penis and pay it a million dollars to endorse your next "eco-watch." Listen, my green penis is just as relevant. As far as I am concerned, it can pass, kick and score field goals. No- it is more relevant. I have no children- over population is one of the critical issues for a sustainable future. My green penis would be a better endorsement... if it were for sale, which, I say for all

Madison Ave... Alas, my good Sirs... it is not!"

Not really appropriate for someone blogging in support of social responsibility in the jewelry industry. Those adult businessmen who see me in their suits and ties at trade shows would react unfavorably to such a rant. My green penis does not wear a tie. Discretion became the better part of valor.

I have had a meditation practice for over twenty-five years. Pictures of my teachers on my altar stare at me every morning when I sit. Clearly, this is not an "enlightened" perspective. But is that level of cynical, embittered rage a sign of weakness?

The answer to this question gets to the heart of eastern practices versus the indigenous approaches that my Native American teachers have taught me.
Certainly, cynicism is fragmenting. Anyone can dismiss or at the very least, marginalize an attack. Imus, Stern and Rush will always have their limited demographic support for their toxic spew.

What is created over a thousand years can be destroyed in a few seconds. It is harder to actually build something and be life giving.

Yet the first step in working with circle is to give what is in your circle a right to exist. In this case, I am talking about my internal circle of characters. I am not one who has faith in an internal - or external for that matter - monotheism. I pay attention to the archetypal nature of my dreams. There are many characters within.

Working with circle wisdom means honoring the internal characters. This character who wrote the above passage I call the man at the 'bottom of the swamp' and he holds one of the critical anchors to my creative process.

He is not some sensitive new age guy down there. He is rooted in cathartic, earth-based perspectives. I have a lifeline down to him. His bullshit meter is hyper sensitive and he can be outrageous. I take him elk hunting, along with my mountain lion.

Alliances with one's darker side give insight and power. For me, this means fleshing out and even dialogging with that part of oneself. Ultimately, one gives it a job that it enjoys. He enjoyed writing about our green penis.

The swamp man's job is to wake me up from the consensus trance. The next task is to use him as an alliance and then walking around the circle to hear all the voices. I gather all the wisdom I have to channel that energy into dialogue, taking us deeper, I go into the center of my world, the place of deepest humanity, and see the whole picture.

Anger and rage is tied to grief and grief is tied to pain, and pain tied to the universally tragic condition of living on earth as a human being. We are all one circle.

I think, as a writer, the more conscious we are of all voices in our internal circle, the more power we have. Character and insight depends upon empathy, and empathy starts with oneself.

Just because I wrote an attack doesn't mean I have to use it. Just because I am angry does not mean I have to put my hand through a wall. Besides, I live in an adobe house and there would not be much left of my hand.

Though I do not agree with Citizen's method, there's benefit. Even I have taken one angle and emphasized disproportionately in marketing my product.

This place of acceptance, like forgiveness, or love, is a process. It is hard to do because it is easier to feel outrage and self righteous than it is to go deep into one's own heart and find the universal in one's micro experience.

During extended meditation retreats I have come to really understand completely that what is outside me in the world is really inside me, in my heart and mind. All my life experience points toward one truth: the universe is a giant mirror.

I do not live enough in this wisdom. I can bitch and blame others just as well as the next guy. The recognition that we are all part of one circle, is a journey.

Inside of us there are many circles. There are many altars. There are many gods. Let us honor them all, and not make the mistake that Carl Jung warned us about when he said, "The gods have become diseases."

My goal with my writing is to take the reader into the heart of our human experience as much as I possibly can. I want to give them no way out except through the understanding that we are all connected.
About the Author
Marc Choyt is President of Reflective Images, www.celticjewelry.com, a jewelry company that practices socially responsible business.Marc authors www.fairjewelry.org a movement website for consumers and jewelers supporting green and fair trade jewelry. He also originated The Circle Manifesto,
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