I am thinking today about the phrase, “cut and run”. When I looked it up in the dictionary, I discovered that some believe that it has a nautical origin. They say it refers to the time of sailing ships and the need to escape from something quickly. Instead of raising the anchor, the captain would order a sailor to cut the rope to the anchor and head for open water as fast as possible! So the phrase refers to leaving some danger or work unfinished because you imagined a negative result.
I am pondering if this is true for me. I know my mother thought this of me. This came to light in the time I cared for her at the end of life. She was slipping into dementia and sometimes she forgot that I was her son—I was a friend who came to visit her. So one night I asked her about her son, Ray. She said, “Oh, he was good boy, but he never finished things!”
I understood her viewpoint—she was referring to the fact that I graduated from seminary, but did not become a Presbyterian minister. I cannot remember if I defended “Ray” by saying that he did start a business as a storyteller and he earned a living for forty years. Nevertheless I understood my mother’s point, and I think there is further evidence to support her argument.
Through those forty years of storytelling, I have connected with various institutions, but never developed a lasting relationship with any of them. Early in my career I worked for the State Museum of New Jersey, but left because I saw a brighter future as an independent presenter of school assembly programs. Ten years ago I worked for an organization called, “Once Upon A Nation” in the historic area of Philadelphia. I left that organization because they wanted control over my creative work. And most recently, my relationship with the Mercer Museum has started to unravel because they do not support my idea of “ensemble storytelling”.
There are probably more relationships with institutions in my work history that fit this pattern of behavior. I bring this up as a subject for thought not because I harbor anger or negative feeling against these institutions. Rather it is of interest because understanding this pattern of my life is important for my individuation process. Grandfather Jung perhaps offers some wisdom on the subject in the last chapter of Memories, Dreams, Reflections: “I have had much trouble getting along with my ideas. There was daimon in me, and in the end its presence proved decisive. It overpowered me, and if I was at times ruthless it was because I was in the grip of the daimon. I could never stop at anything once attained. I had to hasten on, to catch up with my vision. Since my contemporaries, understandably, could not perceive my vision, they saw only a fool rushing ahead.”
I will not compare my life to the life of my spiritual grandfather, but we all do, at times, have to shake the dust from our sandals and move on. This is part of the dance with our daimon—daimon story shared, May 30, 2011 blog—and our attempt to live with the creative energy that feeds the soul.
So let’s go back to the question about the “cut and run kid”. I am not going to claim that appellation. The changes of direction in my life may have at times happened rather abruptly—and my mother did think me a fool for not becoming a Presbyterian minister—but there were no negative results from that decision. I became what I needed to be, not what others wanted me to be.
Grandfather Jung calls it being in the “grip of the daimon”; I like to think of it more as a dance with the daimon. We do make missteps in the dance—and I have made my share of them—but the results are always positive when we are willing to engage in the dance again, and again, and again……