Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Two Things, Pathologizing and Mythologizing

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

This morning as I got Sophie ready for school, and the usual happened, I thought that I cannot write about any of this -- again. I thought that I am beginning to sound like the broken record that plays a seizure soundtrack. I thought that even my post about my newest health insurance and anti-epileptic medication woes is repetitive, incredibly repetitive except for the number of photos that depict me as tired, so tired, with seemingly fat fingers. I haven't included many photos of myself in posts, and when I look at these I see the toll, the toll. 

I thought that you could probably troll through the more than two thousand posts that I've written over the past four years and find only three or so topics that I've written about, maybe even two. As I pulled away from Sophie's school, I watched as one of the aides, a wonderful man in a straw hat, bent over Sophie and gently spoke with her and I felt overcome. Tears pricked my eyes and they were not just from the seemingly endless depths of sadness but also ones of gratitude, that people like this exist, that they help to make my daughter's life a good one. I wasn't going to write about this, though, another track on the endless loop.

 But then I got home and read Lisa's comment about the significance of the red dragon in Taoist philosophy. Here it is on my recent Dragon Mom post:

At the risk of sounding like a complete wacko, just wanted to share some of my latest discoveries with you since they seem to have an interesting relevence to your experience. 
The Tao is a Chinese philosophy (not the religion) that discusses the principles of yin and yang energy. These are opposing life energies that rely on one another to define themselves. 
The Yin is sometimes represented as a green dragon, it is the inactive, intuitive, female energy (or perhaps mermaid-like?) The Yang energy is sometimes represented by a red dragon. It is the active, action-based, masculine energy that is necessary to balance the Yin.
A dragon swallowing its tale is an image used to represent the Yin Yang philosophy of the continuous cycles of life. 
The red dragon is also used sometimes to represent Sheng Qi a type of inner energy that Taoists use to fight disease and promote long life. Just thought this reading and symbolism had an interesting connection to your dragon vision..for whatever it is worth...wishing you and Sophie much peace always.

I am very familiar with Taoist principles and philosophy having studied it quite a bit in my college years, but I had never heard about the significance of the red dragon. When I had that vision of myself as a fuming dragon, sitting on the side of Sophie's bed as she seized and began to write about it, I thought, too, of the inimitable art of William Blake, the great nineteenth century poet, and I remembered that somewhere in his vast archive there was a painting of a woman and a dragon, and sure enough there it was: The Great Red Dragon and Woman Clothed by the Sun. Lisa's comment, read at just the right moment, reminded me again of the great power of synchronicity, that, perhaps, there are no coincidences. I am just swallowing my tail, at times, living over and over my life, but I am also red with fire, fighting this godawful disease and helping Sophie to live a better, longer life.

After reading Lisa's comment, I read Verna Wilder's:

I am always so moved by your posts, and when you use Blake's images, I know I'm in for a powerful experience. I love what Lisa shared about the Tao and dragon energy. I heard Jean Houston speak once about mythologizing our lives instead of pathologizing our lives. You mythologize, you and your mermaid daughter and the deep poetry in your heart, your dear dragon heart. You show us how it's done, and your words tear me apart and put me back together again. I appreciate you more than I can say.

Mythologizing is nearly effortless for me, and I had always thought it made me more wack-a-doodle than healthy. I'm going to think otherwise, now, even on this day of seizures and tears and gentle, bent-over heads and whispering, kind words.

I don't have more to say but would, rather, put my hands together in a prayer-like pose and bow my head to you, Lisa, and to you, Verna and to all of you.

To you.


  1. And to you, dragon woman warrior.

  2. My goodness. I am so glad you write, so grateful for your myth-making, which helps me mythologize my own life and fills my brain with luscious imagery. A dragon eye appeared in my own writing today, and no wonder. I just love this post, the advice on the Tao, mermaid Sophie, your wisdom. All of it.

  3. You have some truly beautiful people here in this world. Virtual and otherwise. that love you and your daughter.

    What an immeasurable gift.

  4. Bowing back. Deeply. To you and to Sophie.

  5. I had a rather clever comment about painting and the dragons I've been dreaming about lately but Google gagged me. All I can say is brilliant stuff.

  6. Back at you, you wise woman. I am in awe sometimes.

  7. I've been leaning toward mythologizing rather than pathologizing this summer. It feels better to everyone. Thank you for this post.

    This is silly - but this post first struck me because I ate at a restaurant called The Green Dragon this weekend. :-P

  8. Thank you dear Elizabeth. I loved Verna's explanation about mythology, and embrace it whole heartedly as I do your philosophy on synchronicity! Prayers back to you dear friend.

  9. When you write that you are "reminded me again of the great power of synchronicity, that, perhaps, there are no coincidences. I am just swallowing my tail, at times, living over and over my life, but I am also red with fire, fighting this godawful disease and helping Sophie to live a better, longer life" I am stunned by the beauty and power of your words, and your life.

    Perhaps it's no coincidence that I wrote about a dragon (in this case Dragon Naturally Speaking) giving voice to the written word.

    I adore Verna and her wisdom. She's a brilliant writer. How I would love to be part of her writer's group.

  10. p.s. and yours. That would really be something.

  11. Love you. Can't tell you how many times I read one of your posts and feel less alone in this world.

  12. Beautiful. I think we all bow to you Elizabeth. You are anything but wacka doodle. S. Jo

  13. Since you chose Van Gogh for the painting in this post, it really grabbed me, mainly because it instantly reminded me of, yeah, you guessed it, Doctor Who.

    Now, you may think me crazy (no WAY) but there is a great episode where the Doctor goes back and visits with Vincent Van Gogh and the painting Starry Night is featured in a very interesting scene that just shows us how artist like him, how a person who is damaged and trying to fight through his pain, trying to express himself, sees the world.

    How appropriate that this is what we ALL do, those of us who choose to draw, sew, write, cook, etc...anything we do to try to process this rupture in our life that has transpired, transformed and mutated our lives, and the aftermath left because of it.

    And it makes me wish I had my own TARDIS, my own time machine, but then I realize that I would be as lonely and as sad as The Doctor, because I know that I could only go back and bear witness and try to make people feel somewhat better about their lives and show them how powerful, how impactful and important they really are when they think they don't matter...I could never really change anything that is fixed in time and space.

    I guess that's what we end up doing for each other, yeah? Kinda, Sorta...I dunno. Just ignore me. I hijacked. Didn't mean to do that...

  14. If you need something to watch and aren't watching Breaking Bad, Who is on Netflix, BTW, but I need to break down some missing parts for you with a few Christmas eps and such that are key to watching if you ever decided to give it a go.

    It isn't everyone's cup, but I think it is blast.

  15. You and Ms. Moon are keeping me sane these days. That's all. No pressure or anything.

  16. Far, far from wack-a-doodle. You're on fire with the life you've been given. When I read your posts, I always get the feeling that no matter what fate you might have been dealt, you would have met it with the same ferocity, beauty, and courage you show here. And by the way, have you read Ursula LeGuin? Speaking of dragons...Her take on them is complex, powerful, revealing, utterly and wholly original.

  17. Well. I can't possible say it better than they did. But I do relate to the feeling that "I've said it all before, so why am I still writing about it." So your words here encourage me. Not that I have your gift for mythologizing, but I am on a similar journey, as I think many are, who struggle to make sense out of life's pain.

  18. I had my first seizure almost 40 years ago, when I was eleven years old. We were on the way home from a family holiday, traveling by train. They said it was the sunlight flashing through the trees. Grand mal. I think its politically incorrect to use that term these days! For most of my teenage years there was always the chance that I might find myself on a pavement somewhere fitting in front of school friends. Or strangers. Idiopathic. Apparently. Ashamed. Definitely. It was only later, after a drama degree at university that the constant anxiety of anticipation hit me. Even with gaps of ten years between them, they are always there.

    I cannot imagine what it must feel like to bear witness over and over to Sophie's trauma. My first instincts when I wake from 'one'is to apologize, over and over to anyone who is near. All of us, helpless. And afraid.

    My daughter's death in a car accident when she was 11 taught me a thing or two about this dragonhood thing.Perhaps we all over time become dragons, breathing fire through the vapor of vulnerability.

    'Ring the bells that still can ring,forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in'

    The toll. The Toll, Elizabeth. But. Also The light.The Light.

    xxx elle



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