We recently just passed the one and half year mark of living in New Zealand. It is definitely a different phase now, more settled, but that raises questions and dilemmas, too. Every year here is a year not there. I have a very good career opportunity that has come up here, so I am committed to that, but we definitely have been having some discussions about what our plans for the future are.
I think this is actually a challenging point in the move. The excitement of moving to a new country is not as great. I have a realization that even though I have worked very hard to grow roots here, they are fairly shallow and they feel vulnerable yet. I have definitely grown and learned so many things and met so many people from around the world, here in New Zealand, that it has changed me. This is really a kind of between time. Not a period of intense adjustment, but a period of questioning, and with that questioning, I have also felt mourning. So many of the things I have gained and grown in here are intangible and I wonder how they would translate back to the US. That creates a kind of double mourning: what I left in the US, what I missed out on for the past year and a half, but also about what I will at some point leave here.
It is a time of being pulled in two directions, it is as if I feel that at some point in the future, I will have reached the half-way point in my journey here and the focus of energy away from the US and toward NZ will begin to shift back. I think because it has been such an intense emotional experience here that any change, anything that stirs up emotions gets compounded.
I have found myself thinking a lot about things that I have let go of over the years, not necessarily things that we sold or gave away before we moved to NZ, but things that I have let go of at other points, books, music – things mostly, but I imagine the things are more than just things, but really parts of myself, eras of my life, things that I once cared a great deal about and then let go of, for various reasons. I have been picking up a lot of music on Amazon, old songs or albums that have been on my mind that I no longer have. It is amazing what can be replaced digitally now – most of the music, really, is still available. Digitally, it takes up less space, as I amass a digital library that reminds me of my old stacks of vinyl records and cassette tapes – although it is different still, less tangible, and also it is a re-visitation of the past, rather than an exploration of the new on the edge of the present and the future.
I also bought a Kindle. Have I spoken about it on the blog? I’m not sure, I know I haven’t been blogging as much lately. I like that I can play music on it while I read. I feel better about downloading books on the kindle than paying for shipping from the US (and the environmental impact of shipping a box of books all the way from the US). Books here in NZ are really expensive, it is much cheaper to import them yourself through Amazon. I have been getting a few books that I miss from the past, like Octavio Paz’s Conjunctions and Disjunctions and Ken Wilbur’s A Brief History of Everything. I am really missing my Jung books that I collected over the years and then decided I didn’t want to lug them about everywhere and let go of them. I seem to go through phases of reading and re-reading Jung and I am in one of those now. The first phase was at University, then we moved back to Champaign after 10 years away, and now about 12 years after that.
It is interesting – I have been thinking about the role that earlier interests play in a person’s life. I’ve been working on a conference proposal looking at Jung’s Red Book and Philip K. Dick’s Exegesis. Both of these are massive works that were personal, rather than written for an audience, and both contain intense, spiritual experiences that served as a framework for each author’s later works. The strange thing is that the experiences they had are not so unusual given each authors’ interests. For Jung, he had already been writing about archetypes of the collective unconscious and then he experienced a flood of unconscious material that he managed to ground and work with very creatively for the rest of his life. PKD also wrote about how his life had become like one of his novels, filled with spiritual revelation on the edge of psychosis and paranoia. While PKD doesn’t seem like he was as functional in the “real” world as Jung was, still, he made great use of his experiences in his later work. Back to the interesting thing, though, both Jung and PKD seemed to presage their spontaneous spiritual experiences in their prolific work at writing prior to the experiences.
This is particularly of interest to me at this juncture in my life in which I am looking at some of the things that I thought I had let go of in my life, and I am finding that rather these are recurrent threads – I may have thought I left something behind me, but I find that my interests at a younger age are often my interests at an older age. I guess that is not surprising, I am the same person – and yet I am surprised! Like a painting or a song, there are certain prominent, recurring themes, new elements are incorporated, but they are incorporated into a framework that relates the new elements to the enduring themes. Even coming to New Zealand was an idea I had when was going through my psychiatric training and I became aware that NZ needed psychiatrists. Coming here ties together some of the themes of my interests in culture, anthropology, exploration, travel, nature and then oddly enough, I ended up working in a rehabilitation/recovery model and this reignited some of my earlier interests in trauma, psychotherapy, Jung, and also some of my old punk rock idealism. I never would have guessed what I would be doing at this point, but it is not surprising, given who I am/have been in the past.