Although Christmas was a bit hectic this year, I managed to make time to re-read "The Celestine Prophecy", a transcendental novel by James Redfield, which I first read back in 1994, when a friend passed it on to me. His neighbour had just brought it back from the States, and passed it onto the friend and his wife, and this is very a much a tradition with this particular book, which seeks to help the reader gain insight into the deeper levels of his own personality, and to the wider culture we live in. Inevitably, we used to spend hours discussing these new revelations, with the small community of close friends who had also read the novel, and in that sense, I guess we were like many groups of friends who found themselves engrossed in the unfolding story.
It's often reviewed as a life-changing book, and in some ways it was for me to, back then. Although I had been interested in psychology since my twenties, and had been writing a personal development journal for a few years, (prompted by pregnancy and motherhood) this was the first time I found a really compelling explanation of how our past - particularly our childhood and our experiences of being parented - moulded our personalities and our lives and relationships with others, in the present. And it did feel empowering, to finally have a good understanding of that, for from that point on, I could recognise an Intimidator, an Interrogator, a Poor Me and an Aloof person. I realised I was aloof, not as a way to feel superior to people, but as a way of protecting myself from the aggression of others - if you don't let them in, there's a limit to how much damage they can do you. In a way, that served me well for years, but re-reading the novel over the holidays, I realised I had matured over the subsequent decades, and had become more confident, less of a victim, perhaps due to becoming a mother for parenthood seems to have an incredibly grounding affect on most of us. But it still takes me a good while to feel comfortable on a deeper level, with new acquaintances, many months in fact, as I gradually weigh up how genuine someone is, how dependable. I tend to feel more comfortable with people I have known for many years, I trust my own judgement, much more than the recommendation of others, and that was something I realised quite profoundly, as I re-explored the chapters and insights, one by one. As I reached the end of the book, I suddenly remembered I had promised myself, back then in 1994, I would take a trip to the rain forests of Peru, for my fiftieth birthday, right up into the Andes, to see the ancient Machu Picchu ruins for myself.
On the whole, I don't like to categorise people, either personally or professionally. Human beings are complex creatures, there's good and bad in all of us, and ultimately it simply comes down to whether our own particular personality can embrace someone else's or whether it clashes with it.
There continues to be a growing interest in transpersonal psychology material, as people are starting to question the culture we live in, which is so heavily focussed on work, and material possessions and achieving financial success and professional status, very often at the expense of relationships and family life.
I was fifty last year, a lot of my friends and colleagues are in their fifties, and perhaps middle-age is a time when, having achieved a certain amount, in terms of our careers, and raising children successfully, we begin to seek a more deeply personal, psychological, maybe even spiritual sense of fulfilment. Gone are the days when a fifty year old man would suddenly feel the urge to sell the family Volvo and return home with sporty little TR7, on the whole, men have become much more enlightened, more self-aware in the past twenty years. But for most of us, men and women, there is something about reaching this point in our lives and realising that many of the dreams we had in our teens and twenties, got discarded along the way, as life required us to be sensible, responsible, reliable.
With our children maturing and starting to make their own way in the world, and a genuine sense of achievement and contentment from the role of parent, perhaps we can reconnect now, with that passionate soul we used to be, indeed, perhaps we should.