What exactly is meant by transcendence?

Who was Joseph Campbell? What is a myth? What does "Follow Your Bliss" mean? If you are new to the work of Joseph Campbell, this forum is a good place to start.

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Post by Psyche » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

An excellent reply, markmc03. I think that much of what you say is quite correct and valid. And I do not necessarily think that there is a huge gaping chasm between what I've said and what you've spoken of in terms of larger, broader concepts. Perhaps my terminology is poor; or I lack a focus of thought that allows me to follow the thread of my argument properly.

I also do not see transcendence as a "diagnosis" which reforms one to work for the reward of "warm fuzzies". This would be a disaster. There is alot to be said for personal experience and development, individuality, other ideas/opinions, and diversity. So, apologies if the impression came across as such. The point I am trying to make is that the application of transcendence can manifest in daily life in a practical and social ways: hopefully towards moving step by step toward the goal of shifting a dominant social paradigm: apathy, distrust, and lack of care in general, lack of belief in self and sense of purpose - and all those other growing fears out there. Our North American culture seems to largely be built on Fear of the Other, Fear of Self (success and failure and potential), and Hatred of Self (advertising is all around us telling us how we can take a pill here to feel better, buy that product to improve whatever, have cosmetic surgery to look better, and buy the latest fashion/gadget to be popular). And daytime tv is appauling; popular shows like Survivor have shockingly low values and ethics. And that's just tv. That said, there are alot of excellent shows and documentaries out there that offer some balance. Unfortunately for my tv, it sits gathering dust...there's just not enough time in the day! I digress... To begin by ignoring this media bombardment is a good place to start in general. Clear out all these sterotypes from one's head (and some are deeply ingrained...). Listen to the voice/song of your heart. (ok ok I'm pushing warm fuzzy here...) But, this is one reason why those Cathedrals you mentioned are so fabulous: they are filled with the transcendant, the sublime. They are sacred space. The Cathedral is the signifier of thus. It's easier to get in the right mood and state of being/mind there. It is wondrous and awe-inspiring to walk into one of those Romanesque or, even better, Gothic cathedrals. The space is so high as to aspire to the heavens, and the stained glass allows in gentle colours to fill the stone and largely empty space. There is something More. I suspect this feeling of More has varying degrees: small moments to big, soul shaking moments.

But Gothic Cathedrals also mimicked the natural landscape: tall trees of the forest with light filtering in. And this is not surprising because these places too have areas that have been considered "sacred". These are areas that have this transcendent, mysterious 'energy' amplified. There is a reason many Cathedrals, temples, and oracles are built where they are - they are areas that have amplifed 'mystery', if you will. They usually sit on "lay lines" - crossroads of earth's energy lines. ('amplified mystery' -gosh, that sounds kinda cool).

But as you point out, you can get this feeling at moments throughout the day. Probably on a walk through the forest, or by the beach or someplace important to you. Maybe under a tree! Michaelangelo saw it in the folds of bed sheets, da Vinci saw it in the stains on his wall and by candlelight. Newman saw it in his colour fields, and Pollock in his method. (This is why I responded to your call to Art - actually I think that there is still much merit in some of the original intentions of these artists - its just too bad it is so besmirched with ugly politics). Anyway, I see it in a stone, or a breeze, or in moments of synchronicity, or ??. It always surprises me. I've started to see it in alot of places: some more pronounced than others - I have a few places in the forest that are 'sacred space' that offer moments of mysterious transcendance. I could also feel it downtown when a storm's brewing, or just feeling the movement of the crowds. I like to take a lesson from the "Stillpoint" - the centre of a storm. I stay still and observe the movement and energy around me. No judgements like wow what a nice colour coat or that's a really good looking person. The attention is much higher - open to the energy that is being shaped or shapes (?) the situation. It's wondrous; sometimes frenetic, sometimes lush, sometimes minimal, sometimes with a message. Sometimes it is just enjoying where I am at just that moment. Sometimes just being. It's exilerating. So mysterious.

But I must return to my first comment now: I just feel and enjoy these moments of heightened transcendence and then take with me as much of that good, calm, deeply content feeling that I can with me as I pass through my day. Hopefully I pass this along to others that I meet. Apparently I do, I've been told I am very calming and warm to be around. I know people like to talk to me: they just start spilling everything; they trust, I suppose, and feel safe. Maybe this is also a moment of transcendence. This brings it to a practical, social level - between people at a fundamental level. Reaching deep to move to a higher place; another paradox. This shift in paradigmatic attitude also changed my career choice. On one hand, I could chose a position of noteriety and benefits, wherein I touch the lives of a few 'selected' people. On the other hand, I could chose another career which would be tougher as far as forging it as well as being highly reliant on my individual/personal efforts and motivation, but also serves to touch and affect the lives of many, many more people. Needless to say, I chose the latter. It was a no-brainer of a decision at that point. The choice just seems to be infinitely more rewarding, and every fibre in my being was excited about this choice. This decision became clear as I allowed moments of transcendence spill into my 'everyday' life. This is perhaps part of following one's bliss...

Anyways, this is what I was thinking of.


On another note:

have you ever come across a person who just seems to drain you? They are like a black hole, so needy as to take others' energy. Likewise, have you ever come across a person that leaves you feeling energized and wonderful (different from sexual attractions)? Their energy seems to feed/lift others. This is a mysterious thing. This is quite possibly a transcendant moment. I can't explain it, but I can feel it, and it takes me out of a normal state of being for a moment or two and lifts me to a higher level. I've been meeting more people like this: and I always leave feeling re-energized; one time like a boost from spiritual jumpercables - the shock/jolt reverberated through my system for hours. But, since this journey began, I see things differently, I feel different, I want to share this feeling to others. I want to experience more of these moments.
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Post by Siddha » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hmmm... Joe the Dragon, Grumpy old Dragon… and I thought I was being unique…

Joe the Dragon, in response to your initial question I have this to offer: “once you get a taste of transcendence you will realize you have no choice but to share and teach it”. Of course the question then becomes, how do you teach something that can’t be described? Something so universal, yet also something every person goes seeking in a completely unique manner… So you try like Campbell says to find a crack in the wall and try to return a boon to a society that doesn’t know it needs it. Of course teaching through example comes to mind as a great starting point, but there are other options also… and so the real quest starts…

The day you experience transcendence this question will not be of interest to you any more. Follow your bliss…

Dragen (aka Cliff)

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Post by SunSinger » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Just a guess...perhaps Campbell might say that transcendence is whatever one chooses it to mean...it's your journey, your interpretation of the myths and archetypes.

In "Companion" he notes: "You become mature when you become the authority for your own life."

The hero is the only one who knows where he's going and whether he has transcended anything or whether there is anything to transcend.

--SunSinger

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Post by Siddha » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hi SunSinger,

I'm interested in your word "choice", does the hero choose his/her quest or does the quest choose the hero? I know it is a bit of a chicken and egg scenario, but I'm curious about this word "choice." From my perspective many people "choose" a quest yet after many years they discover the "ladder they were climbing was leaning against the wrong wall..."

I would further say that when a person experiences the transcendent there is no choice, you just do!

It's warm and sunny today in Calgary so I'm going to go out and stop "splitting hairs" :wink:

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Post by Psyche » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

hi dragen,

i'm feel like adding something to your comments: with regard to "does the hero find the path or does the path find the hero" - yes! and no! I think that they just ARE.

It's all a matter of projection and mirrors...(oh oh...back to holograms... and illusions...) When we are not in an enlighted place, we certainly cannot see where we are going esp in relation to Our Path. We are also still unaware of the contents of our shadow. These manifest as fears, anxieties, anger, unwanted qualities that are smeared all over other people and situations. they can show up in weird, sideways ways.

For example, for years I suffered anxiety attacks at the mere thought of having to drive a car - even though I had been a competant driver who travelled through the mountains and prairies many, many times. But in hindsight, it was a projection of a deeper part of my shadow that needed facing. I had to become aware of it, become enlightened to it, transcend this stuck place. The rest was easy. Ah - the freedom to drive again - I love driving, especially on highways.

So, as these shadows are to be dealt with, maybe one by one, maybe several at a time (they can be attached in clusters). And I do not recommend obsessive psychoanalysis: this is not always needed: small changes, realizations can disarm seemingly ferocious Fears. Once this is done, the path changes and the hero begins to emerge.

The path one takes is always indicative of where one is at in life: whether wallowing in the shadows (in which case, the path is obscured and dark; not really a path), or clearing the shadows to dispell the darkness, to awaken, and to see the path more clearly. Like waking up, there are groggy moments. Some wake up slowly, some jump out of bed. Some crawl back under the warm covers. Some embrace the rising sun. Some grab a cup of coffee and try to jump start the process! (ever had too much coffee??? egad, what a bad experience! :wink:)

So, you may now be asking yourself, what on earth is she trying to say? Well...the path and the hero are one in the same; and both their natures change depending on their state of awareness, enlightenment, and transcendence. The Fears are slain to reveal Strengths and Protected Qualities of Authentic Self/Hero. The Fears started off as good guardian dragons, but when unattended to, manifested into unruly beasts. (like all those fairy tales - ferocious dragon in forbidden, untended land with overgrown gardens (or wasted land) guarding the castle/fortress which houses (and provides for) the treasure/princess - a desired quality/aspect).

Back to the sleep analogy: in being "awake", one sees the road one is on. Otherwise, one might be sleepwalking - unaware, dreaming (illusions, fantasies, distractions).

Enough of these metaphors (i'm getting confused!)...i'm also awake enough to see the sun shining outside and I need to take my dragons and princesses outside for some air! Like you, dragen, i'm grabbing some rays!

cheers,
joanne
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Post by SunSinger » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2004-04-03 11:52, dragen wrote:
Hi SunSinger,

I'm interested in your word "choice", does the hero choose his/her quest or does the quest choose the hero? I know it is a bit of a chicken and egg scenario, but I'm curious about this word "choice." From my perspective many people "choose" a quest yet after many years they discover the "ladder they were climbing was leaning against the wrong wall..."

I would further say that when a person experiences the transcendent there is no choice, you just do!
Good Morning,

Looking at the whole synchronicity thing, one might say that if one is following one's bliss, then one will quite naturally choose the quest they are "supposed" to choose. Conversely, if one is not following one's bliss, the quest will keep tracking them down like dogs after a fox.

I like your transcendence point and agree. Many of us would like to say "I'm going to transcend pairs of opposites today at 3pm" or "at dawn, I will become enlightened" and I suppose if we really believed we could do that, it would happen, but otherwise the universe tends to hand us the keys to the kingdom on its own schedule.

SunSinger

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: SunSinger on 2004-04-04 09:41 ]</font>
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Post by Siddha » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

SunSinger

I find the key is "surrender". If we surender to our quest then we get on that synchronos path... so the choice is there as you say. Enlightement is possible in any moment, all you have to do is surrender everything (all your fears and desires) and voila!
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Post by SunSinger » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Dragen

One fears to surrender, but it's the only thing to do. It's that leap of faith we keep putting off. We think it will kill us, but that's the point: it has to.

--SunSinger
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Post by SunSinger » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Good Evening, Parcival,

>>The path one takes is always indicative of where one is at in life.<<

Some philosophers suggest that the outer world is a reflection of the inner world at any given moment. I suspect that is true and I especially believe it in regard to my own quest.

>>Well...the path and the hero are one in the same; and both their natures change depending on their state of awareness, enlightenment, and transcendence.<<

Chopra--and I suspect Jung would agree if he were still around--suggests that our tendencies in life (in terms of a path) can be equated to the archetypes that we are drawn too. We identify with those, try to live up to them, and we "become" a modern day version of them...whether we work at a car wash or a computer company or a farm. In that sense, I am my path, as you say.

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Post by Psyche » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Good evening SunSinger,

You said:
One fears to surrender, but it's the only thing to do. It's that leap of faith we keep putting off. We think it will kill us, but that's the point: it has to.

Exactly.

Leap of faith is an interesting catch-phrase to use. Sometimes it isn't even a leap - it's more of a shove! Sometimes there is no choice. Anais Nin had an eloquent quote attributed to her that goes something like this: The pain of becoming a rose is superceded by the pain of remaining a bud. (Her words are better.) But the meaning is the same: the pain of remaining closed, afraid, tightly protected, and un-furled/blossomed is no longer as the now painfulness associated with needing to expand and grow to one's full potential.

And, yeah, the net is there. I was definitely walking towards my edge to walk off and fly...but was surprised by a Shove! and there was the Net. I think this all works when one is operating out of an authentic, deep desire for change, as well as a deep knowing sense of this is what I am supposed to be doing. It is genuinely what I want and need to do; no alterior investments other than 'this is it'. Then it works. If one thinks: well...I really kinda want to do this so I can make lots of money so I can do this (which is what I think I really want)...then, no, it probably won't have a safety net at the base.

Real change only happens when there is a deep and genuine desire for it.

Back to the Fates that Nudge (or sweep one along quickly): it seems that many such fates are not option-friendly: they come up NOW...and then NOW...and then NOW. It seems to me that these trials and rites of initiation which announce this decend into the firey labyrinth to face one's shadows/demons/minotaurs (whatever word you like) come at various times: sometimes one is ready to deal with them and pass the test/rite. Ha! One monster slain... and then more... Each time is indeed a death of sorts - part of the shadow or Ego. maybe both. Part of us dies (is sacrificed) such that another part of us may now live.

I also think that this is done in stages because doing it all at once would be WAY too overwhelming cognitively and emotionally. And the energy required to reach the higher levels would have to be re-wired for - or we might fry our circuits...anyone familiar with yoga or other meditative, etc., philosophies and practices will understand this corporeally. Body memory and emotion needs to be cleared out also. Body and mind get a spring cleaning... :wink:

SunSinger, you also said:
Some philosophers suggest that the outer world is a reflection of the inner world at any given moment. I suspect that is true and I especially believe it in regard to my own quest.
Mine too. It isn't something I had to think about...i just feel it from deep within. But if I wanted to philosophically justify it, I certainly could do so. A simple model would be how our moods can taint the same information different ways. The same sentence/event could be interpreted in as many different ways as one has moods. This is what one internalizes and carries with them. Imagine a negative internalization vs a positive one. How different would these two approaches be to the subsequent events of the day ahead... very, i suspect.

I am my path
.

Neat. Or...my path and I are.

Love that...just hanging there in the air...

Cheers,
Joanne

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all this wandering has led me to this place...

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Parcival on 2004-04-05 20:56 ]</font>
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Post by markmc03 » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2004-04-05 20:05, SunSinger wrote:

One fears to surrender, but it's the only thing to do. It's that leap of faith we keep putting off. We think it will kill us, but that's the point: it has to.

--SunSinger
That is the part that is frustrating me, the concept that one must die in order to live. This smacks of the resurrection theme and I realize that it is metaphoric. I am still trying to understand it because the theme resonates within me. And, quite frankly, it scares the shit out of me.
Mark - <br><br>"To make an apple pie from scratch, first you must create the universe."<br>-Carl Sagan
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Post by Siddha » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Joanne,

From my perspective there are many types of “surrender” and many moments to surrender in, well actually every moment… but ultimately surrender is a choice. Look at any hero’s quest, how inspiring is it if the hero accidentally overcomes the challenges or is forced into it and has no choice whatsoever? This is also why I think the story of the prodigal son is so important. Or why the guide has to die or disappear. I agree with your blossom metaphor, but there are many, many examples of people who do everything in their power to successfully remain in the blossom stage for their entire lives…

Mark,

Campbell said something like “Have you died to your animal nature and been resurrected?” in TPOM. In other words have you died to your fears and desires and been reborn to your true spiritual nature? In my opinion people do it all the time in small doses here and there, every time you see someone be kind to another. But then there is the first time you choose to completely let go, and I don’t mean 99.99999999% I mean 100%! Then magic happens and your life is changed for ever. You still experience fear, desire and frustration, we just have too many habits that let them back in, but underneath it all is a certain peacefulness a certain connection to the source that changes the way you perceive all of life. Then you can set about to unravel all the illusions that used to guide your life and you begin to look for ways in which to share this boon with others. For me one of the coolest parts of letting go completely was the realization that it had always just been one choice away… :wink: A truly enlightening-duh moment!

Frustration is one of your greatest allies. The closer you get to your end goal the stronger it gets. It’s like a spiritual Geiger counter. Often people find this line of thinking especially frustrating which I think is great! Like Joanne’s blossom metaphor, the more frustration you build up the easier it will be to let go completely.
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Post by SunSinger » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2004-04-09 00:43, markmc03 wrote:
[That is the part that is frustrating me, the concept that one must die in order to live. This smacks of the resurrection theme and I realize that it is metaphoric. I am still trying to understand it because the theme resonates within me. And, quite frankly, it scares the shit out of me.
A metaphor? Perhaps. Frightening? Always. Yet, how can we be something new if we keep being what we already are? That's the thing, I think.

--SunSinger
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Post by Guest » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

[/quote]

Sometimes it isn't even a leap - it's more of a shove! Sometimes there is no choice. Anais Nin had an eloquent quote attributed to her that goes something like this: The pain of becoming a rose is superceded by the pain of remaining a bud. (Her words are better.) But the meaning is the same: the pain of remaining closed, afraid, tightly protected, and un-furled/blossomed is no longer as the now painfulness associated with needing to expand and grow to one's full potential.

[/quote]

The pain of remaining a bud should be an incentive to take that leap of faith, that shove. For a time, we love the devil we know, as painful as s/he may be. Yet the energy builds up and we take that quantum leap.

Sometimes I figure, we're gonna die anyway, we might as well be facing the right direction.

--SunSinger
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Post by Psyche » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Good evening everyone...or morning depending on where you are in the world...

dragen, you wrote:
Look at any hero’s quest, how inspiring is it if the hero accidentally overcomes the challenges or is forced into it and has no choice whatsoever? This is also why I think the story of the prodigal son is so important. Or why the guide has to die or disappear.
(For my reply, I am interpreting this first sentence to mean a negative towards the possibility of shove, force, no choice, etc.)

My first reaction to this was to think about literal interpretations vs metaphorical and where we might draw the line. It's so blurry depending on what one wishes to talk about. This is one of those cases. Specifically, "how inspiring is it if the hero accidentally overcomes the challenges or is forced into it and has no choice whatsoever?" What about Moses? Theseus? Jason? Odysseus? just to name a few. Moses was very reluctant, and he never completed his journey through the desert (on the one hand), but then again, he did lead the way for his people to get through the desert (a collective "resurrection" of a people, rather than a single "hero"). Theseus chose to face his journey, but I think ultimately failed to keep the faith with his new found authenticity (he ditches ariadne for her sister, leaves her on an island alone, and fails to alert his father of his success - he's too busy partying it up and enjoying every reward...). Odysseus never chose his way too long journey away from home, wife and son. Hercules never chose his...it was thrust upon him as penance after being jerked around by the gods. Jason also faced a huge journey that he probably didn't really want either. Yes, these guys are warriors and trained and being put to the test...but some of those stories are just one hellish experience after another, seemingly never ending. Myths and stories give us guidelines, not actual events that tell us exactly what to expect...kind of like childbirth...no matter how many books you read or "experts" you talk to, etc...the experience is never quite covered in any of these sources. There are surprises, there are moments of feeling unprepared, there is no way to describe (or account for) the agony and pain involved. Just like the hero's journey. Actually, in some books on labyrinths, the authors like to talk about being born as our first Hero's journey.

Back to the hero being shoved, nudged, smacked in the face, etc. ... After thinking about it, I don't find anything non-inspiring about these situations. In fact, isn't this aspect of surprise even more heroic to cope with? Imagine you are a martial arts black belt, trained and mentally ready: two scenarios: 1. you face your opponent in a Tiger Balm sponsored competition, 2. you are trained but surprised by an assailant who jumps out at you. In both cases, you are tested; but each has a different 'flavour' from the other.

I think ultimately there is a combination (ratio variable) of choice and shove. But choice needs to come from deep down: Resolve to do something better, different, to change. Otherwise Resistance will fight the journey every step of the way. The result is prolongued agony/frustration...or continued suppression and self numbing (this can take many forms from emotional withdrawl to depression to substance abuse and so on). It is all very real.

As for surrender being a choice...yeah, i can see this point. but i think that sometimes it is coloured with exhaustion from the resistant part of self, because it means the 'world and self' as one knew it will be shattered and replaced with the unknown (which ultimately is better and happier! - but still Unknown at the time of surrender). Surrender also happens in stages. I see surrender as different from the beginning of the journey. This begins before the surrender, which happens once one realizes that turning back is no longer an option. I think it also comes with a feeling of deeply trusing the change process. this is a tough one because we are not 'trained' in doing this, or anything like this. And I dont' think that this is belief, or faith. It is touching a deep part of self, something bigger, the divine; and allowing oneself to follow this, to Know that it will All Be OK.

In two of my absolutely darkest hours - like being in a boat without a compass or mast-sail in the middle of the ocean in the middle of the night, during a storm...I could only hang on through the night to a 'mental' or 'spiritual' mast - patience, perseverence, wait out the acute part of the storm that introduces the Journey properly (it actually began before, but i was not completely aware of how much so until later - Always in Retrospect!! ahh sweet paradox...) But always in my mind were the words "It Will Be OK. Just Hang On". I also heard these words when i 'died' for a minute or so (fortunately in a hospital with a nurse present!). I felt so much peace and dis-engaged observation as I watched about 5 people trying to revive me. Then I heard those words again 'It Will All Be OK'. Surrender to the Journey as it begins again.

Maybe deep down i chose these paths... in fact I probably did! I suspect more 'action' that manifests in the physical world goes on in this hidden part of the mind than in the conscious (despite what the conscious might like to believe!!). But the conscious did not Choose. It was made aware after the Journey began.

But this is my expereince. Each one is unique...i'm sure someone else has another version of the order of things, and even understanding. But that's part of the fun, isn't it!?

Sun singer said:
For a time, we love the devil we know, as painful as s/he may be. Yet the energy builds up and we take that quantum leap.

Sometimes I figure, we're gonna die anyway, we might as well be facing the right direction.
Would that be Up or Down? Left of Right? :wink:

your words about loving our devils reminds me of several things:

1. Misery loves company.
2. Great minds think alike, and fools never disagree
3. don't edit your little devil out, it might be the best part of you!
4.
[W]e have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god. And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel outward, we will come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world.
-- Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, 1988, p. 123
Sometimes facing our fears on our journeys reveal our greatest strengths. I am always pleased and amazed when this happens. Very little surprises me anymore. I can still be pleased, amazed, horrified, disgusted...but not surprised.

I appreciate your ideas to reflect on, dragen and everyone.

best wishes for the day!
joanne
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