Spring Forward, Fall Back: Eternal cycles Once again we prepare to move our clocks, both physical and biological, into daylight savings time.
As daffodils, freesias and narcissus begin popping up from the bulbs I planted last year, they remind me of thoughts planted yesterday that bloom into tomorrow’s reality. An accountant friend of mine would always recheck the restaurant bill for accuracy. It was usually wrong by quite a bit. Alarmed, I began carrying a calculator to do the same. I found that the bill was usually right, and when it wasn’t, it was often in my favor. The difference was that he expected the bill to be wrong and I expected it to be right.
Recall the Greek myth of Persephone, goddess of springtime, daughter of Demeter, who was abducted by the Underworld God, Hades. For a moment, step into that role. Leave your real body and become a lithe, attractive, youthful woman. They call you Sef, short for Persephone. It’s boring in the castle on such a warm spring day, so you decide to pick flowers in the meadow. A particularly attractive flower catches your attention and you reach down to pick it. Suddenly you find yourself on the wrong end of a huge, hellacious beast! Oops – wrong flower! Uh oh! He’s taking you down under the earth to his realm. As the sunlight of day fades, you descend deeper into the depths of despair. Losing all hope of rescue, you resort to the only thing left – eating! Accepting a few pomegranate seeds, you allow the sweet sourness to assuage your depression.
Here in this dark underworld you are the queen, yet no one above knows where you have gone, until one day you are surprised by a visit from a lawyer, sent by your mother, Demeter. “I’ve got some good news and some bad news,” the lawyer confides. “The good news is that you can come back up to the world of happiness, sunshine and friends. The bad news is, since you ate something here, you must return for part of each year to be queen of this underworld.”
Back in your castle, as you journal about your experiences, you realize you are no longer god-like. Now you will go through the human cycles of emotions, from sunlight to the underworld and back. There will always be cycles. The question is, will you focus on the sunlight or the underworld? Persephone actually ended up doing good works in her underworld time, helping lost souls. In a sense, our negative emotions are our own underworld. Emotions are magnetic in nature, meaning if you are an angry person you may magnetically attract into your life angry people or situations. Conversely, if you’ve blocked out any expression of anger, you will need to bring in people who act it out for you. Once you’ve done some “spring cleaning” on those emotions, you regain the choice of what to focus on instead.
Focus is a tricky thing. If I tell you NOT to think of a purple giraffe, you have to think of that Disney giraffe before you can negate it. The unconscious mind actually doesn’t process negatives very well. Tell a kid not to write on the wall or not to spill their drink, and they are immediately doing it. Have you ever gone on a diet and all you focus on is NOT having food? Diets like that are doubly hard because you’re really focusing on – delete the NOT – having food. We can expect to cycle through positive as well as negative emotions – that’s life. The question is, where is our focus and what experiences are we drawing to us? And, like Persephone, how do we use our “underworld” emotions to do good works?