Filling the conscious mind with ideal conceptions is a characteristic of Western theosophy, but not the confrontation with the Shadow and the world of darkness. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular.
“I guess I’ll have more time for art now,” I tried joking as paramedics lifted the backboard. For a decade I’d been making my living in the mountains, first as a hawk biologist, then teaching wilderness courses, then traveling the world documenting expeditions. But now I was on the way to a hospital in Chilean Patagonia and I couldn’t feel or move anything below my sternum. My vertebra had been crushed and I was paralyzed.
In the three years since that accident I’ve experienced an improbable recovery. I progressed from hospital bed to wheelchair to walker to crutches to cane.
As recovery slowed, my focus shifted from regaining mobility to rebuilding sense of identity and purpose. Where my attention once pointed outward towards incredible places and the people, I’ve had to learn to turn that observation inward. That inner terrain is convoluted, rugged as any place stamped in my passport, and can be as uninviting as camping in the rain.
Topography of the Self is almost inscrutable. Weather builds and breaks, casting shadows over the range. Storms in the psyche give the landscape scale and depth as shadows slide over folded terrain.