And I said, “Where are we now, Youth?”
And he replied, “We are in the field of Bewilderment. Take heed.”
And I said, “Let us go back at once, for this desolate place affrights me, and the sight of the clouds and the naked tree saddens my heart.”
And he replied, “Be patient. Perplexity is the beginning of knowledge.”
The Voice of the Master
This book is the story of my life between the ages of 14 and 18. It chronicles the events and experiences that happened to me in Wales and Ireland in the period 1966 and 1970. Those were years of teenage turmoil living in a peculiar family, a time of inner chaos made more acute by an encounter with death.
My experiences were unusual enough—but that is not the main reason for writing this book. Life is so much more than a series of events. Beneath the skin, below the surface, something profound is going on, a whole cloth of deeper meaning and purpose. Subtle threads weave intricate patterns through the fabric of our lives, patterns we often overlook or fail to recognize. To understand ourselves, we have to tease out the strands, searching for the guiding signs and subtle indications. Only then do we recognize life for what it is—a purposeful journey of the soul.
Adolescence is a special time, a time of awakening. As we leave the comparative tranquility of childhood, tide-like forces of instinct and spirit stir deep in our psyches, erupting into semi-consciousness as inner and outer unrest. During that period, we feel intensely, love and hate passionately because our bodies and souls are newly infused with the life force. It shakes us, fills us with dread and wonder and creates openings in the delicate structure of our newly crafted self. Within those openings, the seeds of inspiration and self-awareness grow.
Do you remember your adolescent awaking? Think back to your first sexual stirrings, how confusing and compelling they felt. Were you shocked by just how wicked the world was; were you filled with a burning desire to change it for the better? Did you struggle with belief, with temptation and with trying to be a good person? Yes, it was painful—but you were fully alive, maybe more alive than you are now. As you read my story, I invite you to recall your own youthful experiences—the vivid enthusiasms, startling insights and acute suffering that formed your being.
As a psychologist, I spend many hours exploring adolescence. I try to help clients unearth the impact and meaning of their teenage years and recognize the life-changing decisions and patterns that influence their adulthood. How should I not do the same for myself?
At the end of each chapter I’ve added personal reflections and psychological musings; my intention is to illuminate what was going on beneath the surface at that time. I hope those ruminations prompt you to retrieve some of your early intuitions lying mislaid or neglected. To help you with that enlightening process, you will find a Self-reflection Guide with questions and suggestions at the end of the book.
When we begin to examine our teenage years, it is like looking through an unfocused telescope at the early days of our life journey; everything seems far away and indistinct. As we focus in more closely, as we recapture the intimate details, we remember who we were and just how far we’ve come. Then we can address the most important question: Am I still travelling on the right path?
Life Tides will be published in 2019. I welcome comments and suggestions.