This may appear to be emotional superficiality, but it is not; Mel is grappling with very deep emotions, both released and muddled by alcohol. The story ends abruptly, almost theatrically, when the gin runs out. Carver provides no resolution to the tension revealed under the influence of alcohol; he leaves the characters in the dark, listening only to their hearts beat.
Edna decides to give up everything to move back in with her ex-husband Wes, a recovering alcoholic. When Wes decides to resume drinking, he chooses to end his relationship with Edna and to forget the emotional connection they shared.
Wes and Edna both feel powerless against the irresistible draw, the mysterious menace, of alcohol. Old Tiny flat on the floor, kicking his heels. P quits talking. He just clams up. Ironically, in this story, alcohol acts as a social lubricant, but not as a result of intoxication; talking and being social are the only things protecting these men from their need for alcohol. The men stay in control by telling each other about times when they had no control.
Things got out of hand. But he kept on drinking. Alcohol, which gave him the confidence to ask for his first kiss, destroyed J. Most threatening of all, neither man can understand why he threw it all away.
They tell their stories to stave off this tension, to try to attain control over the impermanence of sobriety and the menace that has shaped and ruined their lives. Alcohol functions in a positive capacity in this story, releasing tension, liberating the narrator, allowing him to see and connect in a way he is only open to do because he is stoned. The story opens with tension at its peak, with the narrator in his most jealous and closed-minded state.
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A friend of his wife, a man she has a close emotional connection with, a blind man, is coming to visit. The wife used to read to the blind man, and after she left, she kept in close contact, constantly sending and receiving tapes on which they would tell each other every detail about their lives. She agreed to this. She told me he touched his fingers to every part of her face, her nose—even her neck! She never forgot it. My idea of blindness came from the movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed. Although the narrator begins drinking to drown out his jealousy of the emotional connection between his wife and the blind man, the end result of his intoxication, social lubrication, allows the man to reach an epiphany.
Because his wife is smaller, she promptly falls asleep under the influence of the alcohol and drugs they all consume together, and neither man wakes her. When she no longer speaks, the source of tension between the two men is relieved and they are able to begin bonding. Drinking and bonding with the blind man allow the narrator to confront his own loneliness and emotional evasions, and his mind and life start to open to new possibilities.
Do you have any idea what a cathedral is?
Although he describes the physical appearance of cathedrals, the narrator cannot capture their spiritual essence and begins to realize the limits of his perfectly healthy vision. He feels completely free, no longer possessed by his jealousy, tension, or fear. The alcohol endows him with a liberating vulnerability he would never have been brave enough to reach were he not intoxicated. Although this story, too, ends with darkness, it is created by the narrator closing his eyes in an act of communion; the darkness signifies not unresolved tension or emotional evasion, but connection and revelation.
Generally speaking, we can let go of something when it is lovingly fulfilled.
When our needs as a baby are fulfilled, we can grow towards the next stage. Usually we grow physically and mentally but only partly emotionally. This is because of our emotional backlog. If something is not emotionally fulfilled, we remain stuck in it. This has been discussed in previous chapters as fixations. This is the reason why we usually remember the traumatic experiences of former lives; that is where we got stuck.
What is fulfilled disappears into the background and transforms itself into strength or a quality. Because of the affective deficit, we get bogged down and identify ourselves with what is only a matter of secondary importance. Because of this, we often identify ourselves deep into adulthood with roles we have played. I was a late arrival and because I had a powerless role in comparison with my sisters and I was not yet in my strength, for a long time I identified myself with Tom Thumb.
In this way you will identify yourself with the fact that you are a child of certain parents that is your personal neurosis with your profession, your father, or mother, or with being the wife or husband of your partner. As soon as you identify with a role, e.
But what is your true identity? This primeval question is what it is about in spirituality: who am I when I leave all roles behind? Am I the sum of all my roles and qualities? Or am I more? Or am I something completely different? Everybody agrees to this, but now what about how!
How do we do this? By calling the ego and its roles an illusion or a nuisance because love and lovelessness, light and dark, young and old, are so mixed together?
Or by liberating the ego from its neurotic darkness and in this way from its attachment to what are only roles and exterior appearances? It will be clear from what I have written up to this point that I choose the latter path. This is the path of wholeness, whereby we respect everything and learn to love by means of digestion and integration. We do not need to get rid of anything. Nothing is excluded on the path of love. I will always carry the story of the late arrival with me, but I do not identify with it. I now love that late arrival.
This path of love will then be about fulfilling all identifications through loving emotional work and thus to letting go of them. In this way we arrive step-by-step at who we essentially are. We peel our onion further and further till we get to the core. By loving our restricted ego, it becomes fulfilled and disappears into the background. Light will then eventually come to the fore. The wonderful thing about light is that it contains all colors!
These are the pearls that we find in the third phase of our model: creativity, thankfulness, strength, courage, trust, and freedom. Together they form Love with a capital letter. Because our ego has been a mixture of love and lovelessness, we have become afraid of it, and it has confused us on our spiritual path.
For this reason we have declared that the ego is an illusion and a nuisance that hinders us on our path to God. The fear of pride and the inflation of the self, which developed from lovelessness, are the reason that many spiritual schools chose amputation of the ego. And we do, indeed, see many spiritual egos on the spiritual path, all styled according to the above-mentioned story: spiritual Narcissuses.
Everything is one in origin, but every thing, every element, every being has the task to reveal part of that unity themselves, and it is that special own identity that everybody must develop whilst at the same time, the feeling of the original unity must be awakened. The ego inflation that, in fact, carries a false identity originates when we identify ourselves prematurely with the Spark of Light which we essentially are.
Somebody who was suffering from a deep depression was well meaningly told not to identify with the depressed part but to understand that she was essentially essence and light. She was told not to focus on the wound but to decide from her soul that she had had enough. It did not work.
This woman had to work right though her depressions to liberate herself from them and thus find Joy as expression of her essence at the base of her depression. A temporary identification with the wound is necessary to be able to cope. However, when we do this with consciousness, there is always a part of us that does not become identified with the wound. This clear presence of consciousness helps us through.
Buddha did not reach Enlightenment through meditation either but because he had reached his lowest point of despair.
When he sat under the Bodhi tree, he despaired of meditation, and then it happened. The formerly mentioned Eckhart Tolle described that he went through deep despair before his enlightenment experience. At the deepest point, he had the feeling that he was flung out of it. He described and interpreted his experience later within the Eastern way of thinking. The way through this deep despair is not an easy one. It is the most difficult path that there is for us at the moment, but it is the most worthwhile.
To be able to handle the depth of this Work, the ego must be strong; that is why the many steps of emotional work are necessary.
A great temptation on this path is the premature identification with the light.