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  • Henri Lang

'I wish none of this had ever happened'

Says Frodo to Gandalf in Tolkein's immortal tale of the hero's journey - The Lord of the Rings. Frodo's cosy world of Middle Earth is a far away dream and all he can see is darkness and turmoil around and ahead of him. Gandalf replies, 'So do all who live to see such times, but it is not for them to decide, all you have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to you.'

Like Frodo I look out on the world distressed and disturbed by a pandemic and worry for my own and many others who I do not know but I know to be suffering in a myriad of ways. It is a key characteristic of those with a mystical leaning to feel keenly tuned into the collective sphere. We don't choose to be like that we just are; and it can be a burden.

I find Gandalf's words very consoling - 'all I have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to me.' Making decisions is a big part of working out the best way to live this time and often it's hard to know what to do for the best. I have had the privilege of attending 12 step programme the basis for AA, CODA etc in which Jung was instrumental in designing. One of the first steps is taking a good look at what we can and can't control. So I write down all the things that I'm distressed by or worried about on sticky notes and divide them into two columns: things I can influence and things I can't. Then I take the 'can' list and work out the next right step for each of them and work my way through it. For the can't list I give myself an affirmation: 'I cannot put the world to rights, but I can put myself to rights.' And so I put myself in order; the one sphere of life I can turn the right way up.

In fact I think I might settle down to watch the Lord of the Rings again. If only to remind us that whatever each of us is experiencing, we are all on our each individual hero's journey, each as valid as the other whatever our circumstances. And if I can bring some joy and comfort into my own sphere of influence as small as it may be, in a world where there appears to be so little comfort or wellbeing, I can add a littleto the total sum of goodness in the world.

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