New book by Philip Kenney

The Writer's Crucible Meditations on Emotion, Being and Creativity

Phil Kenney

Philip Kenney is a practicing psychotherapist in Portland, Oregon. He did his post-graduate work in British Object Relations at the Washington D.C. School of Psychiatry and has taught Self Psychology as part of his private practice. A long time meditator and poet, Mr. Kenney is the author of the novel, Radiance, and a collection of poetry, Where Roses Bloom. He strives to bring together the worlds of psychology, creativity and spirituality in his work and is the author of a new book on those subjects entitled, The Writer's Crucible: Meditations on Emotion, Being and Creativity.

The Sky Is Falling

August 26, 2013

Look out! The sky is falling! Chicken Little was right, truly! I was out walking the dog this morning and I saw and heard it with my own eyes and ears. The sky fell and struck me right on the top of my head! Kerplunk. Look out, Henny Penny, the sky is falling!

But Henny Penny just laughed and said, “No silly, the sky isn’t falling, those are acorns falling from your neighbor’s big ‘ol oak tree.” I had to admit, Henny Penny was right, I had jumped to faulty conclusions. When I looked again, it was obvious that the big oak in front of Lois’ house was dropping acorns left and right. They bounced off the leaves and fell trough branches, landing on the sidewalk the way they do every August. Silly me.

It was quite an acorn shower, I can tell you. I’m not sure if there was a squirrel up in the tree shaking

The sky over the Metolius

The sky over the Metolius

things up and causing the downpour or if the time was right and it was a natural occurrence. Once I realized the world was not ending, I remembered the Perseid meteor shower was occurring in the night sky, and that brought a thrill to my bones: as above, so below.

Turns out, acorns are rather remarkable. I’ve been reading Guns, Germs and Steel with my son, Joey the past week as he prepares for European history this fall. We are in the section on food production and learning that such favorite foods as almonds and watermelons were once upon a time poisonous! It is really interesting to learn how humans evolved from societies based on hunting and gathering to those based on farming and consequently how many foods we take for granted were domesticated and made edible.

That was relevant to my morning walk because the acorn has to this day defied domestication. The ‘60’s rebel in me loves this. Right on Mr. Acorn, don’t give up your freedom and identity! I always knew Oak trees were tough as nails. We walk on oak floors in our home, brought to the Northwest from Siberia in 1920. That’s nearly a hundred years of being walked on by three families and a few dogs, without a dent.

Back to Chicken Little and the gang. The world is a different place when the threat of catastrophe isn’t shadowing us. Of course, when you read any history book you realize that catastrophic threats and events have been the norm. Ask the ancestors of Native Americans who lost 95% of their people to infectious disease brought to their land by European settlers. It is a wonder we ever came out of the cave.

I can hear my good buddy, Larry Christensen laughing in the background. Larry is a psychoanalyst and director of the Portland Zen Center. Why is he laughing? Zen guys like to laugh of course, but his laughter is colored by sorrow and compassion for the fear that grips the heart of Chicken Little and humanity, and cries out, “the sky is falling!”

What are we afraid of? Could the sky really fall? Who, or what, is Foxy Loxy? You don’t have to be paranoid to think, “well, that’s easy, the sky is falling, the ozone is being eaten alive by our waste and pollution. Foxy Loxy is no longer hiding in the bush, no, Foxy Loxy is corporate greed on every street corner ready to gobble us up.”

Yikes! Chicken Little was a prophet! But my friend Larry is a psychologist and domesticated Zen Monk. He is laughing and crying for a different reason. Every day he sits in meditation for at least an hour and in therapy with his patients for many more hours. He will tell you that the modern catastrophe of the soul is a fear of the fragmentation and dissolution of the egoic-self. With a twinkle in his eye, he will add that there is no such thing as a separate entity called self. What we take to be an autonomous self, commonly referred to as ego, is myth: a construction of mind, perception and memory.

True or false, this fragment of consciousness lives in perpetual fear of its injury and annihilation. These terrors show up in dreams and in unconscious dread, best illustrated by the astronaut in 2001 A Space Odyssey who is severed from the space ship by Hal, the mutinous giant computer. The astronaut’s free fall into the eternal dark night of empty space mirrors the ultimate fear of our fragile existential ego.

Of course, Foxy Loxy is all too happy if we feel convinced of our separate, individuality so we will keep buying things we don’t need to obscure or fill the hole we fear will eat us up. Instead, Foxy Loxy devours our life energy and walks away one fat and happy fox.

One way out of the Foxy trap is to go into that empty space. Find the courage to sit with and experience the hole within. We call it meditation, which is a fancy word for sitting with your life. If you can bear it, you will find it is possible to go through the empty spot to something within and beyond that is a presence you will recognize as fundamentally you. This presence holds you and me and the three hundred billion galaxies like a mother holds her baby.

Kiss the sky, don’t fear it. 

Namaste,

 

Phil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Responses

  1. Heather says:

    This one is my favorite. Although I do hope an acorn did not truly send you running for your life. Socks. It’s all about great socks. Foxy Loxy gets all confused.

    Namaste,
    Heather

  2. Phil Kenney says:

    Great. I’m so glad you like it. Socks are all good. So many acorns.

  3. Andy Robbins says:

    Another insightful post Phil! I’ve always struggled with meditation and my waiting for something to happen. I think I’m figuring it out, nothing is supposed to happen and that’s the point. 🙂

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