Standing Underneath the Shadow of a Giant

“Your life will be transformed when you make peace with your shadow. The caterpillar will become a breathtakingly beautiful butterfly. You will no longer have to pretend to be someone you're not. You will no longer have to prove you're good enough. When you embrace your shadow you will no longer have to live in fear. Find the gifts of your shadow and you will finally revel in all the glory of your true self. Then you will have the freedom to create the life you have always desired.” ― Debbie Ford

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Ok. I love L.A. I love the weather, the light, I love the sights, and the opportunities to meet the right people to interface with and support the art that wants to explode out of me. It has been a blessing to be following my Bliss. But it has not always been joyful or fun.

“Follow your Bliss!” is rallying cry by the late great Joseph Campbell, for a generation of seekers and Cultural Creatives. Unfortunately that phrase is almost always taken out of context. It is not a quote to invoke bliss bunnies, as most people are lulled into being after reading it. The full quote from The Hero’s Journey contains these passages; “...When you follow your bliss, and by bliss I mean the deep sense of being in it, and doing what the push is out of your own existence—it may not be fun, but it's your bliss, and there's bliss behind pain too... If your bliss is just your fun and your excitement, you're on the wrong track.” 

In other words, following your bliss, will lead you, at times, into the dark recess of your soul. It will lead you into the black forest of despair, fear, pain, sadness, and all the other related colors. Follow Your Bliss will lead you into the land of Shadows.

Yoda asked Luke, if he was afraid at the start of his Hero’s Journey. Luke’s reply was that he was not. Yoda replied; “You will be. You WILL be!” 

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“Gods suppressed become devils, and often it is these devils whom we first encounter when we turn inward.”   Joseph Campbell

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Sometimes my inner voice screams at me at 3 am; “Go home to New York, Mark! Who the fuck are you, to try this foolishness? You are out of your freekin mind if you think your will be able to pull this off!  You should have done this years ago, don’t try now, it’s too late. Even if you are somehow manage to get your films made, you think people will even care what you have to say?” 

These are the voices of the Shadows inside my head. They pounce on me like a monster in a horror film, attacking a poor soul who has wandered too far from the safety of his village. It sometimes feels like I am being torn limb from limb by the Gods themselves. All because I have the hubris to storm heaven, and take my place among the greats in film, art and music. And though I am meeting movers and shakers in this town, these voices are so loud!

What keeps me on my mission, is knowing that this is part and parcel of real growth and power. The Shadows within me (and in you) are the untapped potential that has been locked up within the recess of my mind, heart and balls.

In every great story, just as the hero/heroine faces his or her darkest moment, the potential for their triumph is at it’s most ripe. The Shadow is where the hidden juice is. But until the Shadow is fully faced and actualized it will look and feel like a Monster. The Monster might look like a gold hoarding Dragon. It might look like a Demon who guards the entrance of a dark forest and bellows: “Abandon all hope if you try to pass me.” It might look like a killer who stalks you in the middle of the night. It might look like your Mother, Father, Boss, or Lover. The Shadow might even look like you.

One thing I know is the Shadow always has hidden gifts. The gift of Salvation, of Resurrection, or Transcendence or the most valuable gift of all, the gift of Love, is always available, when one is able to look at fear straight in the eye. It is the way of all myths, religions, and  modern storytelling. Integrating Shadows is the Heroes Journey in metaphoric, and in day-to-day life.

Yesterday I work up and decided that I was ready to Blog again. I have spent the last few weeks cocooned in my work, and I have a bunch of topics to share here, about Myth and Pop Culture.

Then I found out Debbie Ford died.

There have been an extremely small number of books that have shifted the course of my life. The books of Carlos Castaneda, The Aquarian Conspiracy, Jitterbug Perfume, The Power of Myth, The Genius of the Beast and a couple of others have blown open my doors of perception. In many ways The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford grounded me as an artist and has made me a deeper human.

Debbie’s work was all about integrating the untapped parts of your soul and psyche, the Shadow, and finding the gold, power and beauty inside the darkness. The parts that you, or I, might find ugly, evil, or even disgusting usually have great riches.  The process of Shadow work, is what Howard Bloom would say, is finding the Gods within.

The genius of Debbie Ford was that she was able to simplify, demystify and illuminate the works of Jung and others and make esoteric knowledge easy to understand. That was no small feat. Her books became wildly successful.

Reading her book years ago, provided me with a deeper understanding of my own creative work. I would have to say that Body Temple and Electric Visions have been greatly inspired by Debbie Ford’s work. I understand the great myths of ancient and modern times better because of her work. Her work should be studied by every writer as much as Robert McKee, Syd Field and yes, Joseph Campbell’s work is. She will make you a better writer, and more importantly, a better and more whole person.

Although I never had the honor of meeting her in person I will always be grateful to have been graced by her hard won wisdom. Perhaps one day, humanity will fully integrate the Shadows within. That will be the day when the human race finds peace within, and with each other. 

Thank you Debbie, may you rest in peace.

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