Green Eyes: Forty

Green Eyes:  Anima


Last year, when the staff gave books as presents to the interns, I was gifted with the task of inscribing them.   It’s an honor I’d hoarded for years.  I wrote it on the bridge over the Animas, the one by the gazebo and train.

There’s a wild goose mother below me on a small island. She’s been sitting on eggs for over a month now.  Those eggs are like dreams she is hatching.  The yellow-green goslings always blow me away; they can swim on the day they are born.

The soup is made of stories and we have been slowly cooking, all of us together.  And what a recipe it’s been.   Maybe it’s more like pressing grapes and turning them to wine.  I’m reminded of a song.

A friend of mine wrote it for a particular student who was graduating from Timberline, but it soon became the school song. It goes like this:

You, me, we’ve walked together, we’ve shared the power of this place.   Joy, tears, laughter and wisdom, I see it all in your face.

A mountain lake at timberline, and the tundra in the moon. Canyon walls and pueblo halls, and the stars on a desert dune.   It feels so good, and it seems so real, and it ends just all too soon.

You, me, we’ve walked together, we’ve shared the power of this place.   Joy, tears, laughter and wisdom, I see it all in your face.

Of course, I can hear the music and the sound of many voices.   It lives within me.   We sang the song after the first backpacking trip in the fall, and we sang it again at graduation.  Sometimes we sang it because we needed or wanted to.  And it ended all too soon.  I’m singing it now.

Timberline looked like a school and not a very good one.   She would win no beauty contests.  But as Lao Tzu said, “Who will prefer the jingle of jade pendants, if he has once heard stone growing in a cliff?”

I had a relationship with Timberline that was complicated and messy, like all real relationships.  If you don’t believe Eros is wild and tracks mud into the house, get married and have some kids.  The anima, which is an oddly a masculine concept for a very feminine reality, can look like this relationship.

The Counseling Center has been like Timberline and was the true alma mater of the college for me.   My relationship grew over the years and decades, and while no one else can see or study it, those of us who lived and loved the center, knew.

My wife and I have been together for more than twenty years.  No one else but us can see that reality, and it fascinates me that even the two of us don’t agree.  I’m surprised on a daily basis.

She, of course, is Green Eyes for me, although I am the one who has the green eyes. She is Japanese and hers are a warm and lovely brown.   They have a tenmoku glaze to them, which I translate as heavenly wood.   I think of the trees in the forbidden forest.  The correct translation, she tells me,  is heavenly eyes.   Perfect.





Green Eyes: Thirty-Nine

Green Eyes: Take-Out


Today is the take-out at the counseling center, and I won’t be there this year.   I retired a year ago, and today is also the anniversary of my retirement party.  It was the take-out from my career at the college.   I wasn’t given a watch, I no longer needed one.   I was given memories, and I cherish them.

I’m going to spend some time here, before I leave this story.  I know I can return and probably will, but this is the end of a cycle.

The image of the take-out comes from river trips and rafting. The beginning is the put-in, and it’s an equally important time.   Truthfully, it all matters, but these are the holy days we celebrate and mark.

We don’t honor death in this culture, and we don’t honor slowing down and pausing.  We need a time for reflection, for remembering what matters, and what’s really important.  Psychology and the soul depend on this.

Because I’ve worked in schools all of my life, I’m used to the endings that come each spring.   At Timberline we had a graduation tradition where each student picked a faculty to speak for them.  It was always a great honor.  I spent hours in preparation.

It’s a privilege to openly praise a person you have come to love, and love blossoms when it comes time to die and be reborn, which is what commencement is all about.

The first time I was chosen to speak, all I had were tears. The emotion of the moment took my voice away.  There were so many stories I wanted to share, and I have to admit I was ashamed that I couldn’t.

Years later, my friend, Stanton, told a class of mine, “If crying bothers you, you’ll probably be very uncomfortable with what I have to say.  I don’t apologize for tears.”

He scared the class, but I applauded.   And at the end of the semester, every student remembered that moment.  I was very grateful for what he said and I learned.  It changed the way I thought about myself.

When I first met Anand, I was in high school and I had no way of knowing we’d ride the river together.  But now I’ve been with him for over forty years.   It’s a Biblical number.

And back then, my first girlfriend in high school, at the end of the year, after we had broken up, wrote a simple sentence in my yearbook. “Remember me.”  It still brings tears and shames me in the best of ways, into loving.

How we remember is a magical art.  It can be used for good or evil, and we often forget the way.

I think of Anand as a wild swan, one who has come to remind me of what truly matters and what is most important.   He’s a mirror to reflect true nature and identity.  We are beings in a state of becoming and transformation.

He’s helped me to imagine what I long to be, and is one of the guides along the way.





Green Eyes: Thirty-Eight

Green Eyes: Wild Swans and Soul Windows


I wrote a sansaku yesterday about the wild swans, but didn’t get around to posting it.   Now I find I’m somewhere down the river.

The image was from “The Ugly Duckling,” and the scene where he sees the wild swans land on the garden pond, and then flies out to greet them.

He expected to find his death when he met them. I’d forgotten this.   I’d also forgotten what he said, “That he would rather the wild swans kill him than let the birds in the barnyard peck him to death.”

When he approached and was close, he bowed his head to hide his shame.   That was when he saw the image that woke him.  Instead of seeing his duckling face in the reflection of the pond, he saw that they were one and the same.   He, too, was a wild swan.

Do you think he loves them any less, now that he knows he’s one with them?

I’ve heard that Mother Teresa sees her beloved Christ in the eyes of those who suffer.   No wonder she can comfort and heal them.

When Anand looked into the eyes of others, you know what he saw and how it made him respond.

Jung wrote that the unconscious and soul, just like the Old Testament God, needed to be humanized.   He lacked a human heart and eyes.   Then, with Christ and Mary, the god-image evolved.  It’s still evolving.

In this story, it’s a transformation into Love and a more feminine form. The heart is the eye that can see through the window in the soul.   There are inner and outer ways of seeing.

The sacrifice that effected this change had come initially from Anand jumping into the pools, the water and her eyes. And just like Mouse, who also jumped, both were making the journey towards the transcendence that leads to wholeness.

The Frog said, “Mouse, would you like some Power Medicine? Then jump.”   And Mahri, who was as dangerous as the river is to mice, said about the same thing to Anand:  “I’ll give you love, but you must jump.”  Just like Kabir or Rumi, Anand thought, “What a deal.  I’ll take it.”

After the experience of paradise and coming out the other side, some feel cursed and some feel saved.  It’s the same when it comes to the forbidden forest and the woman with green eyes.   Anand felt blessed and wanted to sing his song of praise.

When he returned to the outer world, he was not racked and punished with a longing for lost and unobtainable love, he was looking through her eyes and she through his.

Now he experienced others and the world as mirrors and soul windows. While he saw himself in her, it was hardly a narcissistic reflection.  He also saw her in the eyes of others.

He saw the Pool, the Garden, and the Tree.   And the Taste of the Fruit from the Tree, Opened the Eye in the Heart.   For Anand, the Tree is the Knowledge of Love.




Green Eyes: Thirty-Seven

Green Eyes: Two Mirrors


The two friends walked slowly back to the village.  This time, no one was watching.   Anand had been the first to speak.

There was much he needed to say, and he wanted to speak it all at once, but knew that wasn’t the way.   He decided he would take his time, and only share what was most important.

“Inyeh, I know you are angry. I can feel this and it’s right.  There is much I haven’t told you.   I regret that now and need to apologize.  I have not been a very good friend.”

Now that Anand had apologized, Inyeh was no longer angry and wondered why he’d felt that way. ”No, Anand, I didn’t deserve to be told.  I couldn’t hear it and betrayed you to the priest.   I didn’t trust you.”

“I’ve long ago forgiven you and hoped it would end this way.” And then Anand said, “Inyeh, I will tell you the whole story, but I want to keep the magic alive.  That means protecting the sacred springs and pool.”

And Anand explained to Inyeh that the stories and superstitions were real. The place is as dangerous as it is holy.   No one should enter unless called.

Like all the holy places on earth, progress and pavement will damage them.  What Anand experienced in that forest was the living wholeness of the land and the creative consciousness that contains us.

I recently ran across a quote from Aldo Leopold, which I long ago copied and memorized.

“The outstanding scientific discovery of the twentieth century is not television, but rather the complexity of the land organism.   Only those who know the most about it can appreciate how little we know about it.  The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or a plant:  ‘What good is it?’   If the whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not.”

I think the outstanding scientific discovery of the next century will be the interconnection between the complexity of the land organism and the complexity of the psyche.

Of course, this is a story about the psyche.  It’s about the discovery of the inner feminine in a young man’s soul, and it’s about developing an inner life.

When Anand finally reached his house and home, he went to the well to wash his face.  He drew a bucket and let the water still.  A reflection formed.

He didn’t see one face, two eyes, he saw her standing next to him.  Especially, he saw her eyes.   And the reflection mirrored that she knew this.  She smiled and turned towards him.

And he saw the garden and the tree behind the two of them, and the simple common mirror, made of water and a pail, was all he needed to remember.

And once again, he tasted the apple; and once again, she kissed him.

Green Eyes: Thirty-Six

Green Eyes: Returning


Inyeh stood at the edge of the forbidden forest and shouted again and again.  He couldn’t hear Anand’s call and feared he had come too late.   He was angry at himself and Anand; this shouldn’t have happened.

He looked into the darkness of the woods, which acted like a reflecting surface.  His voice echoed back at him.  It was very strange and intensified his feeling.  Still, he shouted.

Anand knew the way, both in and out.  He walked slowly, the world had never looked as beautiful, as alive.   He could still taste the apple.

Approaching the edge, he could see out and realized that Inyeh could not see in.

When he finally emerged from the forest, Inyeh still had trouble seeing him.  It was like looking through the mist.  Anand emerged only gradually.  He imagined he was rising from the same pool he had heard him describe, and wondered if he were now a demon, too. 

Anand was smiling and looking straight at him.  Inyeh noticed something was different.  He spoke his name, “Anand.”  He still wasn’t sure if his friend was real or not.

Anand, still smiling, nodded and said, “Don’t worry, Inyeh. I’m back.”  He meant it.

Inyeh, who was looking closely at his friend and studying his face, knew something had changed. His eyes were still brown, but almost looked green.

“What happened in there?”

Anand was about to say, “Nothing, never you mind.”  And then he thought better.

I woke up this morning thinking about an experience I had while living with Lee and Lisa in the mountains. It was toward the end of the summer, and I needed to decide if I’d return to Timberline, the school.

Lee told me to stay.  He intimated something powerful would happen if I did, but I knew I would leave.  That experience had already happened.

This was in 1979.   I’m looking at my journal.   I didn’t wear glasses and wrote in a microscopic hand.   It’s hard to read and poems crisscross the page like a collage.

I was twenty-seven at the time.   We had taken a week to arrive and were camped near a waterfall in the last stand of tall spruce.   The peaks were jagged and usually lost to the clouds.  It had rained for three weeks straight.   We ate very little and I have never been as thin.

I wrote without inhibition back then, and freely used words like God.   I felt then like I now imagine Anand feels.  Looking up at the snowfields that morning, I knew the world was perfect, fully evolved, and the creation complete.  “God at last is everywhere.”

When Anand ate the apple, he knew what was good, what was not.   He also knew what was beautiful and true.   And I imagine, after that long summer in the woods, so did I.

Returning was not as easy as I had thought.






Green Eyes: Thirty-Five

Green Eyes:  Come Here


If wormholes exist in the galaxy, they definitely exist in the psyche.   Anand had just jumped into one.  The outer world stood still, time stopped.

Instead of diving into water, he could feel himself rising towards the surface of what looked like the same pool, only the woman was the one reaching down.

She pulled him out of the water.  He was dry.

The forest here was similar.   She took his hand, and pointed with her eyes.   No words were needed.   He knew where they were going.  There was a garden and a tree.   There was also a fountain, another pool.   This one was built around a courtyard.

The Wind spoke through the trees, and when they arrived at the Pool, the surface of the water was rippling but clear.

They spoke directly to each other through the mind voice.   He knew this was her world, and he followed.   He remembered the way as she showed him.

Jung said he was different because the dividing lines in his psyche were more transparent. He could see and feel what was above and beneath the surface.   He could see it in himself, and he could see it in others.

The pool in this story is the boundary, the border, the crossing.  It’s a relational field.   Anand has come to it and looked across, to the other side.   He saw a woman and she beckoned him to cross.

The sirens sing their song, the one that enchants, and it’s not just the words that reach and call to come over.  It’s their voice, it’s the way they look, and it’s experienced as a higher state of consciousness and emotion.

Why were they feared?   Why were they silenced?   No wonder the song turned sorrowful and mad.  We’ve almost forgotten them.

The Wind was speaking in the leaves of the Tree by the Pool.  He could hear his name being said like a dream, and then he heard hers, it was Mahri.   A name he had always known.

The Apples on that tree were golden, not red.  They were large and living.   The Wind touched a branch.   An apple fell into his hands.

Anand tasted the fruit and then handed it across to Mahri, who also took a bite.  When they did, they heard the hum and voice of the Wind in the Fountain, and they turned to the Pool.

The Wind moved the waters, and they could see an image in the ripples, which had begun to still. The mirror had become clear.

Anand and Mahri were standing side by side, and when they looked at themselves in the Mirror, what Anand saw awakened him.  There were not two faces, but one.

And when he awoke, he was on the edge of the pool in the forest; and, once again, time seemed to start.   He looked up and around.   Inyeh was calling to him.

Anand shouted back, “Come here, come here.”







Green Eyes: Thirty-Four

Green Eyes:  When Women Were Birds


I would write the end to this story very differently than I did back then, which is what I’m going to do. Therapy is about a better narrative.   And most of our narratives are in need of therapy.

When I read the story as Becquer wrote it, the ending came with a certain inevitability.  I knew what would happen.  The scene was heavily foreshadowed.

“Night began to lengthen her shadows; the moon glistened on the surface of the lake; the fog thickened; and the green eyes shone in the darkness…

‘Come…come…’ These words hummed in Fernando’s ears like an incantation.   The mysterious woman called him to the edge of the abyss…”

Here’s how I ended my version.

Anand leaned toward the water and felt the cool touch of her skin.  She was drawing him closer.  He could feel the warmth of her love.

He kissed her lips and then he fell.

The sparks of light danced on the waters of the pool as the ripples slowly spread and died.

She’s clearly a siren, which typically means she leads men to their death with promises of fulfilled desire.  But I had the feeling and intuition that his death was also a transformation, and the story didn’t end there.

Meri Lao begins her book, Sirens: Symbols of Seductions, in this way:  “Homer neglected to describe them physically; to have done so would have been superfluous because everyone knew then what was later forgotten:  the Sirens were bird-women.”

Besides seduction, sirens are symbols of feminine wisdom and so much more.  Terry Tempest Williams titles one of her best books after them, When Women Were Birds.  “My mother left me her journals and all her journals were blank.”

Jung was also fascinated with this feminine archetype and says, “Such a female is fate itself.  A man may say what he likes about it; be for it or against it, or both at once; in the end he falls, absurdly happy, into this pit, or, if he doesn’t, he has missed and bungled his only chance of making a man of himself.”

He ends the chapter with this sentence, “The understanding possessed by this type of woman will be a guiding star to him in the darkness and seemingly unending mazes of life.”

I wanted to know the woman with green eyes better, and about five years after I wrote my version, I started adding to the story.  I realized, Anand did not slip and fall, he jumped.  Attitude and intention make a difference.