After graduating High School overseas I was at a loss as to where to go next. I had family in the Pacific Northwest, a girlfriend in Australia, and friends scattered across the US and England. I decided to spend a year living with my brother near Seattle to take my time with the decision.
As a missionary kid from a humble family background attending a prestigious international school in Europe, I had enjoyed an illusory sense of social standing. Now the cold reality set in. We lived in a basement in a working class town and earned little at our jobs.
The middle section of Dante’s Divine Comedy has the pilgrim climbing up Mount Purgatory guided by the Latin poet Virgil. Unlike hell, in purgatory the suffering has a purpose – it is purgative, it strips away illusion, distortion, excess.
In the poem, Purgatory is the only part of the journey subject to time. It’s not the subconscious torment of Hell or the superconscious divine union of paradise. It corresponds instead to our conscious, everyday lives.
When I was in a relationship in my late teens I was cheated on. What made the experience even more devastating was the sacrifices I had made for that particular relationship and how tightly I clung to it for a sense of self-worth. Talk about all your eggs in one basket!
The psychological toll was tremendous, especially for someone who’s core desire is for affection and esteem. For me, that meant serial fixation on someone as the source and symbol of that affection and esteem.
A little while ago I was contacted to see if I would be up for reviewing an upcoming book on the blog. Technically I refer people to books all the time, so I was at least open to it, if a little wary. But the project sounded interesting, so I decided to read it and promised to post a review if it could serve my audience in a practical way.
Going through the process of finding a publisher for my current book made me certainly aware of the herculean task of building some buzz around a project you deeply believe in. So I looked up the author’s company, Mindvalley, and looked into one of their new ventures, Soulvana, offering subscription-based spirituality courses by people like Thich Nhat Hanh and Eckhart Tolle. Fascinating.