Writing & Literature

How To Choose When You Can't Choose

Aug 27, 2020(edit)

I have some art news! My cyanotype artwork graced the catalog cover of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) based out of California State University! A big thank you to Ann Jastrab, Executive Director of the Center for Photographic Art, for recommending my work to OLLI.  This catalog is beautifully printed and features the cyanotype art of other artists like Christina Z. Anderson, Brenton Hamilton, Heidi Kirkpatrick, Robert Langham III, Emma Powell, and Brian Taylor. If you want to see amazing cyanotype work, download a pdf copy of the catalog. Also, why not sign up for a continuing education course? The classes will be through Zoom this fall, so anyone can join! Their offerings run the gamut of art, history, literature, writing, and current events. For the front cover, OLLI chose The Unremembered Gate—an image I created in 2012. Reflecting on this image, I realize I’ve changed a lot. For example, the way I approach choices now is more “grown-up” than before. In this article, I explain what I mean by recounting my journey and referencing the ideas of psychoanalyst Carl Jung. If you’re deciding between two jobs, two choices, or two life paths, I hope this article helps!… View More

How to Be More Spiritual

Aug 21, 2020(edit)

I had an epiphany while writing last week’s article: I want to be more spiritual and explore it in my art and writing. I don’t actually want to do this because talking about spirituality is…icky. But then I asked myself, “What’s the point of ‘following my bliss’ if I just turn around at the first sign of fear?” How do you become more spiritual? In this article, I share the approach that I’m learning from the books of psychoanalyst James Hollis and comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell.… View More

Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life by James Hollis (Part 2)

Aug 14, 2020(edit)

There are two things that one should never talk about: politics and religion. I’m breaking that rule today. As I “follow my bliss,” I’m grudgingly realizing that I need to explore spirituality in my art and writing. I really don’t want to. Because, well, of the first sentence of this article. It was with great trepidation that I kept reading James Hollis’s book, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life (affiliate link). In his view, the two main tasks during the second half of life are recovering a personal authority and discovering a personal spirituality. I already wrote about personal authority in part 1, so this article will focus on spirituality.… View More

Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life by James Hollis (Part 1)

Aug 7, 2020(edit)

A subscriber emailed me this week:

“I really appreciated your insights into Rilke, who is also a favorite of mine. The question about why we want to shut out pain and melancholy without knowing their purpose in our life seems especially apt these days of the pandemic and the political turmoil and for me personally at this point in my journey.”
I thought about this email for days afterward. I thought, “What can really come out if we let pain and melancholy work through us as Rilke suggests?” In this article (part 1 of 2), I attempt to answer that question by referencing James Hollis’ book, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up.… View More

Life Lessons from Rainer Maria Rilke: Letters to a Young Poet

Jul 31, 2020(edit)

A few weeks ago, I emailed an 85-year-old writer who I greatly admire and asked for career advice. She had started writing at 50 years old, the age I am now. This parallelism inspired me. “If I want to have published books and lecture when I’m 85 (assuming I survive that long), what would I have to do?” I wrote. I wasn’t expecting a reply of course. The pandemic has turned the world upside down, so there are more important things right now. But last week, she graciously replied:

“Hello Jonah, Thank you for your email….Now if at 50, someone had said what will you do to pursue your career, I would have hopefully responded, ‘Listen to the voice within…’ I certainly had no idea that I would be able to bring my writing, teaching, and Jungian studies together in such a way. Then through dreamwork, analysis, reading, journaling, and silent prayer, I found my way. But your way will be different and you will find it.”
The author’s advice immediately transported me to a book I read 17 years ago but had forgotten. This article explores the lessons contained in that book─echoing her life advice.… View More

Journaling Ideas to Finding Bliss

Jul 24, 2020(edit)

The pandemic lockdown is an opportunity to journey inward to find your bliss. It’s easy to say, but where do you actually start? I believe that keeping a journal is key to finding your bliss. In this article, I share journaling ideas and techniques I’ve picked up over the years from trying different approaches, such as diaries, morning pages, daily planners, productivity journals, bullet journals, and habit-tracking journals. Who knows, maybe these ideas might finally convince you of the habit of journaling!… View More

How to Analyze a Dream Using Jungian Dream Analysis

Jul 17, 2020(edit)

Dreams are the guiding words of the soul. Why should I henceforth not love my dreams and not make their riddling images into objects of my daily consideration?
Carl Jung, The Red Book
Last weekend, I had a dream that mystified me so much that I had to analyze it. This article describes a step-by-step process in dream interpretation based on Carl Jung’s work. If you’ve ever wanted to understand your dreams, I recommend a good book to get you started. But first, I want to tell you about the dream.… View More

The Power of Myth: Why It's More Important than Ever

Jul 3, 2020(edit)

With the unmasking of systemic racism in our society, not just in policing, but in employment, housing, academia, and the list continue to grow every day, I keep thinking of a line in Joseph Campbell’s Power of Myth book: “We need myths that will identify the individual not with his local group but with the planet.” We need a mythology of inclusion rather than exclusion. Unfortunately, mythology has always worked by excluding others. This article goes into why that is and how an individual might change the mythology that he lives by. Consider this post a book review focused on mythology as applied to the systemic racism that is evident today.… View More

How to Use Coincidence as A Guide to a Meaningful Life

Jun 19, 2020(edit)

Bump into a friend in an unlikely place, and you might say, “Wow, what a great coincidence!” This is usually how we use the term coincidence. Sometimes, however, coincidence can move beyond that normal experience—into the realm of wonder, surprise, and mystery. When that happens, coincidence can be used as a guide to a meaningful life. Let me explain.… View More

What to do about Carl Jung's Shadow in the World Today

Jun 12, 2020(edit)

To be honest, I don’t know whether to be angry or sad these days. I’m part of the silent many who support movements that address the “-isms” and “-phobias” that plague our society: racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, xenophobia, and the list goes on. Saying nothing about George Floyd’s murder doesn’t feel right. But saying something feels inadequate also. My hope is that the protests in the US and around the world will help eradicate two viruses when this pandemic is over. Racism is also a virus. And, it’s even worse than coronavirus. This virus is airborne and transmissible through words, images, and inaction. Just like asymptomatic COVID carriers, people infected with racism don’t know they’re infected. This virus doesn’t live in the bloodstream where an antibody test can detect it. Instead, it lives in a person’s shadow.… View More

How to Follow your Bliss

Jun 5, 2020(edit)

When are you most alive? That is the one deep question to ask yourself before the pandemic ends. This week, I want to answer that question by exploring a Joseph Campbell quote:

“Follow Your Bliss.”… View More

The One Deep Question to Ask Yourself Before the Pandemic is Over

May 29, 2020(edit)

Like you, I long for the days before February. “I just want to return to normal.” “But would you want to return to normal?” one Facebook friend asked. I thought about this for days afterward.  I don’t have it all figured out, but I would like to share a story of how I arrived at an answer through the writings of three wise people.… View More

You Can Still Travel - With your Instant Pot

Apr 9, 2020(edit)

Since traveling is out for now, I wanted to write about a practice that might help a little. With this idea plus your Instant Pot, you’ll be in another corner of the world in no time! I’ve also included my favorite recipes.… View More

Coronavirus Preparations & Nature of Life

Mar 23, 2020(edit)

Coronavirus preparations at home and what mythology has to say about the battle with the coronavirus.… View More

This Too Shall Pass

Mar 16, 2020(edit)

The world seems to be ending, but we know it is not. We will get through the peak and emerge on the other side. The sooner we all stay home, the sooner this will come to pass.… View More

Is there room for mythology in the 21st century

May 28, 2019(edit)

Joseph Campbell tells us that mythology had four functions: cosmological, social, eliciting a sense of awe, and psychological. One of these haven’t been replaced by something created by humankind. Which one? The cosmological function explains how the universe was created. In Greek mythology for example, out of the void (referred to as Chaos) came the… View More

My Inciting Incident for Storytelling

Apr 22, 2019(edit)

Everything goes back to childhood. In primary school, there was a reading comprehension exercise that still haunts me to this day. It’s where you read a short story, and at the end of it, you had to answer a series of questions. The first question was… View More

The Artist’s Journey by Steven Pressfield

Sep 19, 2018(edit)

I love Steven Pressfield. His book, The War of Art, is the best book I’ve found that describes the internal struggle some artists face when creating new work. It certainly describes my struggle. The procrastination, the second-guessing, the indecision… View More

The 5 Components of Myth

May 23, 2018(edit)

I recently came across a book on storytelling entitled, The Myth Gap, What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough? by Alex Evans. Storytelling is something I’m interested in. I want my images to have a storyäóîwith a beginning, a middle, and an end.… View More

The Five Laws of Storytelling

Jun 21, 2017(edit)

As mentioned last week, I started reading Pride & Prejudice. What a wonderful book! I couldn’t put it down even though I already saw the movie and knew what would happen. I was reading the annotated version of Pride & Prejudice. This book is annotated by Shawn Coyne, a book editor of over… View More

Your Hero's Journey Could be Large or Small

May 31, 2017(edit)

We get the wrong message in movies. If you are not saving the world, getting rich, or living happily every after by the end of the story, then it’s not worth telling. I get it. A movie that is quiet and doesn’t have explosions will not have broad appeal. Movies are expensive to make. Studios have… View More

How Going To Work Is Like A Hollywood Movie

May 10, 2017(edit)

Could we look at going to work as a hero’s journey just like in the movies? How would that go? Hollywood movies like Joy follow the arc of the Hero’s Journey, popularized by Joseph Campbell who first identified this universal pattern in mythological stories from around the world.… View More

And-But-Therefore Storytelling

Sep 23, 2016(edit)

Recently I was part of a team at work that had to prepare a powerpoint presentation. One of the requirements was that this presentation had to have a clear story. How would we actually do that? I suggested the ABT template of storytelling. ABT stands for AND-BUT-THEREFORE. About two years ago, a… View More

The Archetype of Wholeness

May 31, 2016(edit)

Coincidences happen all the time in our lives. As I continue to read up on the topic of synchronicity, I’ve been wondering about this: why is it that some coincidences are synchronistic and some are not? I just finished reading a book entitled The Are No Accidents by Robert Hopcke. I started… View More

Robert Mckee Story Workshop

May 1, 2016(edit)

I just came back from Robert McKee’s Story Seminar held in New York City. McKee is well known in Hollywood as the Story Doctor. He teaches the structure of stories and how they work. While he focuses on movies, his teachings can be applied to all kinds of storytelling–including the wordless novel that I am attempting in A Million Suns. That is why I signed up; it’s part of my ongoing research. Up to this point (Parts I and II), I’ve been cobbling together an understanding of story structure. I decided that it was time to seek help and learn from an expert.… View More

All Mediums Are One

May 18, 2015(edit)

I went to a Michael Chabon artist talk recently at the University of Baltimore. My friend Kent loves Chabon’s work, and he suggested I go. I’ve only read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which I loved, so I decided to go. The talk was going to be about writer beginnings, as in, where… View More

Idea Transplant: Cyanotype Comics

Nov 17, 2014(edit)

A blog reader sent me a link to this NPR news article and said, “you might want to write about this.” In this news article, a woman born without a uterus gave birth to a healthy baby after getting a uterus transplant.… View More

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