Remembering the Healing Stories

Winter_FogLauret Savoy ends Traces with this: “Remembering is an alternative to extinction.”

Remembering is a well-formed story. One of my early clinical teachers used to insist that neurosis was that which prevented the development of healing story, and that psychotherapy was the search for stories that worked. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is also the most useful definition of trauma; indeed, perhaps, as Pierre Janet suggested, trauma and neurosis are essentially the same. In that view, neurosis becomes a sort of effect of trauma, a trace of that which defies narrative.

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, we are reminded that violence seeks to interrupt the development of rich, liberating stories. To those who hold unfair advantage, there is something frightening in the arrival of empowering, healing stories, and they will do all within their power to prevent the development and dissemination of such liberatory narratives. Assassination is, thus, an attempt to thwart, even erase, a developing narrative. It may also be, as in the Cases of Dr. King and Robert Kennedy, an attack on the very soul of a group of people, and thus, a form of genocide. This was blatantly the case in the forced removal of Native children, and their dispersal to far-flung residential schools, as well as in the programs that relocated Native families and individuals to the cities; in each case The People were separated from language and story.  Continue reading

The Miracle of a Body

SolsticeNew Years Eve; outside, a dramatic sunset. The weather has turned chilly and damp, almost seasonal, and there are finally a few inches of snow on the ground. This evening we will visit with friends, bringing in the New Year with games, food, and a good fire.

I began writing this in daylight and must turn on the lights in order to finish. The New Year comes about ten days after the solstice. By now, the days are perceptibly longer, and the sun, and the year, seem renewed. Even so, most nights darkness falls well before five. Continue reading


First_SnowWe went downtown last night to walk and enjoy the lights. As we drove home the snow began. This morning, for the first time this season, there are a couple of inches of snow on the ground. It appears to be snowing still in the mountains where snow fell most of yesterday. Christmas Eve the temperature is forecast to be about  60F, the old record is 51F.

The steady warmth of this autumn and winter stand in sharp contrast to the cold of the last two winters. Yet, a quick look at a long-term temperature graph clearly points to precipitous warming. Here in Vermont we are on the southern edge of the great Maple forest biome. The rapid warming of our region, especially during our winters, forecasts the collapse of this ecosystem, probably within thirty years. The changes are simply too fast for the ecosystem to adapt.

I’ve been reading Lauret Savoy’s new book, Trace. Lauret Savoy is a prominent earth scientist of African-American, Native, and European descent, who has encountered enormous prejudice in her life, even as she has found a world filled with mystery and wonder. Early in the book she speaks to being awakened to the possibility of a land ethic, and perhaps, a larger ethic for living on our small, fragile planet, while reading Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac. She quotes him: Continue reading