Synopses & Reviews
ATTACHMENT AND FLIGHT
When we consider the soul of relationship, unexpected factors come into view. In its deepest nature, for example, the soul involves itself in the stuff of this world, both people and objects. It loves attachments of all kinds--to places, ideas, times, historical figures and periods, things, words, sounds, and settings--and if we are going to examine relationship in the soul, we have to take into account the wide range of its loves and inclinations. Yet even though the soul sinks luxuriantly into its attachments, something in it also moves in a different direction. Something valid and necessary takes flight when it senses deep attachment, and this flight also seems so deeply rooted as to be an honest expression of soul. Our ultimate goal is to find ways to embrace both attachment and resistance to attachment, and the only way to that reconciliation of opposites is to dig deeply into the nature of each. As with all matters of soul, it is in honoring its impulses that we find our way best into its mysteries.
The soul manifests its innate tendency toward attachment in many ways. One way is a penchant for the past and a resistance to change. A particularly soulful person might turn down a good job offer, for example, because he doesn't want to move from his home town. The soulfulness of this decision is fairly clear: ties to friends, family, buildings, and a familiar landscape come from the heart, and honoring them may be more important for a soulful life than following exciting ideas and possibilities that are rooted in some other part of our nature.
A radically attached person may lead a sedate life because he seldomlikes to leave home; he may even decide not to buy an automobile for that very reason. Many writers and artists have exhibited this soulful orientation away from worldly activity. Emily Dickinson, for example, spent her entire mature life at her family's homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts. In a letter of 1851 to her brother Austin she wrote, "Home is a holy thing--nothing of doubt or distrust can enter its blessed portals . . . Here seems indeed to be a bit of Eden which not the sin of any can utterly destroy."1 Samuel Beckett was notorious for his love of his sparse apartment and for his resistance to the world. "All I want to do," he once said early in his career, "is sit on my ass and fart and think of Dante."2
C. G. Jung said that the soul itself is fundamentally oriented toward life--the soul, he said, is the archetype of life--while the search for meaning or the quest for higher consciousness has some other root. The soul finds its home in the ordinary details of everyday life and does not in itself have an urgent need for understanding or achievement. James Hillman, Jung's unorthodox follower, picks up on Jung's distinction between soul and spirit, saying that soul resides in the valleys of life and not on the peaks of intellectual, spiritual, or technological efforts. In his essay on this theme, "Peaks and Vales," Hillman writes that the soul is the psyche's actual life, including "the present mess it is in, its discontent, dishonesties, and thrilling illusions."' Something in us--tradition calls it spirit4--wants to transcend these messy conditions of actual life to find some blissful or at least brighter experience, or an expression of meaning that will take us awayintellectually from the quagmire of actual existence. When the soul does rise above the conditions of ordinary life into meaning and healing, it hovers closely and floats; it doesn't soar. Its mode of reflection is reverie rather than intellectual analysis, and its process of healing takes place amid the everyday flux of mood, the ups and downs of emotions, and the certain knowledge that there is no ultimate healing: death is an eternal presence for the soul.
By definition, the soul is attached to life in all its particulars. It prefers relatedness to distancing. From the point of view of the soul, meaningfulness and value rise directly out of experience, or from the images and memories that issue modestly and immediately out of ordinary life. The soul's intelligence may not arrive through rational analysis but through a long period of rumination, and its goal may not be brilliant understanding and unassallable truth, but rather profound insight and abiding wisdom.
This penchant of the soul for the complications of life plays a role in personal relationships, our ultimate theme in this book. Relatedness means staying in life, even when it becomes complicated and when meaning and clarity are elusive. It means living with the particular individuals who come into our lives, and not only with our ideals and images of the perfect mate or the perfect family. On the other hand, honoring the particular in our lives also means making the separations, divorces, and endings that the soul requires. The soul is always attached to what is actually happening, not necessarily to what could be or will be.
Dreams, which have much to teach us about the nature of the soul, sometimes portray ourmany ways of being attached to the past. They may take us back to places we once visited or where we lived long ago. A dreamer may begin telling his dream by saying, "I was in the bedroom of the house where I grew up, and some of my favorite dolls were gathered around me." People will sometimes say, "I've tried to put this divorce behind me, but in spite of my wishes I find myself dreaming of my former husband." The soul is inclined toward the past rather than the future, toward attachment to people, places, and events rather than detachment, and so it is not quick to move on.
This companion volume to Care of the Soul
offers more of Thomas Moore's inspiring wisdom and empathy as it expands on his ideas about life, love, and the mysteries of human relationships.
In Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore explored the importance of nurturing the soul and struck a chord nationwide — the book became a long-term bestseller, topping charts across the country and selling 550,000 copies in hardcover and paperback combined. Building on that book's wisdom, Soul Mates, already a hardcover bestseller, explores how relationships of all kinds enhance our lives and fulfill the needs of our souls. Moore emphasizes the difficulties that inevitably accompany many relationships and focuses on the need to work through these differences in order to experience the deep reward that comes with intimacy and unconfined love.
Now available in trade paperback, this companion volume to Care of the Soul offers more of Thomas Moore's inspiring wisdom and empathy as it expands on his ideas about life, love, and the mysteries of human relationships. The hardcover edition sold more than 200,000 copies.
About the Author
Thomas Moore was a monk in a Catholic religious order for twelve years and has degrees in theology, musicology, and philosophy. A former professor of psychology, he is the author of Care of the Soul, Soul Mates, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life, The Education of the Heart, The Soul of Sex, and Original Self. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and two children.