Thursday, October 14, 2010

Leaf Street Virtues

The changing seasons bring an environmental diversity that isn't often acknowledged because we are familiar with summer giving way to autumn. In countries where there are only two seasons, wet and dry, there is often a longing for that deft change we take for granted. Symbolically, autumn can be symbolised by the Horn of Plenty or by a hare. I couldn't find a hare for the moment, but there is more than enough to say about life cycles. Stages of development are very important in psychology especially where children are growing up but also in adult life. The cycle of the seasons is much like our progression through life - birth, growth, maturity and decline - a process in which we have little choice but to adapt and progress. Psychotherapist, Erik Erikson presented an analysis of this process, which necessarily encompasses the bleak side as well as the hopeful. Looking at virtues, we start with hope, and move through willpower, direction and competence. As we get older in middle age we exercise fidelity, love, devotion and care. Finally as elders we reach wisdom - the wise old man archetype of Carl Jung. These all have their opposites, which Erikson calls maladaptations. But we try to aim for the virtues.