orpheusWhy Not Look Back

Orpheus was a legendary poet, musician and prophet in ancient Greece. Because of conquering and the destruction of that empire, the facts of his life have been woven with mythology.

Only fragments of his work survive, and the attribution to him is dubious.

His songs were reputed to charm every living creature and even inanimate objects. His music brought the world together in the moment it was heard.

Orpheus loved his wife Eurydice and when she died from a viper’s bite, the songs of his mourning captivated everyone who heard them. Overcome with his grief, he was encouraged to go to the Underworld and beg for her release.

Orpheus sang to the god of death Pluto and his beloved wife Persephone. Moved by his passion, Pluto agreed to her ascent to the land of the living, but only if Orpheus walked ahead and did not look back.

As he approached the light of day, he panicked and turned to see if Eurydice was indeed behind him.

Orpheus witnessed her startled eyes as she transformed into dust.

The myths of the Underworld haunt us today because they capture the finality of death and the past. Nonetheless there is value in memories; like stones worked in the river, they can become smoother with time.

The question is what kind of memory is it?

Do you work the memory to give it less edges so that it no longer bites?

Or is it a memory that is comfortable to keep in your pocket?

A memory may pop up today. In the myth, to look back is to wipe out the conceivability of bringing the past into the present. If you’ve worked with the past to confront it, then you understand the value of this.

When something from the past haunts our everyday life, we do need to address it. In the myth of Orpheus, his inability to bring the past into his present causes him perpetual mourning.

November Lake ©Cucinell 2010

When I am in grief because a loved one has died or something is lost, I must walk through the tunnels of my emotions until I start to connect the new reality to the present.

If this note finds you in that place, know that an end to grief cannot be forced, but every day give yourself a tranquil moment. One of the fastest ways to connect to tranquility is by the water: a lake, river, ocean, waterfall or even an aquarium.

Memories can erupt regardless of your state of mind— grief is not the only doorway to the past.

Sometimes the memory is not obvious; you may react to a situation in a way that seems inappropriate or over the top. Reflection

enables revelation. Ask yourself why and a memory may surface, either completely or just a hint. Give yourself permission to see the whole and it may come through a dream or another encounter. Be kind to yourself with a nourishing meal and the time to truly enjoy it.