The only thing that really matters now is whether man can climb up to a higher moral level, to a higher plane of consciousness, in order to be equal to the superhuman powers which the fallen angels have played into his hands. But he can make no progress with himself unless he becomes very much better acquainted with his own nature. Unfortunately, a terrifying ignorance prevails in this respect, and an equally great aversion to increasing the knowledge of his intrinsic character….C. G. Jung, Answer to Job
It’s about escapism. How we escape from ourselves, from the current political climate with all of its uncertainty, from trouble at home, work, from the ceaseless reportage of the news (in Houston, Texas fitted inside the petrol pumps at the petrol stations are small televisions tuned to Fox News) from our anxiety about all this and how we escape it. Escapism comes in a variety of packaging depending on the level of one’s income. Someone without discretionary money might binge drink and take drugs over a week end away from work. Others with more money plan earnestly a trip to some distant destination where they can forget about the world for a while as they slip into a temporary state of luxury: hotel accommodations on land or water that provide sumptuous buffet offerings, room service, entertainment, swimming pools, state of the art fitness centres, anything and everything that speak to our insatiable desire for leisure and recreation and the need to pretend we are unscrupulously rich. When we return to the business of our ordinary lives we find ourselves either remembering this oasis of luxury or scrambling to make plans for the next one, but most likely a combination of both. In either case, we are living in a past and future domain, caught in this cycle of escapism.
I know what it is like to plan a trip away from the banality of one’s life as I’ve done it myself, many times. I am only observing this about myself and the collective at large. I am not sitting in judgment, I am simply curious.
Why are we so tired? Why is it that most people are either deathly afraid of looking at themselves through a psychological lens or honestly believe it’s a superfluous waste of time to begin with? So, we escape to the next project, to the next event, to the next holiday and so forth, even though we don’t think of it as escapism. We think of this as life. We work hard at jobs we dislike. We are often indifferent to do the difficult work our marriage or partnership asks of us as it quietly grows cold. Thinking that it will naturally repair itself or worse still, convince ourselves that no one else is happy either, we shrink back from the risk of living to our fullest potentiality reassuring ourselves that we will “get around to it someday, when we retire”. Meanwhile many die before that time or become too ill to enjoy themselves. Our lives have become as disposable as the things with which we surround ourselves.
I live in Poland now and am quite fortunate to have reached my own retirement years in good enough shape to do something useful. As you can read on the website, my husband, Paul, and I moved from Scotland to Sichow in order to build an educational centre from the ash of the ancestors.
Every now and again I must resist the urge not to create a place of luxury even though the 18th Century Dwor at Sichow was designed and built for the nobility to host their friends and family in the countryside.
Sichow today is a place where the interiors carry their own sense of aesthetics, its very history contributing to the character of the property. Since its construction in 1794, Sichow has provided a roof over a number of different eras, diverse lifestyles and has been home to many a project. As recently as the end of WWII following a period of neglect and vandalism under communism, Sichow emerged no longer the unseasoned, pristine and innocent building she was once; nonetheless, a building which can tell a story. While the L’Orangerie, libraries, guest rooms and workshop spaces have been restored to top order, part of her façade is in ruin and the second floor of the palace needs refurbishing. She rests within her history like a woman who has come to terms with the blows delivered by life, pulling the grounds up around her with their mature, bountiful trees and meandering pathways like a sacred robe she wears each morning to greet you. She doesn’t give up. She depends on each, successive generation to honour her history, her beauty and the damage she bears.
As the current guardian of Sichow, I am not interested in luxury or bountiful buffets or expensive paintings and antiques, and I’m especially not interested in recreating Sichow as she once was any more than I would to try and recover my own youth. This doesn’t mean I’m not in favour of beauty. The natural beauty Sichow offers. The sounds of nature: the birds in concert morning and night, the wind whispering to the trees, the peaceful atmosphere where the din of traffic ceases.
Considering Sichow is considering her age and the age in which she lives. I sometimes wonder if all the ancestors could assemble upon her lawn today, what would they ask of her. I can’t imagine they would ask she become something as frivolous as a luxury hotel. There are already too many of those from which to choose. It seems to me they would ask of her to meet the times in which we live. Head on and asking the question: what do we need now more than leisure, recreation and the need to pretend we are rich?
Considering Sichow, the answer is education. We need to understand ourselves psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. We need to restore education to a place when learning was the reward, not a job in the mainstream of society where we grow dim and dull witted.
Considering Sichow is considering what it is like to gather together to discuss ecology, the environment, spirituality, psychology, philosophy, healing and much more.
The need to reach for something beyond consumerism and entertainment is dominant today as we approach the question of humanity: what threatens it, what can revive it.
Consider Sichow a place to do this.