Our history. Story #1: 'No Harness Please'.
I try to conceive the whole context.



'Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it'.
George Santayana [ note ]

We humans tend to repeat our history, unhappy as it may have been. Perhaps above all the unhappy episodes. How about the knowledge of our own, our personal history? Do we have to repeat the difficult episodes again and again as long as we do not understand them sufficiently? Does it help if we learn to better handle our personal history? But how should I use my own history so as not to repeat it over and over again? How can I interpret it properly?

Stories have always been used to transfer information, most of the time with the intention that the message should be remembered more easily. Some stories which have been told are as old as the world, others are more recent. Some stories have been told to offer tools and advice, even an anchorage for life, others are playful and meant to entertain the reader. Some stories are mainly taken from real life, some are to a great extent made up fantasies.
Like everybody else, I have heard and read many stories. Some of the stories which I read or listened to I can still remember while I have forgotten others. There are also stories which I made up myself. I do not mean constructed fictional stories but my selective memories of past events. At times I forgot them or did not think about them, to remember them at a later moment.

Reminiscing is like looking in a mirror. Sometimes it is terrifying or embarrassing, sometimes it makes you laugh and sometimes it gives you satisfaction. I have noticed that all my reminiscences say something about myself, even when they seem to only concentrate on things or other people. Since I may need examples to illustrate my point at a later stage, I would like to relate some of my reminiscences. Stories about myself in fact.

I have formed my individual context in terms of my view of my experiences. Memories are retained very selectively. In my opinion it is not enough to say that this selection is merely emotional. We retain what is of importance to us. However an emotion like fear does determine when and to what extent the memory will be accessible [ note ]. Everything a person says about their experiences tells us something about the way that person faces aspects of him- or herself. When I speak about my father I speak about (aspects of) my self-esteem and my self-reliance, how I look at my essential self. When I describe my mother, I refer to my emotional or caring side, to my capacity to offer safety and shelter, to reflect. As a consequence, we can tell ourselves who - in these respects - we are. The following story is an example of this idea.


No Harness, Please

"Like most toddlers I needed to take a nap in the afternoon. When we grew too big for the cradle we, my brothers and sister and I, in turn moved to the cot. During the period when I used to sleep in it, presumably until I was three-and-a-half years old and my one year old brother grew too big for the cradle, a little harness was fastened around its mattress. This harness seems to have been designed to prevent me, a restless child, from tossing too much, kicking off the blankets and getting cold.
One day my father took me upstairs to put me in bed. In those days that was an unusual thing for a father to do. It implied that neither my mother nor the maid was in the house, suggesting that it happened a year after the birth of my younger brother, when my mother was in hospital, and that it was a Sunday. Father wanted to put on the harness, as he should. I must have protested and probably promised that I would not toss and turn - or at least would try not to - and therefore the harness could stay off."


How do I deal with these things now? I try to conceive the whole context

This is what I remember and how I look at it now. For the sake of completeness I want to report that I did get entangled in the sheet, and had to find a solution to the problem all by myself. As well as this story I remember yet another occasion on which my father initiated a mutual arrangement and offered me freedom of choice.

It is quite obvious that this story not only says something about my father, myself and the harness, but that another person - though absent - took part in the story who was uncommonly concerned about me and wanted me to be safely harnessed. My mother was a very careful mother indeed. She tried to achieve total control in caring for us by applying both intelligent and extremely effective, even absolute, measures.
She was not the cuddling type. She taught me to read, she played the piano and sang for us, and she loved family games, while my father would rather play gymnastic games with much more body-contact. My mother clearly had a religious anchorage, while father was a much more independent thinker.

Have my parents wronged me? Can I reproach them with something? Certainly not. I myself have retained that memory and included it in my personal context. These two ways of handling power(lessness) and (in)dependence, which are almost complementary to each other, are both part of me. Confrontations with people with ways of thinking that give me a sense of powerlessness or dependence evoke in me a strong resistance. It is a part of the learning process that is characteristic of me. Without this I could not possibly become the person I need to be. Unconsciously my parents gave me the experiences I needed and I consider this a reason to be very grateful to them.


The story in review

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Concise descriptions relevant to the story

Terms and symbols
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  1. Sun    Father: thinking self-reliantly; going his own way; following his own ideas and listening to others; handling differences and different opinions independently;
  2. trying to stand by himself in situations of powerlessness.
  3. For myself this means (a) that which I want to achieve most deeply and (b) continuously turning up in confrontations with subjective power and with that getting all kinds of opportunities to unify it with my trying to discern things independently.
  1. Sun    The SUN is situated in the 3rd phase in the sign (colouring or filter) of CAPRICORN;
  2. in opposition with PLUTO.
  3. My way of handling this capability.

fig.1: Rini Sips
Click for the full birth chart

  1. Pluto    The harness: symbol of power(lessness) and (in)dependence of routine.
  2. For me this means (a) that I can be involved routinely or continuously with subjective ways or unconscious aspects of thinking and (b) that I continually get involved with dismissive and tacit subjective ways of thinking.
  1. Pluto    The planet PLUTO, in the 9th phase in the sign (colouring or filter) of CANCER.
  2. My way of handling this capability.
  1. Moon    Mother: a person who tried to understand herself as a very caring person;
  2. in her weak position searching for a handhold in existing solutions and to that end contriving absolutely effective schemes and techniques; who expressed warmth without words.
  3. For myself this means (a) that I try to fit in subjectivity with the larger framework and (b) that I regularly feel confronted as a woman and as a subjective being with situations of power and have found many opportunities to learn to comprehend and manage such situations.
  1. Moon    The MOON is situated in the 9th phase in the sign of CANCER;
  2. in conjunction with (runs into) PLUTO.
  3. My way of handling this capability.

Only part of the picture

These three items are not isolated. They should be added up as it were in order to get an idea of the effect of the three capabilities together. Possibly that would still yield only a very incomplete picture. We do not know yet if and how other parts act upon them and of what importance these capacities are in the complete picture.
That is what I mean by endlessly complicated and therefore interesting. It looks like a private puzzle with a characteristic set of capacities for everyone to compose that singular story with.