Spiritual Mental Health Series

The story of Greta Garbo is thoroughly documented, to say the least. Born in a poor neighborhood in Stockholm, worked at a department store that utilized her for modeling and even a short PR film, then a PR film for a different local business, another film and then a scholarship to the Royal Dramatic Theatre – onto the fateful meeting with director Mauritz Stiller. After an interesting road of paying dues and moving up, which included the infamous showdown with MGM and silent films and talkies, somewhere along the way she took the step into movie and cultural icon.

It is well-known that it was invariably a combination of factors that came together to build the legend; Obviously, her own personality and pristine beauty, the image making machinations of the studio system, the drama of the story of how her career developed and played out, also at times the mirroring of events in the movies she was in – creating a truth-as-fiction, fiction-as-truth dynamic. So, directly onto a short posit of what she has meant to so many and a bit of theorizing as to the possible why – for the sake of some potential philosophic takeaway.

It is apparent that the lady’s sense of lone self, perceived as reaching absolute levels, is the cornerstone of her mythology. Examining that further: Two related principles that speak to something profoundly fundamental about us as beings.

-Independence so genuine it is no-bluff willing to sacrifice things considered of great value, in the process telling the powers that be to take a hike. Who doesn’t like the thought of that?

-A sense of solitude so complete that it is a living indication that we are all our own ultimate company, which in turn is maybe revealing something about the soul or the spirit itself.

In reality, it would seem Ms Garbo reached a point where she simply wanted a quiet life for herself but was not, by any means, some compulsive shut-in. Popular image has a momentum all its own, however, and the idea of the retiring goddess seeking complete privacy grew unabated.

The notion of being independent and the notion of being solitary – two powerful concepts. What do they really communicate if taken to an extreme definition? Some extrapolation: In a way that cannot be captured in terms as we know them, we are, in some definitive sense – utterly alone – not alone – paradoxically both. This perhaps would indicate a depth of meaning for each one, unseparable from the others, that is cosmic in scope, with a relevancy that is important to examine.That is: The proposition that the spiritual force that is primordially the individual is soley responsible for, and in some way generating, – everything it experiences. It is “alone.” In contradiction, we are together – alluding to the ultimate conclusion that everything is together. Going further, everything is one thing or part of the same thing, which is, well, the same thing. So, where would this leave us? Perhaps, partly, with the lesson that the mystery of being both concretely connected and separate is a dynamic, transcendant balance. The fact of our uniqueness and the fact of our togetherness must be blended into one motion. This, in theory, could empower the individual with an operating perspective that more closely reflects the truth of what is going on beneath the surface – than the conclusion of an unattached, fragmented world and universe. You are alone. You are not alone.