I crack it open, this book that I no longer remember where I first heard of it, perhaps on NPR, perhaps not. I only know that it exists in the after time, the rift that I realize now will never be healed. I lost the name of the author, the title of the book, and without either, there is truly no way to find such a thing in the search engines of bookstores. Like this science fiction book I once read: Woman on an expedition to another planet, loses her oxygen suit and is saved by aliens who have the ability to adjust her physical body to their allergens, her partner is not so lucky and when she returns to the human world she is forever altered. I wish I could just remember this other book though that sounded intriguing and then by some accident, it comes to me and I add it to my list, which remains unread for some period of time. There is a certain joy in opening a library book, the crackle of the cellophane cover, the smell of other people on the pages, their squashed bugs, the smell of their bathwater and their perfume, and the red splash of spaghetti sauce they were eating while they held their book behind their bowl with the non dominant hand.
“The things we want are transformative, and we don’t know or only think we know what is on the other side of that transformation. Love, wisdom, grace, inspiration–how do you go about finding these things that are in some ways about extending the boundaries of the self into unknown territory, about becoming someone else?” A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
I am not, as I wander in this valley, sometimes the cut is so deep I find myself cold and huddled in the darkness, there seems no way out. A friend by in the way of six degrees of separation calls the beginning of this rift his box of shame, but I am stuck in this rift, in this darkness. And yet somehow the darkness is a relief from having to be bright. Do I choose the yellow and sunshine and the cheerful way of the flighted, or do I choose this damp cavern of sorrow? I say there is this endless quest for meaning but all the philosophy on planet earth can not delve into the darkest depths of this human despair. I frame it properly, I tell the history, I tell the insanity of my thinking, the magic that I find imbued in the journey, he understands this magic in his pagan mind. The philosophy, he says, isn’t meant to though, to delve into that despair. Instead, he says, it addresses those depths of true meaning and then walks away. I want quit of it, but deep down, I know that it is more meaningful than the veneer of joyfulness than the frame of its all good this frame of perpetual happiness, for I cannot feel true joy without this riverbed carved from the rock of my being, this valley of my soul, gully in some places. It has been carved with a flood gate of tears. And like a lady slipper in the forest, the smallest patch of sunlight brings the greatest gift of beauty to me. And my goddess how gloriously beautiful it can be.
“It is precisely because we resist the darkness in ourselves that we miss the depths of the loveliness, beauty, brilliance, creativity, and joy that lie at our core.” Thomas Moore
I sit on the steps in the sunlight, arms sore from raking, and I tell the constant yammering of my inner voice to be still now. It fades to the background and I realize without thinking it, that there is something to be said for acknowledging and embracing this darkness. Yes, I am broken, yes I feel I will never recover from this, yes, I still ache in the darkness, and also in the light. But this is no shallow pool, it is a crystalline feature of who I am. I revel now in being lost or of not being, or the transformation of my self, this is who I was once, but that ended so abruptly, and was never reopened, well at least by him, mine is still gaping, I scratch at the scab, it bleeds, the stitches so carefully sewn tear, and it is rent open again. I am lost to this thing which caused my befores and afters. And as I read I recall that day when I was lost in the Adirondacks, not even my dog by my side. How I cried, and felt not sorrow for myself, but fear for my daughter alone, and how I carefully walked back until I found the trail sign, on the ground and took the right path instead of the left. Oh I know lost.
My moral compass led me in the right direction, I have integrity we have already established this. I know that not everyone can say the same. I suppose there must be something though that carries them through their journies, something I cannot or maybe will not comprehend. I ask, is this a sign? My friend of six degrees says, maybe it is just location, location, location. And in this case, the location is a thousand miles from home their own heated separtion. And yet I am home, I just don’t trust that the hearth will warm me, nor that the fire will stay lit.
How can I when I am shivering here, shivering so in the dark and the damp.
I must light my own fire.
I know the answer at least, that I can lit my own fire, and that the damp and darkness matter only in relation to the light and warmth of my own hearth.
In the immortal words of my hero, Tim Gunn, “Carry On”. “Make It Work”.