from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Monday 1 October 2012

the dark forest

The path at first is wide, curving gently onwards to an unseen horizon that promises more of everything easy: joy, love, belonging... There are many branches and meanders, and mostly it's sunny. Sometimes rain comes in, makes the cobbles glisten; sometimes the wind keens in the trees like winter's voice, but soon enough the sun slides in again.

Eventually, of course, as in any fairy tale, we start to notice the far-off forest. On the horizon it's merely a shimmer, a shadowy mirage that maybe spells trees, and coolness.

One day, inevitably, it's a little closer; and then closer still. And now, frighteningly, the path fades out. Oh, how we party then, faces averted, looking back like Lot's wife to the sunny valleys and lush plains.

And again inevitably, later if not sooner, we arrive at where we had always been going by doing what we habitually do.

'Let us not speak falsely / For the hour is getting late', my friend Brian reminds me, from Bob Dylan's 'All Along the Watchtower'.

And here is where the journey starts.

When our lives become too small, or our lies about who we are (whether to ourselves or to others) no longer hold, when we can no longer pretend we like what we don't, be what others wish or expect us to be, when can no longer live without what we need – in other words, take false trails (and who doesn't?), or stay with ones that merely lead in circles – then we will arrive at the very edge of the forest.

We're scared. What to do with a forest, a wilderness, when we fear it, or don't understand it? We torch it, we chop it down, we sell it off; or maybe we pretend, for as long as we can, that we haven't seen it, and turn back the way we came.

But actually there's only one way to deal with a dark forest, and that is to make a trail for ourselves, make our own way through it. We can look for an animal of the night, an owl or a fox, to guide us. We can put out a call to Those Who've Gone Before. But we still need to do it for ourselves. This is what makes us heroic; and how eventually we earn our own lives – to live rather than merely survive.

And the gift is that there in the heart of the dark forest is the treasure: the pure gold of our own soul.


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  1. Yes.
    That is why I have chosen to live the way I do now, why in the end it was both hard and easy to walk away from something I had spent 10 years working for.

  2. Jinny, thank you. I often think of you on that narrowboat, living in beauty :-). I really hope you're still writing - your poetry and prose are both exceptional. Rx

    1. Wow. Thankyou!Yes, still writing. Or rather writing again! And blogging at Jx


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