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.
Tuesday, 19 November 2013
I can't speak for men, but most women – I'd say all women, whether or not they know it – have a deep need to return home, now and then, or maybe frequently.
By 'home' I don't mean a house – though that may also be where one needs to go. I mean time out, purely for oneself, back to one's soul-place, which might (also) be an outer location but is always, always, an inner one. It's wherever we know ourselves to be whole, complete, joy-filled, at peace. It usually though not always requires solitude.
This is putting on the sealskin – I spoke of that the other day, here. We need to be able to dip our cups in the well, to shrug off our responsibilities to others, to undomesticate ourselves. This is especially important for those women who are sensitive, natural carers, and creative, perhaps, especially if they are 'out there'; and if you are also one of those many women whose attention is naturally 'diffuse' rather than focused, it's especially important. (According to Jungian J S Bolen these women, even if they're alone in their room eg writing, find it hard to tune all of their consciousness to what they're doing, being perpetually aware of significant others even if those others are quiet and absorbed in something of their own.)
Many women find it hard to 'justify' this kind of time out, especially if they work/are in relationship/have dependents. Thing is, it's essential; particularly if you work/are in relationship/have dependents. Indispensable. I know this, coming from complete burnout due to overwork (albeit in work I love), over-commitment to others and causes and campaigns, and six years in which I tried to look after too many other people, sick people, when I hadn't the resources to do so (on top of many years of being a single parent working very long hours on a low income). In fact, I barely had the resources to look after myself, and my heart ended up paying the price – literally, but what a wonderful metaphor.
Now I find that my 'homing' this last year has taken me over and over into silence and solitude, and usually into wildish places, physical places that can allow my soul the immersion it needs: most especially and frequently the sea, and almost always into the company of animals. I've taken notice and gone; and I have the kindest sweetest friends who, one way or another, have enabled me to do this.
That's another thing: soul-friends (and I've written about this elsewhere on this blog too).
And, this time, excitingly, I have the stirrings of a new book; I've barely caught sight of its tail, yet, but I've glimpsed it, tantalisingly, disappearing into the trees now and then... That's another reason why I'm here: I can't easily approach it in a domestic context.
I notice people's reactions to my doing this (going off alone, I mean). I live frugally, and when I go off it barely costs me anything, and I usually take some work with me (usually my own creative work rather than the tutoring and mentoring I also do – and love). But I notice how envious people are, and how they comment on the fact that it's not the first time this year I've done that, and what about my partner – and I notice how I read this almost as a criticism in our driven achievement-oriented co-dependent culture. And this year, I'm clearly not stressed enough!
It's hard even for TM – who never criticises my motivation or 'time out' as such – to understand why I need to go elsewhere when we live where we do, in a secluded and beautiful very quiet spot; and as he points out to me I have my own working space and he's hardly a noisy or demanding man. But go I need to; sea and silence and solitude are, I discover, non-negotiable. I tell him gently, and I tell him it's not about escaping him but about finding myself again – without domestic routines, phone calls, Stuff To Do.
And, as someone who's been over-responsible all my life, this is a major step forward. I recommend it. In fact, I request that you too try it, if you don't already.
Here's Clarissa Pinkola Estes: 'If a woman absolutely values her going-home cycles, those around her will also learn to value them... For some, being in a room with the door closed, but still being accessible to others, is a fine return to home. For others, though, the place from which to dive to home needs to be without even a tiny interruption... For this woman, the inlet to her deep home is evoked by silence... Utter Silence, with a capital U and a capital S. For her, the sound of wind through a great loom of trees is silence. For her, the crash of a mountain stream is silence. For her, thunder is silence. For her, the natural order of nature, which asks nothing in return, is her life-giving silence...'
From here, the far west, in the utter silence of sea and wind, I raise a glass of solitude to you, sisters – and brothers, too...
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