It seems I’ve tapped into something big, here in the dark of the year. Something that’s tied together with grief and shame and stories of imprisonment and fate and despair. But also bound with love and hope and joy and new possibility. It may take me weeks or months to see my way into this, and possibly through it, and all I can do today is “take the first step, the step close in,” as the poet David Whyte would say.
I was reading from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower this morning, the last book in a long, weird series of sci-fi/fantasy novels. I’m at the point where the heroes, those who remain, those who have not fallen along the way, are beginning their final journey to the Tower. As they make their way, they find, written on a wall, a message from some others they met along the journey, others with whom they shared both adventures and loss.
“Roland, Susannah,” the message said, “We are on our way! Wish us good luck! Good luck to you! May God bless you! We will never forget you!” And then, under their signatures, was an added note: “We go to seek a better world. May you find one, as well.”
“God love em,” Susannah said hoarsely. “May God love and keep ‘em all.”
“Keep-um,” said a small and rather timid voice from Roland’s heel. They looked down.
“Decided to talk again, sugarpie?” Susannah asked, but to this Oy made no reply. It was weeks before he spoke again.
As I read this now, to write it out here, the same tears that clogged my throat earlier rise to clog it again. And it’s tears I need to talk about, I think, because tears are water, and water is life, and I can know, I can feel, with tears, that I am alive, and that I will make it through, whatever “make it through” ends up meaning.
I find today that I’m exhausted with thinking. Tired of acquiring information and analysis, uninterested in argument, fed up with anger and judgment and blame. Sally has helped me, these past two weeks, to get in touch with something important: the Doom business largely bores me these days, and I can barely pay attention. I’ve got tabs open with purportedly important, wonderful essays by Paul Kingsnorth and Charles Eisenstein and Guy McPherson. I’ve got tabs open to Facebook threads I want to follow. I’ve got stacks of books to read and comment on and review. Yet I can hardly bring myself to turn the pages. I’ve got voices inside that tell me I should and I must, but the honest truth is that I’ve lost some big portion of my fascination with Doom, and the only thing that keeps me going, I think, is the fear that I’ll be left behind if I don’t keep tagging along.
The thing is, as a Doomer, I’m not sure what else to say anymore, beyond echoing the simple words of a grieving billy bumbler named Oy. And so maybe that work is done, and it’s time to scrape the sign off my door and paint a new one. We do seem to be on that final approach, though whether our Dark Tower will be extinction, transformation, evolution, or salvation I do not know. I’ve had my share of loss along the way, enough to break my heart, enough to get my attention, enough to bring me to humble knees. And really, now, all I want is to wish others good luck and tell them I’ll never forget them, to wish them godspeed and send them my love and my warm well wishes as I continue my journey. And if people call me sugarpie now and then, that would be okay too, and God keep-um.
Beyond that, I’m not sure what else to do to help. There are meals to cook and fires to build and sidewalks to shovel, and I am glad to do these things. I can see how those actions help. There are birds to converse with, and the sun and the wind to feel on my face. There are people, flesh-and-blood human beings, a few, with whom I am beginning to share the deep, life-affirming salvation of music. There are songs to sing and music to listen to and drums upon which I can pound out my heart. There’s a story half-finished, with characters hovering in extremis, waiting patiently for me to move them forward. And there are holes in my heart that need gentle tending if they’re to ever fully heal. But beyond those things, I’m not really sure how else to be of service. Perhaps it’s the trying to tag along that prevents me from simply knowing, and accepting, where I am.
There are deep questions for me to face here. Questions about work and impact and reach and audience and fame. Questions about “helping people” and “making a difference” and “serving the planet” and “following the muse,” about “marching orders” and “our work in the world” and “what are you called to do?” And I have deep, defining stories to unravel and rewrite, it seems. So I’m going to proceed slowly.
For now, enough. I’ll be back when I figure out what to say next.
I’m on my way! Wish me luck! And good luck to you!