A living hell, a deathly life, a zombie life, despair, crushing loneliness, crippling insecurities, doubts, fears, lack of enjoyment. These terrible phrases can all be used to describe some of the places we visit on our journey through life. With a bit of luck and a lot of grace, mercy and kindness, we can encounter these places as visits, rather than destinations.
To the visitor, it can appear like a destination though. That is the nature of it and that is why I love poetry, stories and art that are both honest and hopeful. There is art that is simply dark and then there is art that lets the light in. There is art that simply make us feel less lonely; a vulnerable piece of a stranger’s soul that touches ours.
Of course, art is not the only way for finding and releasing drops of light that can be signposts to searching souls. The further we walk on our own journey of increasing freedom from and victory over the places in the above list the more we give off light and hope by being just who we are. It is this freedom, this permission we have found to be ourselves that can give others the permission to discover who they are and just be that, happily and confidently. Namaste.
I experience life mostly as a continuous journey with threads all connected to each other. There appears to be a process of growth and discovery that is gradual, like an evolution. Every now and then there are before and after experiences. Sometimes it is only in retrospect that I recognize these, as with the signpost that made me a marathon runner. A trip to the loo. There was life before Tobias Mews’ book and life after. Funnily enough, the first marathon I ran as a consequence of reading that book, has already become one of these. There was me before Snowdonia and now there is an evolved/changed/more revealed me after Snowdonia. Hopefully I will be able to carry this newfound confidence and creative flow with me for a while. Even if not, I am going with the flow and enjoying the season. Recently I came across a saying that seems to be wise: Seasons come and go, do not try to stretch a season into a lifetime.
So, encouraged by my experiences in Llanberis, North Wales, I decided to read a bit more poetry. I stumbled upon a wonderful little book. It is a collection of poems by Leonard Cohen and it is called ‘book of longing’. I was moved by one of his poems to the point where I had to share it with a friend, who responded with the following question: “Is that a description of hell?” Well, I think it is. I recognized it, so I must have had at least tastes of the place. But now life tastes rather differently and I feel like I’ve escaped a dark place. I also recognized it in empathy to the pain I see and sometimes feel in the world around me. This is why I will write and do whatever else is necessary to contribute to the light. See my earlier blog on Voice.
I will share the poem by Leonard Cohen here:
I was doing something
I don’t remember what
I was standing in a place
I don’t remember where
I was waiting for someone
but I don’t remember who
It was before or it was after
I don’t remember when
And suddenly or gradually
I was removed, I was taken
to this place of reversal
and I was seperated
and in the place of every part
there was the name of fear
and for a vast memorial
there was the name of grief
If you know the prayer
for one who has been so dislocated
please say it or sing it
and if there is among the words
an empty space, or among the letters
an orchard of return
please set my name firmly there
with a voice or hand
which only you command
you righteous ones
who are concerned with such matters
But hurry please
for all the parts of me
that gathered briefly around this plea
are dispersed again
and scattered on the Other Side
where the angles stand upside down
and everything is covered with dust
and everyone burns with shame
and no one is allowed to cry out
(bold my own addition)
Those last two lines sums it up: Shame and Silence. Shame keeps one silent and Silence gives room for shame to grow.
So in my own words to myself and others, I write, I shout! In the darkness I screamed and prayed, sometimes whimpered… it was mostly, ‘God, help!’ or ‘Jesus!’
To every creative heart
to every silenced voice in word or song
to every ignored child
Speak, sing, write, paint
Scream if you must
Dance, Run free, dream
Let your voice be heard
Let your heart be seen
Heal you heart
Find your voice
Make yourself heard
you, humanity and the earth
needs you to play your part!
Be encouraged today by your own uniqueness and beauty.