Sunday, June 29, 2014
I Have Stumbled
You can trace the tracks I made
All across the memories my heart recalls
But I'm still a refugee, won't you say a prayer for me?
'Cause sometimes even the strongest soldier falls
I'm only halfway home, I've got to journey on
To where I'll find, I'll find the things I have lost
I've come a long long road but still I've got some miles to go
I've got a wide, a wide river to cross
- Buddy Miller/Levon Helm/Roger Waters, Wide River To Cross
* * *
I've been thinking about Levon. God damn.
* * *
When the fears come stealing, when we know and know and know and know that we have fucked it all to hell, when we grind ourselves to a halt because we allowed the fear in, because we secretly believe we deserve to suffer, when we are lost in that suffering you have to remember something, something we pretend to not know, something we can't see, but something bred in the bone regardless of our willingness trust it or have faith in it. Everything depends upon recalling it, summoning it. Remember this, tattoo it on your forehead, keep it close, ink it in a book you keep beside you, paint it on your walls, do anything but know this: in the midst of your fears, at the bottom of the well, you're only half way home.
Getting lost is just the first part of the journey. Now you've got to bring it home. And when you do, you'll find all the things you've lost.
* * *
Our lives begin. Our lives end. In between is a story. No two stories are the same, though there are resonances, echoes that cross across lives known and across time with lives unknown to us save for the stories they left behind. In those echoes and rhymes we find stories that seem to fit us, fit our circumstance, speak to our trials, our fears, our needs, our joys. Our cultures reinforce those stories. Over time a few souls blur the edges of the stories, cross pollinating the root stock, and in so doing they recognize there is but one story: our lives begin, our lives end and meaning exists in the story we tell about what happens between those poles.
Dante called it the Divine Comedy; Joyce called it the monomyth; Campbell called it the Hero's Journey; I call it The River, but it is all the same. We hear our name called - not an auditory hallucination, but the pulse of the life in us demanding its expression. But we are beginners, unskilled, uncertain, afraid and we rely on the tropes, rituals and systems put in place to help us stand, to walk, to run, to take our place in the logos, the underlying sense and mystery of Life, and all is well. All that could be done has been done.
But our name is still being called, isn't it? Those systems and rituals are but training wheels for the adventure ahead. We reject. We refuse. We stumble. We stray. We get so fucking lost. And we hurt and from the hurt flows doubt and doubt sows shame for ever doubting, for ever stumbling, for ever losing our capacity to stay connected to the pulse of life in our veins.
The hero's journey is the call into unknown territory where everything you thought you knew is wiped away and you must be in the moment to survive it. Dante's dark wood where the road is wholly lost is the same. But here's the thing that is easy to forget: to complete the journey, to finish the cycle, the hero, you, must return. You have to come home with the gifts that only you can bring, the gifts that you found on the way out and on the way back.
It is a wide, wide river to cross, my best beloveds.
You're only halfway home.
* * *
To get home you have to let go of the shame of ever being lost, of not knowing a priori how all this shit works. We are supposed to stumble. We are supposed to stray. It how we learn. It is where faith - the ability to live with uncertainty - is born. This is not a religious faith, but a primordial faith in the pulse and power of the life within us: the force that through the green fuse drives the flower/Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees/Is my destroyer.
We begin. We end. We are stories. We are lost. We are found. We stumble. We stray. There is a story for each of us. It is the same story clothed in different colors: to find what you have lost you have to journey on. That's the point.
You're only half way home and we all need to hear your story so we don't feel so alone.
Now go. You've got some miles to go. It will be good to see you when you get back.
* * *
I've been thinking about Levon.