Thursday, March 10, 2016

Come On Pilgrim

Come on, pilgrim, won’t you stay the road?
Put that distance from your mind,
Don’t you let it show
Well, it’s just a ride, and I’m at your side
If you didn’t know
Come on, pilgrim, won’t you stay the road?

- Glen Hansard, "Stay The Road"

* * *

The hardest thing to remember is that no feeling is final; the hardest thing to remember is how far you've come and not how far you've yet to go; the hardest thing to remember is that small, terribly small steps are steps nonetheless and are harder won than the sudden great stride. The hardest thing to remember is you are not alone.

Baby, this I know.

* * *

Doubt is the easiest response to trial because it fits a narrative that somehow our brokenness, our struggle, the unique, completely personal story of how we got here is out of step with the surrounding story, the expected story, the story of "thou shall" and "thou shall not," the story that takes the cracks and wounds of your life and turns them into judgments against you. Ah, fuck me, doubt turns your story against yourself. That just cannot be, love. That just cannot be. The road you've come, every step upon it–the difficult and painful ones, the easy and joyous ones, the bored and tedious ones–these are the very heart of your existence and to let doubt (seeded by others) rob you of one moment is to cede your chance to know what it was like to live out the fullness of being you.

Except it can be withering out there. Quitting the road for a bit of shelter is a powerful call. I get that. I get that, and if you have to do it, if you have to let up and come in for a while, well, you do as you need. I'll be here waiting for you should you want to try again. So will every singer, every poet, every artist, every dancer, every writer, every friend, every true love, every soul that has passed this way, passed through their trial and found solace in the presence of another to keep their feet moving.

The sum of all wisdom is: keep your feet moving.
The sum of all love is: Come on, pilgrim, won't you stay the road?

* * *

My beloved said this to me: "There are days when our cracks are turned just so, faced just so that it lets in the doubt and anger of others and so we come to doubt ourselves. And other days the angle is wrong and all the doubt and anger in the world just rolls off our backs." No one is immune to this. No one can walk their road without this being part of it: you cannot carry it all perfectly and to think otherwise is to keep you fucked and stuck. They say bones are stronger at the break, that once healed it is stronger than it was before. Lovely metaphor, no? Except we're not bones alone. There are times, there will be times when you'll be staggered by doubt or loss or fear or any of the trials a person can face. Having traveled a bit of road is no promise the road ahead will somehow be easy. All that you get is the experience of having gone this far, and look, love, if you have made it this far, you can make it a bit further. This much is promised: the road changes, but only if you keep moving.

The singers and writers and poets and artists I've littered this place with for the past five years are the ones who kept me on the road and allowed me to survive the days when my cracks let in the sins of anger and fear from others. But that is just how I managed it. You, you have your own saints and traveling companions and you must, you must, you must lean on them when the days are hard, when the small step is worth a hundred miles. No one does this alone. I have a tendency to solitude and yet I cannot do this alone. None of us can. It is a catastrophe of spirit to assume you could.

From my friend John Donne:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee. 

We are bound to each other through the fact of our existence.  If we are lucky we carry this knowledge lightly and give it freely as needs be.

* * *

The hardest thing to remember is no feeling is final. Even in death, out past death, far beyond life and death, no feeling is final, but is renewed by the next pilgrim to hit the road. The road is littered with the doings of the pilgrims who came before and gave what they could give and those doings are made to live again in the memory and doings of those alive now. Now it is your turn to do for others what others have given to you.

Stay the road, love. Stay the road. You have no idea how important that will be to someone you'll never know.

* * *

I wish you well.


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