Thursday, May 16, 2013

T. S. Elliot is my Homeboy

The emotional difficulties which arose from our hike weren't anything I could have foreseen.  Moreover, the reactions of both the trail community and our local community threw me for a complete loop.  It has taken a full year, but as a family we're over it.  The hike was ours, and somewhere I along the line I forgot that.  I don't know if any other hikes are going to be posted up for the world to see, or if I'm going to take the route The Barracuda has and just don't talk about it.

               I am no prophet–and here's no great matter;
              I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
             And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
            And in short, I was afraid.

Alone.  It was a hard word for me to come to terms with.  In fact, I completely buried myself in the act of hiking with the thought that somehow - if I just searched hard enough - it wouldn't be true.  Hundreds of miles later, months back home, I must surrender the fantasy:  it is.  In life, we are all alone.  Our experience is uniquely ours and no one else will ever truly get it.  We cut ourselves open trying to explain - our vulnerabilities strewn out on the table.  We talk and we bleed - grasping at anyone who we think might see our world.  This fact has haunted me for almost a year.  If I didn't let go, it was going to haunt me forever.

            And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
           The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
           And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
          When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
         Then how should I begin
         To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?                    
        And how should I presume?

All the eyes of the world which try to pigeon hole me, pigeon hole us - those who decide their version of reality is somehow better, more holy, more noble - please expound upon how fabulous your life is and how I somehow must just not get it.  Please, let me see how I've missed the point at how great being you is and how small, crazy, profane, insert-your-favorite-detestible-adjective, I must be.

         I should have been a pair of ragged claws
        Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

I've spent quite a few nights sitting up till 3 am running circles in my head.  I've spent a lot of time as an angry basket case.  However, when I look around, I'm still here with Jules on one side and The Barracuda on the other.  They are here not wanting or asking anything more than for me to return to myself.  They want me to remember and know that my little life, our little family, and the small moments which no one else seems to recognize are what make me, me.  It is enough for them, and once it was enough for me too.

                And would it have been worth it, after all,
               After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
              Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
             Would it have been worth while,                                             
            To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
           To have squeezed the universe into a ball
          To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
         To say: "I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
        Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all!"

I'm now learning to be quiet.  I'm learning to not rage against the moon or rail against society.  The Barracuda is my great teacher because knows this already.  Somewhere in him he has already decided to not be boastful, but to strive for his own sake.  Patiently he smiles.  Often he goes along with whatever some one needs to think.  Only later will he inform me that they were wrong, and drop some pearl of wisdom about life.  He has learned how pointless it is to try and please others.  For all too often, they only wish to tear you apart for their own pleasure.
          And indeed there will be time
         To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?" 

         Do I dare
        Disturb the universe?
       In a minute there is time
      For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse. 

And so I begin again.  The PCT was my giant reset button.  I traveled back to the soul murdering days of early high school quite unexpectedly, but thankfully have once again dropped out of the general population.  Our life allows us to be hermits tucked away in our tiny one room cabin way out in the woods. 

         Let us go then, you and I,
        When the evening is spread out against the sky
        Like a patient etherized upon a table;  

        To lead you to an overwhelming question. . .                              
       Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
       Let us go and make our visit. 

I don't know how many of you are still out there which wish to make a visit to quieter places tucked away in the forest, but for the moment, that is where we are residing.  We're thinking of getting bees, the orchard is going to be coming via FedEx any day now to be planted, stacks of books are being plowed through, bread rises most afternoons in the mid-day heat, blankets are on knitting needles and final stitches are being put in quilts, homeschool is kicking into full swing, and we have mountain summits we are eagerly planning.  Our life is ours again...and that feels far better than I ever could have imagined.

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