There is a painful truth in me, the one that says I too am not perfect. The curious thing is that I love it in my friends – this humanity, this smaller piece. Yet I fear to show it, at times, to the world. I fear rejection, judgement, and this fear is a very human one born from harsher ancestral notes, when rejection from the tribe genuinely meant isolation from human society and then most probably death. It’s a childhood fear too, of laughing leprechauns, dangerously mocking spirits, of a vulnerability that allows my power to be stolen away and leaves me in unfamiliar worlds, unable to make my way home.
Perhaps a part of you shares this fear too. This life is a mystery still = how and why I ended up here is at times a gaping question in my being, and perhaps all of the above has already happened. And still I live and love and laugh. Today it is a shiny bright winter’s day and another lost child grown up is standing on the platform, his Victorian beard and folded umbrella giving him away. And so I reach out to hear the idle birdsong chatter in this electric age.
“Soviet power plus electricity,” Lenin once called the revolution. That early magic fervour of the last century – material equality and electricity – was realised in so many horrifically levelling ways, as well as jet-powered certainties. I long at times for the certainty the trees have, the simplicity of a life where the gods still allow a hearty inner peace. Indeed, I think this home we all seek in some ways. The quest for the adventure of the story, the archetypal narrative of the hero’s journey home, leads to the wonder of the fantasy novel, the brilliance of the sci-fi movie, the trials of the video games set in ancient times; and the key question to ask, perhaps, is how much these instantly mythical adventures interact with, inspire, nourish our journeys in this daily reality, this alien world in which we have been deposited.
When I was a young teen I flirted briefly with the pixelated versions of epic, and engaged with the temptation of this virtual complexity. More important, though, were the social lessons I was learning – competing for time with the joystick or keyboard. Sometimes, losing myself in the arcade world for a while. Did I come back better equipped for this world? Almost certainly not: my imagination remained a fragile, vulnerable bird; the shell of escapism did not strengthen that. I have found my way gradually back into this world, and particularly the extraordinary body-heart-mind vehicle with which I navigate my way towards you. Sometimes, I know, you keep me at bay through your own related fears. And sometimes we spy ourselves trying that one again, catch ourselves out, laugh together in this ship of fools.
Today I drank elegantly prepared tea slowly with a friend, shared my imperfect foolishness a little further, talked without distraction, embraced finally beyond the story. The power of story can lead us back, deeper in to this wildly chaotic narrative of cells, to the next step we must take, to the next emotion we must feel without blocking, without lashing out with fists or tongues. Or express deliberately with tongues that know we merely play. And then in these Yin-Yang moments there is the polarity of stillness: shape, pause, observation.
Ten thousand years of empires and plunder and artistry and genius. Ten thousand years of watching the wind blow and the trees grow and giving thanks.