Asked & Answered
“What is the meaning of this life? Why is it so fucking hard? Why is it that when something good happens, something bad comes along to wipe it off?”
The times I write the most – when I write the hardest, the most eloquently and fiercely and fervently – are the times of greatest personal turmoil. The words come easier when I am lost in the woods in the deepest, darkest night, the kind with no moon and only a smattering of stars to light the way; the kind of night that breeds timeless tales, grim and sparse and gray, stories sung around fires and whispered to small children with saucer eyes and the thrill of adventure creeping up their spines as they try to sleep; the kind of night that makes you believe the trees have teeth and the stones have ears and the creatures whisper, whisper to each other in the wake of your passing. In that place, in those moments, all the things I want to say appear like constellations above me, even though I am a Hansel-less Gretel, with the taste of too much candy and too much fear in the back of my throat, witch-shaped shadows on the walls around me; even though I crouch in a corner and pull my red riding hood down over me, making myself small and invisible, smelling crumbled cakes and unwashed fur and dirty flannel ripping at the seams; even though there are wild wolves and black bears and faces in the leaves, I look up and up and up
……and eventually I get where I am going, whole, and safe, and sound.
We are born naked, fragile things, full of so much undiluted life that it overwhelms us in our first breath; forever seeking out a space as impervious and unassailable as our mother’s womb, we make our way out into the world, and what we find is a place so beautiful and terrible and bright that it almost hurts to look at it with our eyes wide open. We wander lost for so long, seeking out the solace of souls made up like our own, and we brush flower-tops with our fingertips and taste thunder on our tongues and we take love in and try it on for size. And then one day when we’re eight or eighteen or eighty, we stop short and lift our heads and see our stories up there in the sky, floating around unformed, and the sun shines like a divining rod onto our spirits and the epiphanies come spilling out: we were made in the murky shadows and birthed into light, and everything in between is about bringing those two together in a delicate dance, one in which we are both hunter and hunted, predator and prey, omniscient and eternally unknowing. Without the villain, there can be no hero. Without the monster, there can be no slayer. Without the clammy desperation of what we imagine to be ceaseless dark , there can be no joyful exhalation as the first rays of light run golden fingers over the distant horizon. When we swallow up that blackest night and breathe in the brightest morning, we exhale the most beautiful shades of gray, dove-colored and downy soft; existing in this place, even if for but a moment, means setting fire to the fables that don’t apply and making up our own myths as we move through life.