I want to write about my aloneness. And, I want to write about my aliveness. I am uncomfortable with this marriage and, yet, there it is. Fully formed and fully real.
I have learned through direct experience that the deeper I go into my development – the more I am willing to face – the more I am transformed; separated from the older versions of my self, stepping into a new inheritance, a new way of being in the world. The problem is, this “stepping into” isn’t at all a singular act or moment when what was unknown is now known. The transformation happens in complete darkness. Faith is required at the very moment when I have none. Dark is scary. Scary is intimidating. I want to go back.
Enter aliveness. It is the very fear of the dark, the aloneness that is paired to me like a twin, that reminds me I am wholly alive. It is in the desperation of the feeling that the transformation is not really happening, the evolution is not actually real, that I feel most aware of my own presence, my own inhabiting of the world. I never notice the air except when I cannot breathe.
I am involved in a quiet war with my coercive self. It is telling me an old story about who and what I am, attempting to drown out the new self that is emerging. The enemy says that I fight alone, that there is no help for me. And, though I am rationally aware that help is all around me (the air I breathe, for starters) it is easier to succumb to the old story of abandonment.
David Whyte’s poem Sweet Darkness captures this perfectly:
When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone,
no part of the world can find you.
Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.
There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.
The dark will be your home
The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.
Yes, I think, there is so much that is too small for me. Too small to help me become what I must become to fully live. And so I can simply leave that behind. Arriving at this comfortable conclusion I hear the poet discussing his work. He tells us that the poem cuts both ways, and asks us to confront how we may be seeing others, limiting our view of others and making them too small to bring us alive. Not fair. Not fair at all.
The challenge to me is to see more. To see the help that is there. To “live from my innocence” and believe that though shrouded in darkness the transformation is happening, is real and must be carefully midwifed into existence.