Down at the creek, there is some sweet flower, but I can't see it. Maybe it's in the treetops, that's where the action is in the forest. When I think about this I always remember the scene in the hobbit when Bilbo climbs out of Mirkwood, climbs to the top of a tree and sees the sun for the first time in weeks and the whole canopy of the forest is covered with beautiful spooky purple-black butterflies. Who knows what is going on up there? As I walk along the creek I come to a thick broken vine that is hanging out of an Alder tree like a fireman’s pole going to nowhere.
I am thinking about uncertainty now.
That's what I'm teaching tomorrow, and the day after that. In some ways, it feels like what I'm living every day: this presidency. This falling apart time of our world. This excruciating sensation of not knowing how it gets better.
The class I'm teaching is following the hero’s journey, Joseph Campbell's description of the basic structure of story across cultures and over time. I'm combining it with what I know about myth, and magic, and the way humans need to see each other and be seen. I am both making it up as I go and not making it up as I go. I've been here before. I've never been here in my life.
But here, this place in my life right now, it's pretty sweet. It might be true that I am in the return part of the journey. It might be true that facing my terror of having no money and losing my house in order to change my life and career was the ordeal, the turning point at the heart of the journey. It might be true that coming out of the broom closet, and being a whole person in my work was that. These things might be true… and I might be fooling myself that I am returning, That the descent is over and I’m on my way home. I have done that before too. Maybe these are the tests and the gifts that prepare me for something else, something deeper.
I know that it never ends, anyway. And I know a little bit about how I survive uncertainty: I write, I sweat, I drink a lot of water, I receive support. I plant seeds in early summer as I did today: sweet peas and sunflowers, cosmos and nasturtiums. I cut the roses and the mock orange and I bring them indoors because I know that beauty is one of my best tools against despair. And I write, and I sweat, and I drink water, and I receive support. I go to the creek where I can touch the wild. I go to work and I try to feel the presence of it in the room and I open the door, say come in, say there are gifts here, this is our best friend in uncertainty.