It’s 5am, and I’ve been out of bed since 4:27am. This, after staring at the clock since 4:13am, hoping that I’d drop back to sleep. This, after finally dropping into sleep around 1:13am. Story of my whole week, as my sleep’s been downright lousy. Likely due to changes in my pregnant body again, with my body temperature being elevated, the Tadpole moving more, and not being able to sleep in my usual and comfortable sleeping positions (on my stomach and flat on my back).
But in waking up when the whole world is dark and asleep around me, my brain, suspectible to the squirrels in my head, starts racing with thoughts thoughts thoughts. Selfish thoughts, unselfish thoughts; rational thoughts, romantic thoughts; practical thoughts, idealistic thoughts. Run run run. My heart starts racing, almost like it’s trying to keep up with the squirrels in my head, and I think of this Housman poem, from _Last Poems_, Poem XII:
The laws of God, the laws of man
He may keep that will and can
Not I: Let God and man decree
Laws for themselves and not for me;
And if my ways are not as theirs
Let them mind their own affairs.
Their deeds I judge and most condemn
Yet when did I make laws for them?
Please yourselves, say I, and they
Need only look the other way.
But no, they will not; they must still
Wrest their neighbor to their will,
And make me dance as they desire
With jail and gallows and hellfire
And how am I to face the odds
Of man’s bedevilment and God’s?
I, a stranger and afraid
In a world I never made
They will be master, right or wrong;
Though, both are foolish, both are strong
And since, my soul, we cannot flee
To Saturn or to Mercury
Keep we must, if we can
These foreign laws of God and man.
In moments between day and night, I often feel like a stranger in a strange land. It’s something that’s been with me since I was a little girl, waking up in that limbo and wondering if what I was seeing, where I was, who I was, was real or not. Stripped from societal concerns, I feel, for just a split second, absolutely and utterly free — but then the squirrels come, grounding me back to reality, to the net of time and space. Time — that inevitable runaway train — starts again, and my heart beat races, just to keep up with the cadence.
We are born alone, but we do not live our lives alone. We are not meant to live our lives alone, but in community, helping each other along the path of our individual lives, sometimes criss-crossing other paths. But at the end, we arrive as we begun, alone, but with hopes that the empty cases of our memories have been transcribed and illuminated with the stories of those we have crossed and walked with along our way to our inevitable death.
But it’s a path with no road map, with no set directions, although in a landscape often beyond our control, with laws and mores made well before we were ever born. And trying to make our path in that landscape, for some it is easier than others.
For me, sometimes it feels easy… but often it does not, and that sensation of feeling lost is a familiar companion.
Maybe that’s why I like travelling, driving, wandering so much: a physical manifestation of something I often feel in my soul, inchoate and indescribable.
Maybe that’s why I write and talk so much: finding words to describe this thing in my soul, that makes me pause in the path of my life when I feel I’ve lost direction, when I feel the detailed map that I thought I had in hand suddenly becomes nothing more than a scrap of paper with uncipherable codes that mean nothing to me.
What moors us to our path is our connections to people, connections that make our path, connections that help us find direction. But sometimes those connections get us lost, go down a wrong path, a dead end, a cul de sac… but how are we to know if we are in a dead end until we reach our destination? And how do we turn around? And how do we recognize the right path when we reach it, if at all?
These are not rhetorical questions for me.
Aye, I think too much. I feel too much. I dream too much. When I open my mouth, I talk too much… unless what I think, feel, and dream is too much, even for words. But without words, where will I be? How can I connect?
And who will listen?
Another poem, but this is one of mine:
A wan sun breaks through the ashclouds.
In pale streams, God-light illuminates the swinging ash and inscribes
lines upon the land, I trace these lines, as I desire to be a part of the light.
I know — it is folly. I cast shadow where there should be light,
interrupting the speed of light’s journey from the impersonal sky to the
sleeping land. I do not mean to destroy, I do not mean —
I do not know what I mean. In ash-softened steps I
stumble back and let the God-light be.
Grey arms clasped around a grey body, I must learn to let it be.
Let it be.
The wan sun disappears behind the ashclouds, and the lines wink out,
a mirage of hope, a dream of light.
I am sorry, my footsteps say. I am sorry.