The muffled flapping of wings…something caged…bound and held…jailed in fearful waiting. Deep things…they simmer…rippling ever nearer the surface…threatening to break the deceptive placidity. Cold things that shiver and quake…subtle chills that aren’t eased by layers of cloth and feathers. Grim things…they skulk in the shadows…whispering of past blunders…luring me towards their perilous edge…like witch's apple and gingerbread house.
Clumsily navigating the landscape of this soul...lilting…side-winding like sloppy drunkard sway. Clutter edging closer…encroaching upon center like frost on window. Haphazard piles, like garage sale refuse, reveal the inner disarray that slowly undoes me. The questions this heart avoids lay strewn ‘round my room…collecting themselves in corners…draping themselves over chairs and doorknobs…lurking behind curtains…aligning themselves with the wrinkles in my sheets. Unspoken anxiety laughs aloud from the inside of drawers full of crumpled, half-heartedly folded clothing…from beneath the many piles of laundry that flank my laundry bin…from betwixt the boxes and bags of two-year-old discord, closed over, zipped up, ignored in a flurry of pre-travel mayhem.
What unruly imp has taken over? What irresponsible lout oversees the care of such details? At some point, I relinquished control…or lost it. Somewhere between ‘I Do’ and ‘I Don’t’ I unraveled…and, like balls of yarn left unchecked in attic boxes, the strands of me wound themselves into hopelessly tangled masses...hard enough to unwind…trickier still to REwind. The years have acted as spinsters at their looms, adding lengths to each thread that binds…they’ll not stop simply because my ability to weave has yet to match their proliferation.
This jumbled chaos of longing and resignation…calm sorrow…delicate hope ensnared upon the wreckage of yesterday’s dreams. The strands bleed into one another…weaving under and over through heaps of sentiments, becoming so knotted and tightly wrapped that recognizing differences becomes increasingly onerous. Identifying emotions overwhelms…such vague distinctions between…such subtle variance. Hope and despair tug the same lines, squeezing heart space with the same force...rendering it even more difficult to untwine.
All this tangled ‘self’ness…it must be addressed. This heart is edging ever nearer that confrontation. Yet I feel my avoidance like an unwelcome glare, staring me down from behind my computer…from inside its illusory depths…from the underside of my borrowed bed. I have these blissful moments of forgetfulness…brilliant specs of distraction that soften the impact of that piercing, accusatory stare…delicious delays that keep me from sitting with all this mental clutter and finding, once and for all, a definable point from which to begin the tricky business of untangling ‘me'...unwinding the silence...unclothing the emptiness to let it breathe in all its glaring nakedness.
What might it be that frightens me into such unhealthy paralysis? What might I find within all these tangled clusters? Something ancient is woven there…something wicked and dark and unsettling. Something older than me that rode into this life on the currents of my umbilical cord…that stowed itself away in the newly forming cells of my mother…that braided itself into the newborn hairs of my grandmother. This darkness precedes me…surely…for one life is too small to cast shadows so dense and tall. The demons that plague me still…the dreary inside that absorbs light like heat-hungry metal…the unseen cracks that betray, breaking the rungs of ladders and shattering glass…these unspeakable things pull against me with each unfolding of a thread. With each freeing of a knot, the rascals pull tighter the other end of my ropes. So determined are they, it would seem, that each minor victory is summarily surpassed by the tightening of old constraints. Cackles mock me from darkened folds…as though the gloom has won.
Yet……and yet……something lighter…some subtle twinkle, like distant sun shimmer…glows still at my core. Also ancient…piggybacking the shadows, it rode in on the same, ancestral stream. Though it may feel dim and weak, its brilliance persists at the very center of all that is…all that I am. The shadows creep in corners…encircling and bleeding in…but they will never overtake that central glimmer. Its primal light cannot be extinguished. They may threaten like thieves in blackened alleyways…they may intimidate with their constrictive squeeze and snare…but they will only ever occupy my periphery. Persistent though they may be…their victories are shallow and short-lived...their jeers only heard when I allow them to be.
Therein lies my conundrum. For…I know that the rampant, vacuous shadows can only draw me into their depths if I let them. They compromise my hard won levity, only if I permit them to do so. And that is what makes it all the more unnerving. I can no longer point fingers of blame at anyone outside these human walls…knowing, without question, that these ancient knots were tied by some part of me…that the shadows and light fill rooms in a house built by previous ‘selves’…the tenuous foundations laid through lifetimes of victories and mistakes. The hauntings I am plagued by are simply the ghosts of those former selves that cling still to their unsettled affairs…remnants of which dwell in my very bones. I may recognize them as simultaneously ‘me’ and ‘not me’, but still their lamentations echo in my voice. The dust of their disappointment still lingers on my skin.
Right then...time to bring out the broom and scissors. I've got some spring cleaning to do...