Monday, November 19, 2007

The Heart of the Labyrinth & Other Tales


The willingness to suffer the “betwixt and between” state prepares the soul to leap to a new ground of being. Such a leap connects inner and outer, spirit and body, and makes “mythic sense” when nothing else makes any sense. — Michael Meade
Initiation of a Hybrid. A few Friday evenings ago I was driving Jenifer to her new yoga with live music class, we were yammering about the future, and then it happened. A deer hit us. We saw its face flash in the window, felt the impact, and pulled over.

Amazingly, the Prius suffered only minimal damage, by which I mean approximately $1355's worth, nothing you'd notice if you weren't looking for it. The strangest thing is that the contact wasn’t violent. It wasn’t upsetting. If anything, it felt as if we were hit with a blast of positive energy, a bolt of nature. A mysterious gift.

We returned to the site of the contact, but the deer was gone. I’ll never know if it lived.

Kicking and Screaming Into the Digital Age. Jenifer tricked me. She picked me up from work, and then turned left onto Swedesford instead of right. “Where are you taking me?” “Just relax and go along for the ride.” “Why are we going to the mall?” “I’m getting a new phone.”

Flash forward 30 minutes later and I have a new cell phone of my very own. How did this happen? I had no specific goals of über-Luddiosity, but something in me was quite pleased that I had stayed out of the network this long. And now, at one very simple word — “free” — I succumbed.

This Strike. So there’s this writers’ strike. And so those coworkers who know of my extra-corporate agenda approach me on a near-daily basis and tell me this. Some ask about it, but most want me to know that there is, in fact, a strike, and it is happening now. What this really means is that there are lots of reruns and no Leno and what am I going to do about it?

So we talk about it, and they seem to get that, until things fundamentally change, as a professional screenwriter I’ll be accorded the same relative status the professional documentalist is in the IT world. Which is to say: hidden.

What they don’t always get is that darn near everything on a screen, whether it fits in your pocket or occupies a wall in your house, is written. By somebody. And then I think about being eight years old and reading Alan Arnold’s Once Upon a Galaxy: A Journal of The Making of The Empire Strikes Back. I try to do this after they’ve left my cubicle.

The Heart of the Labyrinth. All summer I wanted to see a shooting star. It was a goal of sorts. I’d been taking a fair number of night walks to settle down after late writing sessions. Recently I was out and so were the stars and the wind, and a startled Schnauzer barking out of obligation. The trees were still orange, rustling like brittle rain whispering greetings.

The light pollution is always high, but the houses are flat and sky is wide, and the atmosphere itself seemed to billow out of the cooling towers my town is known for. The leaves and stars took me back to Jenifer’s yoga retreat, with its perfect weather and fast friendships borne of common purpose. Even Odin was there, the Norwegian Elkhound we fell in love with when we first scouted the location. Odin is aptly named, the “stirrer to fury” who one moment races through the retreat center at top speed, the next calmly snuggles, and then the next shares his stuffed orangutan with an unsuspecting playmate.

The high point of the weekend was the labyrinth we walked Saturday night. Candles in hand, we processed to the site, a flat space cleared before the forest. With the silent intelligence of bees, or geese, we lit the eight-circuit path, placing cups of light every few stones. And then, without a word of instruction, Jenifer stepped onto the path. I watched the others. They hesitated. Invariably, people want to know how to walk a labyrinth. They want the rules, or the correct technique, or the secret key that will unlock the mystery within. They want a sign, when all they need to do is place one foot in front of the other.

I followed, and then the slow trickle of footsteps began. All the usual human drives and intensities were immediately present in our instant community of spirals and light. Some pushed, moving too fast, others dawdled, but each of these movements, like the thoughts in meditation, were observed and let go. We walked in silence, together yet singly, weaving our way ever inward to a place of inner and outer stillness. With each foot planted on the damp mulch, each breath taken in, we drew nearer to that state of blissful emptiness. Not a stasis, but a vibrant intensity, the sustained charge of a fierce and lasting hug. Grace. I thought of our rabbit, who spent much of his blessed life in this illuminated realm.

At last I entered the heart of the labyrinth, and looked up, and saw — an orange streak of star shooting across the moon.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Eric said...

"Invariably, people want to know how to walk a labyrinth. They want the rules, or the correct technique, or the secret key that will unlock the mystery within. They want a sign, when all they need to do is place one foot in front of the other."

Love this. You've said perfectly what I was trying to communicate (to you and others) throughout my late 20s.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Thomas Crymes said...

I'm having trouble finding the labyrinth. Can someone direct me?

12:16 PM  
Blogger Ryan Rasmussen said...

Stay put and I'll transmit the coordinates to you through the Amazing Power of Technology!

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deer...... so gentle and loving you are.

The flower of kindness,
an embrace from afar.

4:25 PM  

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