Make Life a Mythic Journey
(with apologies to “A Dialogue of Self and Soul”)
I summon to the winding ancient stair;
Set all your mind upon the steep ascent,
Upon the broken, crumbling battlement,
Upon the breathless starlit air,
Upon the star that marks the hidden pole;
Fix every wandering thought upon
That quarter where all thought is done:
Who can distinguish darkness from the soul?
Everyone carries a shadow and
the less it is embodied in
[your] conscious life,
the blacker and denser it is.
A living man is blind and drinks his drop.
What matters if the ditches are impure?
What matter if I live it all once more?
Endure that toil of growing up;
The ignominy of boyhood; the distress
Of boyhood changing into man;
The unfinished man and his pain
Brought face to face with his own clumsiness;
The inferior and even the worthless
belongs to me as my shadow
and gives me substance and mass.
How can I be substantial without
casting a shadow?
The finished man among his enemies?—
How in the name of Heaven can he escape
That defiling and disfigured shape
The mirror of malicious eyes
Casts upon his eyes until at last
He thinks that shape must be his shape?
And what’s the good of an escape
If honour find him in the wintry blast?
We carry our past with us, to wit,
the primitive and inferior man
with his desires and
it is only with an enormous effort that
we can detach ourselves from this burden.
I am content to live it all again
And yet again, if it be life to pitch
Into the frog-spawn of a blind man’s ditch,
A blind man battering blind men;
The goal of the cathartic method
is full confession—not merely
the intellectual recognition of the facts
with the head, but their confirmation
by the heart and the actual release
of suppressed emotion.
I am content to follow to its source
Every event in action or in thought;
Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot!
When such as I cast out remorse
So great a sweetness flows into the breast
We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blest by everything,
Everything we look upon is blest.
Now we are there,
everything has come out,
everything is known,
the last terror lived through
and the last tear shed;
now everything will be all right.
This holiday season give yourself the gift of forgiveness. Confess to a friend, a spouse, a priest, a rabbi and lift your shadow and let your Self glow!
Paul Marshall Wortman
December 10, 2012