At the Heart of Bewilderment
In ironies of ironies, I’m beginning to bring a more systematic sensibility to my current fascinations with bewilderment, immersed in my sabbatical months as I am. Much has bewildered me in these last days, weeks, after all.
I went on the cruise of a lifetime, with the man that I love, and spent the first 3-4 days in an incredibly discomforting bewilderment. How do I relax when I’m not writing? Is it okay for my increasingly fit body to let it all go for a while, saying yes to all manners of food, drink, performances, walkabouts? Why am I so disoriented and even sad on vacation? (Blessedly, this bewilderment was momentary in the body, which did enter in fully…even if my mind is percolating still…)
Closer to home, I’m entering into a more conscious time of hermitage, uncertain of purpose or direction, except to show up at the page and allow the sabbatical project writing to take the rough, first-draft shapes that I show no one. Previous renditions of myself have experienced a terror of disconnection from others in periods like this, if lasting more than a few days. Strangely, I feel more companioned and connected than I ever imagined it possible for me to be, to feel.
So the question begins to knock at my door…What is the gift of wildness, or the Wild, at the heart of bewilderment?
The systematic review of the voices that have shaped my thinking these last nearly ten years, or even longer, give some preliminary contours. Susan Griffin offers a poetic tour de force for re-encountering the roar of Nature within the Roar of the Feminine (Woman and Nature). It’s an experience of the wildness within me, more than any description or definition of ‘the Wild.’ Clarissa Pinkola Estes and Robert Bly bring us into a more genderized consideration of the Wild, animating the Wild Woman (archetype) and the Wild Man. Both consider the Wild to be a knock on the doors of the deepest psyche, the nourishing dark, even if the obstacles and doorways differ, given the diverse experiences of human beings in a world that assigns gender from the start. Bill Plotkin urges us into Wild Mind, or a reconsideration of who we are as human beings, made so not by human beings alone. What I value most in his view, at least so far, is that he states explicitly that healthy human beings and healthy mature cultures are rooted in Love, even if each facet expresses this Love in its particular gifting. Learning to love, and be loved, by all sentience and more.
For my part, I’m impressed by how fully the Wild, at the heart of bewilderment, requires the human heart to risk, to fear, to walk the path in a completely unknowing fashion. For all of us, however we identify, the path truly is made by walking.
When will we ever learn the skills by which we live like that?
Sabbatical project-writing begins…