Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wholly Strange and New - Post Sixteen

Wholly Strange and New by Bridget Pilloud

When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name;—— the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Can you remember a moment in your life when you had life in yourself and it was wholly strange and new? Can you remember the moment when you stopped walking a path of someone else, and started cutting your own?

Write about that moment. And if you haven’t experienced it yet, let the miracle play out in your mind’s eye and write about that moment in your future.

Being strange and new makes you an outsider.  I remember once, in a business meeting, there were talks about our current boss and how we had to rip the carpet out from under his feet by striking the next day.  And while everyone was merging together on this idea I stood up and talked about how our boss had sacrificed all of his life savings, how he was working harder and longer hours than all of us, how we had agreed to help him at the beginning when the dream was still believable and now, when things looked bleak, we would totally destroy him by walking out on him. It was a moment when I stood clear and alone and was speaking from a place that had nothing to do with money or safety but with the clear thought that if we truly disbanded he, personally, would never recover. 

There is a lot of talk of glory and independence with 'strange and new' but it often leaves you gutted emotionally.  Not many people can take it. 

It reminds me of T.S. Eliot's  Journey of the Magi

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times when we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities dirty and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wineskins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.


Rich P. said...

The thing I love about your shared experience is that you went with what your heart was telling you was "right," regardless of the circumstances that might arise. I feel that the courage it takes and the exhaustion one might feel is the "shedding of the old skin," and not being certain what one might see underneath. That, to me, is the scary part.

thecatalanway said...

that's lovely Tiffany - I love your telling of the experience of standing alone and how that can be hard - but look how it is still with you as a strong moment. and the poem - reading it again with new interest. thank you K x