Black and White

The Marmite Journal got a new follower yesterday, which spurs on some fresh activity. ☺ Always grateful that anyone pays any attention. It isn’t that I have had nothing to say, and I never make the excuse of “no time.” The pathway to a blog-post is a mysterious one. A thought arises, and I need to wait and wait to see what it becomes. Sometimes, after enough waiting, the complete thing just pours itself out and rolls around on the page, a surprisingly round egg in its newfound nest. Most often, the thought moves away and does something other than forming that egg, and I am left without sentences.

During times of great change, it’s better to be quiet. Although change inspires much thought and many ideas and opinions; although the pathways to and from multiply and proliferate rapidly; speaking is not easy. And anyway, let’s face it: The Marmite Journal isn’t exactly mainstream stuff. To ramble among these brambles with me, you’ll need to have spent some time Underground—as in Apollo’s caves. I do think it’s cool that so many people have, by the way. Hope.

The other day, on Facebook, someone said something about rebellion. A day later, someone else said it in my office. Now I hear the word all over the place. It certainly is a rebellious time. But the word conjures different things for different people, and I am curious about that. It’s what words do, right? We use a word thinking one image, and the receiver of the word translates it into another image. We think we communicate, but all we do is trigger or instigate. And that’s the way it is. Managing this is another story. Not going to bother with that one right now.

I listened to a Sounds True recording titled Divine Rebels by Caroline Myss and Andrew Harvey. Despite their loud and somewhat hectoring tone, I stayed long enough to be completely swept up by their vision. It isn’t a new vision—certainly I share it and have shared it for a while—but I am, these days, amazed, moved, and thrilled by people’s courage to say this stuff out loud. The only rebellion is the rebellion of the completely open heart. These who come to this understand, as I am beginning to understand, the absolute danger involved. And yet—have some faith—it works. Even in the corridors of the day-to-day. The word “absolute” echoes and vibrates. There is a fierce-gentle absolutism involved in this open-heart way. There’s nothing at all “weak” about that voice that shows up and yells in my face, “SAY YES!” And in the moment—that quickest, most ordinary, most evanescent moment—choosing to say “yes” is devastatingly terrifying. Much easier to bring out the guns.

Imagine saying “yes” on the biggest of world stages? Imagine the consequences? But The Marmite Journal does not do politics. Nor race. Nor gender. Remember?

Myss and Harvey speak clearly, and without fear, of “evil”—that word that has been expunged from our liberal, psychologized dictionaries. I prefer to call it “Darkness.” Evil is a word from Christianity—it brings forth the image of Satan—horned or slithering—and the notion that it can, a la Linda Blair, take us over but also be exorcised. Of Darkness—there is no exorcism. We must learn to carry it well or be subsumed.

The world seems covered in Darkness these days—men in hoods and men in masks and men with huge tanks and little drones. Deadly viruses and plastic tents. Shootings in the streets and riots in the wrong places. All against the background of slowly but too quickly melting ice, hurricanes, and oily-feathered birds. Heroes with PTSD, violently misogynistic athletes, schoolchildren with guns against a drop cloth of haves wanting even more. Darkness rolling over the mountains, oceans and plains. Can you see it?

And yet, it might be worth saying here—possibly for the first time and because when one is loudly honest about the Darkness, one must strive to be that way about its opposite—that I have been living in the Light. I mean, like completely, like really, like never before. Living with Light, in Light, for Light. There’s hardly anything else. What an admission to make, right? So totally out of character, I don’t even know what to do with myself. It shines and shines—through, around, in… Damn. Who woulda thought? It comes after what seems like a two-year grapple in my darkest corner. Coming upon this corner was shocking, a relief, and then completely horrible. But—as they say, those who say these things—this is where the Light had been trapped. And now it is free. Alefuckingluyiah.

We know—or maybe we don’t—that it’s all the same thing. Light and Darkness. Beyond the beyond, there is no Light and there is no Darkness; there is only that which has no name. Then there is this mild differentiation—just an understanding of perhaps plural instead of singular. Each within the other and part of the other and really the other, but still—a difference. Just so it’s discernible, you know—the complexity—just so no one is fooled into thinking that that which is beyond the beyond is simple, lacking nuance. Maybe that’s it. All this Light and Darkness we have made such a big deal of. Nuance.

Most of the time, I go about feeling frustrated that we don’t take the time to recognize nuance; while really, we are so fixated on it—on the shades and hues and tones—that we can’t see the Whole for the parts. Name an area of human living, trying and lying, and this argument holds. We are so proud of ourselves for being able to discern, distinguish, differentiate—we hold it up as our most important achievement. And it is, in some ways. I am so grateful, when I look up at the sky in the summer, that I can see green against blue. To see a line against a white sheet of paper—what could be more important? All of everything comes from this.

Of course, the issue is that we rely too much on our sense of sight and forget to hone the other senses. If I could close my eyes and feel the different breezes on my body and be able to tell which one has just touched the large pine tree that is oozing sap and which has just wandered over the basil bush in front…if I could hear the woodchuck that has taken up residence in the backyard moving around in its hole…if I could sense the lives that were lived in this old house before I came to it…it would become clear that the plurality is so much more complex, so much more nuanced, than I can imagine. Then I would not talk of light and dark, or good and evil, of black and white or god and human. I would start to talk and the words would freeze because there are no words for so many in-betweens. See, that’s the thing: either admit to all the complex plurality or focus on the singular. To use the brain to differentiate and then to be too lazy to differentiate all the way—that’s dishonest.

But it’s too easy to blame everything on the brain. There’s something else—I’ll have to wonder what for a while. We humans—we distill the Darkness out of the Whole, we sip at it through a straw so it seeps into our cells, all the while crying out in longing for the Light. The Darkness seems to be inside us while the Light is “out there”—to be yearned for, reached out to, prayed for, worked towards. We insist on keeping it this way, refusing even to try sipping at anything else. Drink up and be miserable. Then cry out this misery and blame the set-up for causing it. God, society, the other party, family, whatever.

The joke here is that there is no beyond the beyond. There is no space between here and wherever else. We are that thing that has no name—we must be—because there is nothing else. Singular, after all. And we are—in all our creative and destructive glory—nuance.

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