Cloudy today. Hazy sky, and the window still dirty from last night’s rain. Today my thoughts are scattered, as you will plainly see.
Toward the end of my trip to Greece, I had a rather surprising conversation with
Asklepios, the Greek God of Healing. At Epidaurus we visited the largest (and maybe
the oldest?) Asklepion, with a temple in the middle, surrounded by treatment rooms
and living spaces, where people came with their illnesses and injuries, to be treated
both by physical healers – herbalists and surgeons, for sure – and by spiritual
healers and by direct devotions to the Gods. And just down the hill, an underground
room for the incubation of healing dreams. As I stood there, it seemed a near analog
of a modern hospital, with treatment rooms and sleeping rooms and a chapel.
I went back to the temple a second time, and there heard clearly an offer to engage.
So far, that engagement has included journeys and meditations, building an altar,
finding a prominent place for a small bronze statue, carrying a tiny bronze statue in
my hand sometimes.
Is this the beginning of a Patron relationship? Too early to tell. But I thought you
should know, anyway.
The Witch starts to point out that I’m being vague, but then she sees that this is still
private for me. She nods and waves a hand: ‘Carry on.’
Just as an experiment, this morning I stepped off the merry-go- round of email,
blogroll, Facebook and clickbait and began the day reading an actual book. You
remember them, right? Hard covers wrapped in coarse fabric, paper pages thick
with rag content, crisp black ink pressed lightly into the face of each page in the
shape of sharp-serifed letters. You remember.
Because it was a book, and not a Kindle, I could flip the pages back to find the name
of the character I was mixing up with a new one. Because it was a book, I could take
it with me into the bath and not feel concern for possible damage to the electronics,
even if I did splash a few drops onto page 137.
Because it was a book, and not the internet, I found myself reading pages and pages
of a consecutive story line without wondering if clicking a different link would be
more useful, or more interesting.
Because it was a book, and not a movie or TV or a video, I imagined the places and
characters the way I heard them in my mind … and thus was brought up short when,
on page 153, someone mentioned in passing the black hair of a man I had seen as
This author is one of my favorites from decades ago.
The author is a White, Anglo male educated conventionally in a country where
English is the official language. I know, from interviews, that he started writing this
book 40 years ago. So why can’t I ignore, or at least forgive, the casual sexism and
racism? Or if I can’t ignore it, why not put the book down unfinished? Why am I so
angry, and yet still reading?
Her hand on my shoulder is cool, and heavy. What is it that she wants me to see?
Somewhere in my head is the notion that if I rejected all White Male authors I would be just as guilty of unfairness as those who never read Women, or who only read Whites. Somewhere else in my head comes the rejoinder: If for the rest of your life you only read books by Women, you would still never reach parity with the great numbers of Men whose work you have read. I want to argue about this, about how unfair it would be to reject, out of hand, every writer who didn’t match my preferred category.
Oh, wait; didn’t my entire public school career do that? Didn’t my entire multi-subject college education do that? Doesn’t my internet feed routinely do that?
The Witch is standing behind me, reading over my shoulder.
You used to tell people you were living your life as an experiment, trying to discover what was possible. When did you stop experimenting?
When did I begin to feel that I needed to conform to some imaginary, impossible standard in order to just survive? When did I stop speaking my true thoughts, in an effort to avoid the disapproval of someone I loved?
How long did it take to realize that your beloveds love you best when you are your true self? How long did it take to realize that no amount of ‘playing small’ and ‘acting compliant’ would ever make you safe?
This week I see I am better at ‘easy and casual’ with people than I was a few years ago. When it’s personal, though, I realize I am still waiting for the other person to tell their own truths before I tell mine.
Maybe I haven’t learned so much, after all.
I used to feel ignored and unappreciated because certain people – people I loved, and counted myself close to – never read my blog. Now it seems it’s just as well; maybe they would take as ‘personal’ those negative comments that I make more generally. Maybe they would miss completely the positive comments that I think most important.
Cloudy today. Hazy sky, and now fog rolling over the ridge, heading this way.
Sometimes it really does seem that I only see ‘through a glass, darkly.’
— Maggie Beaumont, a few days before Lammas