H Matthew Howarth CC
We might be a linear species but the earth speaks a different language. The cyclical return, from endpoint to renewal. But things are not so easy for us.
Habitats, familiar scents, wordless sensations, the kind we forget to feel more of as we grow older, more cynical. Innocence is all too often taken, good things spoiled. Trauma gets mixed into the paint and our canvas is never again as beautiful as we had once hoped it would be. “There is a crack in everything,” and not always enough light.
Autumn seems a kind of sweet unburdening, trees shed their cover and stand naked to the world. The warm air turns cold and our bodies brace themselves for the changing of the atmospheric guard. Some animals retreat into the earth, the more fragile of our species, us humans, have our homes to stay inside of, if we’re lucky. Too many in this country, in this world, are not so lucky. Their bodies are bracing themselves in ways that are not at all sweet but frightening. Survival mode kills tenderness, and yet something recognizable and unspoiled in even the most tragic of circumstances and lives remains; I know because I have both seen it in others and lived it myself. You can trample a thing to near death but so long as there is life in it, there is life in it.
“We’re all just walking each other home.” (Ram Dass) Not only as artists or writers but as individuals who, despite what the term implies, cannot possibly do this alone. Our measure comes from nothing other than the imperfect goodness that sometimes, impossibly, accidentally, purposefully, happens amidst all of the equal and unbearable amounts of damage done, to others, to ourselves. We want to do better but we often don’t know how.
Where to start?
Matthew Ryan once said: "You've gotta remember that we're all shot from a cannon, and I believe we get to decide where we land on some fundamental level." From such a fundamental thing as simple as listening to others in their darkest hour of pain, our hearts press in towards what is close at hand. We start our journey there. Going in also means going out. The world, including its sorrow, its trauma, lives in each of us. There is no detachment available to us from suffering. We are in it even when we are witnessing it in others and not ourselves. To learn to live in what I would call the broken-hopeful, is to accept that what can be done is also part of what cannot be done. Not completely. We aren’t finished with our story, not yet. There is still work to be done.
Shedding skin is only preparation for what comes next; more skin, more covering, warmer air, a return to the place we started from. Slightly changed, more weary or more strong of heart, more or less bitter, more cynical or sometimes, amazingly, softer than the year before. Kinder, more attentive, leaning in. Learning. Waiting. Witnessing. Wondering. Wailing. Autumn can be sweet and it can be dark, like our lives. The paint is never the same, but the canvas can still be beautiful.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.