Twyla Tharp, in her book The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life, is writing about ritual, and there’s this writer running around dusting cobwebs off the ceiling and spraying everything down with Fantastik. It’s his ritual, the one he performs when he’s stalled—the white page still white. He says, “The job of a writer is simple. You write what’s in your head. But it becomes an emotional challenge when you can’t corral the words into coherent thoughts.”
This is where my story begins: in crawls a tick carrying a corkscrew spirochete, given name: Borrelia burgdorferi. Bulls-eye. I’ve been screwed.
Sometimes I think B.b. isn’t B.b at all, but as Douglas Burton-Christie writes, an “intimate, mysterious beckoning presence living and moving through the unknown depths of my being”… dusting away coherent thoughts and tearing down the corral.
Words reared up on their hind legs, tossing their heads, the wild wiry hair of their manes, and galloped off down the windswept ridge into the creek bottom, crossed mountain ranges in inclement weather until they reached a desert. I was left calling a fork a spatula. I called a lot of things spatula. Language was a precarious thing. I teetered over a glacial crevasse on a tightrope with no balancing pole. The glistening blue ice tantalized me a time or two, except I could never get the image of Sylvia Plath out of my spirochetal mind, the tormented poet hiding under the front porch in the dirt—vomiting.
Now I can walk and breathe at the same time. I can read again. The smell of horse manure doesn’t cause my amygdala to respond like a horse with hives in a barn full of bees. I CAN write sentences, even if the occasional spatula fills in when B.b. steals another word.
I think this blog is as much a spiritual journey as it is a journey back to words. It’s an auspicious day. It’s snowing. This is the longest, darkest night I’ve ever traveled and today the world outside my window is white.
It’s not surprising to me anymore the outcome of that balancing act above the twilight blue crevasse. I fell. I lost my bearings. And found myself adrift on a mysterious and terrifying journey. The mystics speak of such darkness as: the way of unknowing.
and you too have come
into the world to do this,
to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.
—Mary Oliver, from “When I Am Among The Trees