May 23, 2014 Essays

The vastest things are those we may not learn.
We are not taught to die, nor to be born,
nor how to burn with love.

How pitiful is our enforced return
to those small things we are the masters of.

-Mervyn Peake

I haven’t read Peake. He’s an idea. A promise. Of another world, maybe.

Gormenghast sits in the stacks up here in The Womb (part library, part sacred space, part Tardis) vying for my attention with hundreds of other friends I haven’t met yet.

There’s something about that quote, just out of reach, that is bringing to mind two of my many lives, that of poet & shamanic practitioner.

I honestly don’t think one can be taught to be a poet. It is a self directed enterprise. Or obsession. You can’t learn it from a book. You can’t learn it in a classroom or workshop. You can’t be taught how to know.

Being a poet seems to be about listening, about inviting something in. It seems to be about how one lives. Done with intention, the words on the page cannot be wrong, even if their meaning is not immediately apparent.

Similarly, in shamanism, the people who have the hardest time are often those who need to impose meaning on the experience, as opposed to simply sitting with things that may be confusing / chaotic / uncomfortable.

The head / mind is important. Obviously. But it’s the heart, the senses, the ability to build bridges between metaphors, that seems to drive change. And as I was once told, once you know something, you can’t un-know it.

No matter how hard you try.

Written by Tara