Saturday, September 18, 2010

The venn diagram of myth and reality

A couple of weeks ago I went home too see my folks and my homeplace and the pets before my year swept me up for the next two and half months. What I found there, in addition to the comfort and inspiration I so often find, was the season of butterflies. They greeted me on the road; I saw flashes of color rip over my head, and rush beyond me. Every step out of the door brought me to the butterflies. They rested, played, fed, and bloomed as riotously as any flowers.

Beyond the immediate joy of seeing these paper thin splashes of color and flight, I felt like I'd come home to an overwhelming symbol. Butterflies can mean change and this sight of them in the last weeks of summer also spoke to me of bravado and panache in the face of fragility. There will be change. We will all be vulnerable to it, but we can leap into that, not only face change but run to it as our best selves and forget any thought of useless clinging. This felt apt to me the moment I learned it, and that rightness continues. Sometimes it feels like very many iterations of the same lesson occur all at once or that many go through the same experience together and apart but with unwitting synchronicity.

Last fall, I saw rupture and loss; it echoed through the harsher winter and the slow spring. It stayed apart from me, but I watched it like a cubist painting from many angles simultaneously and in or out of sync. Now I feel like the tumblers in our locks are moving again, but this time with me. It is not loss, this season, but movement into the unknown. We are the butterflies at the very end of summer, but we are also the coming fall.

For me this means putting forth my name and ideas for jobs. Each of them becomes a nucleus for a host of potential futures and most of them will be ended in a barely read stack of papers in a stale busy office. But I have to send these chances out; they are bright winged possibilities that range from the tiny and unknown to the deeply familiar or dauntingly celebrated. I am sending myself out on at least eighteen quests.

This merging of the archetypal, mythic, or fairy tale with what can be readily experienced jolted me this morning and prodded me to write. In Banff, somewhere in the wilds of Canada, there are these mysterious geological formations called the Inkpots. They are round greeny-clear pools of water in a mountain clearing, and they stay at the same very cold (but not freezing) temperature all the year round. We don't know much about them, save that their water comes up from below. It bubbles through their quicksand floor instead coming on the surface. How could anyone hear about such places without thinking of the story of King Turnip Counter or the many myths of being lured into magically beautiful water only to be paralyzed and drowned. These Inkpots sound more than real, and they remind that the world is wilder and bigger than our minds can hold in an everyday way. With all of this possibility, who can say what will happen?