We are living in a time between stories. The old stories of separation, human superiority, scarcity, and exploitation still dominate while Earth and culture unravel. The new (ancient) stories of belonging, connection, compassion, mystery and humility have not yet fully emerged, although hopeful signs are everywhere.
This between is a threshold, a place of shapeshifting, mystery and mischief. A precarious, liminal world neither wholly known nor unknown, a place of both/and, of possibility and of danger.
When first called to this adventure, I declined to go. I dawdled. I had my reasons, some of them worthy, some cowardly. Eventually, circumstances intervened and forced me to go. Even having stepped out the door of comfortable compliance with cultural norms, I linger on the threshold, buffeted by magical and terrifying guardians. Such a liminal place is intolerable at times, exhilarating at others. In every moment, I must decide: do I grasp Life or deny it? Do I live in love or in fear?
This threshold is the point of no return. From here, I have caught glimpses, however fleeting, of many futures: the promise of a Permaculture farm, of soul initiation in rugged wilderness, restorative justice circles, conversations with strange and wondrous Others, ruined places brought back to life. Still, I have yet to fully embark, because I have not finished making my peace with the false beliefs and broken promises that raised me.
This blog is a place of practice. Here I will light candles in the darkness and take an honest look at the habits that separate me from the story of abundance, of my kinship and reciprocity with the world beyond the confines of human-made environments and culture. Mostly, this will serve to remind me of what I’m here for: to experience joy.
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A salute from an old sailor. I expect you could have easily said …. a time between ports, or a time of cusps like dawn and dusk, a time of rapid change where identities are harder to maintain. For me the image was and is the beach comber, living on the boundary between the known and the unknown – unknowable. to quote from years ago ” and sustained by what has been cast up from the sea and cast down from the land”. Or from another perspective, the essential gifts each world gives to the other. Anyway, I appreciate the difficulty of the conversation you have begun. Don’t flinch or try to please anyone. carry on
Thank you, John. Really appreciate the images you share here. Those liminal places, edges of both/and, fascinate me. What is the source of the quote, if I may ask? It reminds me of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s beautiful memoir, “Gift from the Sea.” My dad taught me the wonderfully evocative military phrase, “begin morning nautical twilight,” which on the water is quite a long time of waiting and receiving.
“begin morning nautical twilight,” too beguiling to be only a military term? In Astrology, the most powerful planets are within 10 degrees of the horizon (or the vertical axis). where the membrane between the worlds is thin either/or becomes both/and. Before you know it, you’re in the land of the dead. the quote comes from a poem I have been trying to write for 25 years off and on. Living on my boat (the Aquarius) among the Islands was a timeless life wide awake to the moment. there was nothing else to intrude. Increasingly, I felt cared for by beings I did not know, else how could I continue to evade death.
I’m sure you’re right; I should have said he learned it in the military. Yes, magical things happen in those thin places. Sometimes I think this whole time we’re living in is a thin place.
I agree completely. The sages tell us the two worlds are one and that we (the incarnate) split the world in two in order to manage, in our imperfect way, life on the physical plane. One can be terrified and withdraw from a world where even ones identity cannot be established. or one can just be astonished in a limitless world and let it go at that.
Derring do, or daring don’t is my new existential norm. My friends have a band called “Edge of the West”, the name captures our Santa Cruz coastal lifestyle. Everyday is a hinge point of emergency and/or discovery, that carries emotional weight. Your article expresses the angst and belief that really does ignite the imagination and can create wondrous changes! Thanks, Bill
Through the magic randomness of the internet and the world, I just stumbled across this page, which really speaks to me today. Blessings to you. I hope you are, indeed, experiencing joy!
Thanks, Tina. Love your blog as well. I tried to post a comment but I’m not sure if it posted. Anyway – enjoy your weekend.
Love this, love this, love this.
thank you Cynthia! Just saw this. Hope you are well and thriving.
Last Friday i joined Paul kingsnorth and Martin online through Pt. Reyes Books. Paul was debuting Alexandria. He said everyone is talking about new stories these days. Said, the notion 1st came with Dark mountain’s work at onset.Went on to say what if its the old stories we really need. Old as new. I’m interested in what you consider danger in the work. Generally and or personally if you wouldn’t mind. I read your introduction in Basecamp. I’m also attending. My question to Martin that Dougald spared me from being used might explain my interest somewhat. A list of questions he didn’t get to were e mailed to us all. Thank you found what you wrote interesting.
Thanks for commenting and for your question. Though this was written about six years ago, it still feels true. The risk is facing the probability that everything I’ve been taught is built on a lie — a mistaken notion of human superiority over nature. Worse, a modernist-colonialist notion that some humans are superior to others. The heartbreak of facing my complicity in these destructive systems. And the exhilaration of being alive at this particular time in history, when new/ancient stories are circulating and new activist voices are sounding louder than ever. Could go on, but will leave it there for now. Yes, I agree that it’s not “new” stories so much as to see our culture as being underpinned and driven BY stories – and ones that are mistaken and destructive. And turning to other cultural stories that haven’t been destroyed by colonial genocide, ancient stories that allowed cultures to survive and to thrive in right relationship with the living world.