Too many of us walk with no limp. No scars nor broken bones. We have not seen the dark of night nor stood against its cold shoulder. We are comfort and we are lounge chair. We are stuck. Our limbs have atrophied under the weight of our indifference. Or perhaps it is our fear. The sheer terror of what lies beyond the world that we have created around us. We hide away in places dark and often lonely. The streets that knew us and gave us our name. We hide away in the comfort of a slavery that we do not recognise as slavery. An oppression by the names, by the moulds, that others have given us. Scripts written that now dictate our life. It is the slavery of thinking that we know the answers, believe the right things, have the right doctrines. To be in bondage to the things that we think that we know. So sure of our rightness that we are in fact hindered to the real point of it all.
Yet, how can we leave these places inscribed in our skin without a sense of pain and tearing? Places so enmeshed within us they have become our very person. We cannot leave that by which we have known life without a lament of all that this space met within us. Without a deep sense of regret and fear. Such is the pain and the necessity of movement. To stay is to be frozen, to walk forward is to be torn in two, to be skinned of our security.
Yet, a tearing, a melting of frozen thought and existence, always brings with it new possibilities. The world that opens to us where our fragile endings, our unraveled, pioneering tendrils, reach out to grasp that which is beyond them. The freedom of the new frontier always outweighs the pain of such tearing.
Every journey begins with a choice to leave behind the security of the absolute. A walking out the front door of what has been into the wide desert of the unknown. We move forward because we know what silent death lies waiting when we stay still. A fixed image and frozen identity. We move forward because the old way crumbles underneath the weight of the new, because the hands that once held us, as much as we needed them then, can no longer contain us. We move forward because change comes to find us. We move forward because we get hints of what could be, an insistent splinter, a scent on the wind, a whisper of something beyond our small stories, an unknown realm of possibility. It calls to us in the hours of the night. We move forward because we know that we must.
For each of us there shall always come that which urges us on from the safety of what has been. Those experiences that cause us to stumble and so to step forward and look around. For myself it was the incongruency of my convictions and my actions. It was the taste of something without knowing its name. It was the reality of my past. It was the dreamings of a new future. It was that one who saw something in me I had not seen in myself. It was the inconsistencies of the people around me. It was the way the horizon never came closer. It was the deep knowing that there must be more. It was the baby bird stepping out of the nest. It was the foreign smell carried on the breeze. It was all of these things. The constriction of the world that was. The new world that lay waiting.
For others, it may be the university lecturer who challenges that which you have been taught as truth. It may be the life that does not go the way you were told it would. The death of a loved one or a love that leaves. Sometimes it is illness and suffering, sometimes it is the contradictions and disagreements that arise in what has been a nurturing community, sometimes it is the contradictions one sees in the self. These whispers, these storms, these urgings begin a feeling of dislocation. Where the locale for all that you have known is no longer there. The anchor has lost its grip. We begin to unravel. We begin the journey. It is at once a fear-inducing and faith-inspiring movement. There is a wide field that awaits.
May the following poetry clip move you forward….
Joel McKerrow is an author, speaker, performance poet and educator from Melbourne Australia. He has, for the last five years, been on faculty at Tabor College Victoria is the founder of ‘The Centre for Poetics and Justice’. Joel is a regular host on ‘indiefeed performance poetry podcast’ (the most well known spoken word podcast in the world) and in 2012 was the third ever Australian to represent his nation at the Individual World Poetry Slam Championships. He is the author of Beyond Rhetoric, Writings in the Tradition of Kahlil Gibran and is passionate about discovering a new way to live outside the system of the Empire of Greed and spends much of his time trying to match his actions with this belief.
Photos provided by the author.