Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing,
Memory and Desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.”
So goes some of the most famous lines in poetry by T.S. Eliot, from “The Wasteland.”
For my part there aren’t many other condensed words that explain the month I endured called April.
Breeding life from the dead
Memory and desire both stirred and mixed and muddy and stinky dirty with the washing like rain.
From a scholarly standpoint, “The Wasteland’s” major theme has its source in The Fisher King, “When the king is injured, his kingdom suffers as he does, his impotence affecting the fertility of the land and reducing it to a barren Wasteland. Little is left for him to do but fish in the river near his castle; Knights travel from many lands to heal the Fisher King, but only the chosen can accomplish the feat. This is Percival.”
From a personal standpoint – my “Holy Fuck!” place of existence - I can’t really sum it up better than that.
Like the starting gun at a race, the month started day 1 with a change in what seemed like everything -the end of a relationship/friendship that wounded deep, and like a blast on the land it unearthed other deeper injuries; along with a general sense that storm clouds rolled in heavy over my life, creativity dried up, isolation settled in. I won’t get into details other than to say I do not wish these kind of hits on my worst enemies; though for all the good, rich outcomes on the other side, I might wish them upon my closest friends.
For all my ranting and raving, all my cursing outbursts inside my heart and head, more often than not there was little more to do than sit where I lay – “fish the river near “ home, so to speak. Desire was gone in all the areas that were thriving just weeks before, in all the areas of my life: no sense of desire for anything other than relief. Yeah, my “landscape” was barren - no creativity, not much to give in friendships, not even sure anymore who were my friends, no work, not much money; I’ve easily lost weight for all the days I had no appetite, forcing myself to eat the barest of foods. (And even the last days of the month I was without my Mac, no writing, no escapes, no connection.)
Yeah, it sounds grim.
I was there. And some of you were too.
And all the therapists in the world could label me with some benign diagnosis, which ultimately misses the humanity behind the label. I've done my share of labeling the things that are hard to understand
As April came to it’s end, there were often times I was sure I’d come to mine. Still, there was my Percival. If you’ve ever seen Terry Gilliam’s film of the Fisher King, Percival, is played by Robin Williams and called, “Parry.” For all appearances, Parry is a nut-case homeless man running around the streets of New York, dancing his naked hairy ass in Central Park, and embodying everything society shuns or despises. He’s a romantic with an unblemished devoted love, a knight seeking the grail, he knows what it is to be destroyed, lose everything, love everyone and did I mention he talks to invisible floating fat babies that follow him around?
My Parry shares many of these characteristics, if not all of them and more.
Into my Wasteland came a relationship so shit scary and subtle, so direct and raw intimate, so present and accepting. It’s a relationship I’ve known in smaller, more compartmentalized capacities, but this time as the landscape was laid waste it took a relationship vast enough to cover the acreage; just as uncomfortable to be around as Robin Williams’ Parry, but also getting at the heart of it all – since the heart is where it all is anyways.
But it didn’t come without its moments of harsh words and lashing out. Like a marriage on the edge of divorce after 20 some odd years of ups and downs, hurts, and joys… I was fighting to see if there was anything worth saving of this relationship with Him. It was in this closest breathing that all my blame for the past month finally had its focus. I was ready to be done with Him regardless of our history together, yelling out loud on the hills outside Denver, “What the Fuck, huh?!?!”
And like a marriage with so much behind it, I ultimately wanted to work through whatever shit was there to get to that place on the other side of the sun – where either peace was found in walking away or intimacy was steeped even deeper than I’d ever known before.
I’d say I found both. The walking away from a life not worth living into one that is, and intimacy that makes sex look like kid’s play.It was as if the blasting had been a clearing of the dirt and weight that was hiding the red-burn coal of my soul, and He was dusting the last bits off to warm the fire. As Julia Esquivel once wrote:
mas fuerte que yo
me he dejado seducir.
Y tu amor
quema mi corazon"
(Because you are stronger than I, I have let myself be seduced. And your love burns my heart).
How things change, what that looks like, what I heard and the various ways of experiencing the rest of the story… well, I am still not sure how to tell it in words.
Not even sure this is the place for it.
It’s much easier to talk of tragedy and desolation – just look at our daily news- than it is to describe beauty and restoration. Maybe some day I will be able, maybe not. “Words are poor to tell the best things.” - George Macdonald.
There’s a reason Eliot ends his poem with these words: