The Rivers of Lethe (Λήθη)

Truth is not something to find like a treasure in the most distant mountainside. Nor is it something to be found through logical or scientific proof. Truth (αλήθεια – aletheia) is only what must be remembered, that which rises and flows from the darkness of our humanity into the light of our awareness. That is how the truth will set us free.

There are some stories that only the rivers remember. But these are no ordinary surface rivers. These are rivers of the underworld, questionable graces who echo in our blood through all our hearts, ancient terrible songs that we can hear only when we sleep or have a vision in the thinnest part of night, as the earth’s heart beats her subtle drums. It would take the deepest stillness for one to hear them rushing through the day; for during the day we try to be busier than the trees, preoccupied with what we see, our mental games, every question we can chase: whether to buy this or that, whether to forgive this one or not that one, whether to get a new job or go back to the one that’s old. And yet still there are many days when the light shines through our dusty windows, and we remain in place to listen to something bright; and we create the most magnificent poems and songs and laughter, things of wood and clay, things born of our heart no matter how deep or far away, scrumptious feasts, all prepared with a love that always finds its way through the denser parts of earth. These are things that give us hope that there is something worth living for, something valuable in our birth: freedom, joy, mirth.

But still the waters continue their flow, deep below, regardless of our chosen play for the day.

Yes, the rivers still flow through us, and they are no meager rivers, but mighty ones whose tow is more powerful than the tides of the deepest sea. They pull each one of us daily, endlessly like a frightened or angry child that has been forgotten. Each one of us can feel this river through our heart, for it carries the blood of our ancestors and the blood spilled by tyrants; the screams of children and families ripped apart. It carries the cares and the fears, all that has germinated by a love eternally dear, but one that did surface panic by the bloody dove, suspicion and terrified surrender to below from above. We, each of us, still carry those ancient stories of pain within us as we brush our teeth and worry about our jobs; as we lose control of our relationships and fear being alone; as we look at our lives and shutter at the emptiness of our home; for we fear that we are marksmen who ever fail the test. And even where we find our peace, that river rushes through us again, always reminding us that our bliss has an end not later than soon and that life will turn our hopes to rain again, just like the story it is telling us.

Yet while we are young we can resist somewhat and we can ignore, forging ahead, making better than what we feel is down below to dread. Nightmares of drowning are soothed with dreams of flying away.  Illusions keep our feet walking far and astray, though happy in our stride, we are only hiding, weeping on the inside, scrambling for psychology to tell us why we are dying inside. For that is where our apparent strength lies,  in withstanding the brutal flow of the river’s blood arising; but it is a strength that soon will weaken as the body’s heart begins to slow, and as time rolls past our proverbial prime, we will find that we are losing our power over the ancient stories’ flow, for they wish to carry us with them into what they know, their rises and their falls, their philosophies and their destinies are the laws they wish upon us to impose.

Until we finally completely drown, into death we finally fall, into the romance of those ancestors we will fall, doomed to repeat what mother, father, grandfather, grandmother and great-grandparents saw in the stories that only the rivers remember.  And we run the risk, if we do not stop to discern their theatrical songs, their lessons and their rights and wrongs, of allowing them to engulf our children, to pull them into their swift currents, unless we remember to discover, to finally tell them the greatest news, that their stories are now no longer true.

Sunlight in the Dark

“Guilt — if there was any guilt — spread out and diffused itself over everybody and everything. . . . Perhaps at some point in time, at some spot in the world, a moment of responsibility existed.” 

Philip K. Dick

I did not visit my ancestors with a guide, for no guide was needed;
but there was a suggestion of the soul of my soon to be ex-husband
who was releasing me to my family from where he originally found me
so that I might walk through them, many of whom had reluctantly passed;
for only those who watched life badly want never-ending eternity,
and these, it seemed, failed to achieve even ignominy in their life;
thus, my living heart and mind had no memory of their names or eyes.
Even they themselves had easily forgotten their true and honest faces.

But I knew I must review them, if I am going to continue on my own way
for my old marriage never prevented their destiny but held them at bay
and now was the time for me to choose between being free or being bound,
between eternal hunger or abundance, between misery or sweeter sound;
How simple this choice seems in a mind too hasty towards the skies;
but for most upon earth that is exactly where dreams begin to die,
for old feet are stubborn and their invisible wings never seem to fly
how deep are their hopeful lies, divinity they believe they recognize.

My ancestors remembered well all their life longings and their loses,
and so they were pleased when I had arrived in their sad vicinity;
for I had landed there with the many gifts I received on my journey
and as I walked through, I heard them singing the song of hunger aching,
so heavy and deformed were the shapes they call beautiful in their making,
especially the old man who would have been younger if not for neglect,
his despair and mistreatment were too deep for his heart to protect
for light has little hope in he who is buried in comfortable torments.

And that is when my heart spoke from within the wisdom of my soul:
“Be cautious of the things and the people who make themselves known,
for they carry either messages of gods or messages of dreadful woe;
which is which is hidden by those who don’t want you to really know.”
And so, confused as to who this old man was, I did not dare go near him,
but passed him averting my eyes away from his desire back into my own;
for each person is allotted one deep love, but many are the distractions,
the devils who steal from hearts to replace what from them was stolen.

At that point, my urge to quickly pass through this place was strong,
for though I felt compelled to look, I wasn’t feeling bound for long
until I felt a presence besides me and then finally right in front,
she was as golden as tinsel; as bright as a reflection of the light;
for she was heavy with artifice, exhausted from its demanding device
and she asked me thrice if I would stay here if only three more days
to show them more of what I’d brought them from the sunnier ways.
Certainly, I must so kind as to give this just and precious pleasure.

For look at these poor souls, she directed me: they need you and your help
and you can come and go as you will, for three is greater than eternity.
And as the shame of begging and the guilt of refusing fell upon my heart,
I considered her offer with a slight repugnance that she herself perceived.
It was then they she knew that she had lost control of her falsified ease
and so all her world fell back into the two who dreamed her restless pain.
My parents’ shadows dwelt in a room in fear without support of their gait;
for the fearful neglect what they can and have no faith in what they can’t.

I saw them. My light illuminated the dust streaming from the window,
and I learned that they no longer subsist on food since anger fills them
for they had poured all of their desires and their pain into their children,
that they might carry them into the world and free them from their prison
to save the entire family from the fate that they themselves had chosen
“For we cannot heal ourselves,” they said. “We need you to be our savior.
So will you please remove your cruelty to redeem us from our behavior?”
I could barely hear my guilt, for so many ancestors and devils were speaking.

At that moment, I knew I was presented with a choice: to return to them
or to continue on my journey; to give them all to lose, or lose them to give;
for the angry dead and dying will never return the magic of gifts given.
“No,” I said. “No. I must continue on my way to the living who want to sing,
for they are also, like me, trapped in dreams of an ancient spirits’ making.
These are the souls who, when light is given, don’t want it as their own,
but carry it within so that they might shine it on others trapped and alone.
For Love is found in refusal to be where justice lies and begs in her dream.”

And so my eyes were opened and all the shadows had fallen far away;
the sun was bright, and even though I did not know which way to go,
I had faith that love would find my way.