Last night my dear friend Mindy sent me a quote by Mary Oliver (the best poet in America of the last 100 years, maybe even ever):
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”
I read that and as so often happens, words and images started flowing. Sometimes they come like a flood, right away, rushing and gushing–exploding all over the page; other times it’s a more gradual build, images and words finding their way into me slowly, like the dawn. Last night it was the former. It all came out in one brief, satisfying, healing torrent of images, words, and insights.
I went with the current on Twitter. Sometimes the constraints of the 140 spaces is a perfect discipline to channel the flow. Other times it’s silly to even try. Last night, the Twitter format worked fine.
So thank you Mindy for the initial share; thank you Mary Oliver for writing your wildly luminous poetry; thank you Muse for coming to me in the form of Mindy and Mary; and thank you also, Dear Darkness, of whom I am learning so much from, thank you for being full of light. So many times the depression feels only like utter and complete blackness. I am learning, little by little, the more I simply keep walking, that as soon as the darkness begins to feel overwhelmingly isolative (isolate=from the Latin: to become an island), that exact moment—if I tell someone, find a way to share the hidden pain, the secret suffering, then the darkness blooms into light, into lessons, into invaluable help for myself and others, and I can breathe again. For deep depression is nothing more than the suffocation of the soul.
Last night, I didn’t drown in the darkness. I was able to swim. Thank you everyone who helps me to do this. The trinity of diseases: addiction, depression, and isolation, often go hand in hand and can lead to the final darkness. I needn’t go through anything alone again, ever. You don’t either. May my journey through the heart of darkness bear witness to this truth: bring others with you—not dragging them into the chaos, no, bring them with you into your heart, invite them—the safe ones into where the secret hurts live, and the burdens, whatever they are, will become light, the yoke becomes easy (easier). For wherever two or more are gathered–there, in the midst of them, is salvation from the fears of being vulnerable, of showing one’s weaknesses, of being so-called-perfect. There, in this place, this holy space of breath and of embracing–the common experiences, the threads of compassion, identification, love, and eventually ultimately wonder, creativity, and dancing, weave us together into the shared fabric of humanity.
Thank you all.
The Poems in order of their appearance:
Wherever I go, I carry a box of darkness handed down by generations. Inside are echoes of sorrows; and light, beautiful, hidden light.
I speak, the box of darkness closes; I am silent, the box opens. I weep, the box closes, I sleep, the box opens; I sing the box disappears.
I reach inside the box of darkness and find a key. A door appears. I stand, set the box down, and go, go to fall into the shimmering light.
Three words: “Box of darkness,” open secret passageways to the soul. I’m going, take my hand, let’s go find the way back to now.
Where are you? I cry. Here, says the Beloved. Where? I demand. Here, says the Beloved, Where you left me, inside this box of darkness.
One day, I slipped the box of darkness under my bed, not wanting to see it again. When I got home that night, my room had become the box.
I never know when it’s going to come, this rush of images. I only know to slip into it and allow it to river through me to wherever it goes.
Goodnight. I open the box of darkness, slip inside with a blanket. I close the lid. And when I open my eyes to the darkness, I see light.