The way out is through. It has always been this way. We invented ways to evade it – airplanes let you go over, tunnels let you go under, and cars allow you to pass through as though you were in an air submarine, untouched by the outside elements. But all it did is made the way bigger, and more indirect. It does not mean the path was not improved. An airplane can be faster. Sometimes tunnels can be safer. But you must go through, even if you skirt the edges or insulate yourself. The way out is always through, and this has never changed.
I am trying to kill my demons. It is an act of folly because the metaphor of demons describes an inescapable aspect of being human. Rob Bell’s book, Sex God stated that we can be neither purely angelic, nor purely corporeal. We’re human, which means we are prone to errors. Jung argued that we have a shadow self. There is that saying of how is no light without darkness. Some folks feel that religions have no place in our world, being that stories cannot be empirically tested. I disagree. Religions serve as a corpus of how we understand the human condition. Therein lays my point: there is a reason that nearly every religion in the world incorporates some description of human failing, and some sense of its inevitability. It is part of everyone. It is inevitable.
There is also a reason that many religions include some method of trying to escape what we are, trying to enter some sort of salvation, transcendence, or perfection. The discomfort with a dark side and having a pursuit of perfection is as human as having a dark side to begin with.
If I cannot kill my demons, and I cannot avoid my demons, perhaps I can befriend them? It’s the dark side version of “if you can’t beat them, join them.” Perhaps I can invite them over to tea and we can look each other straight into each other’s eyes and I can be kind to them, which is the only way I’ve ever reconciled with my enemies.
Of course, there are reasons one avoids their demons. There are reasons that people avoid the shadows in favor of the bright light of the sun. It is not just a question of safety, but it is a question of cultivation. Mold grows in the shadows. Flowers need the light. In our attempts to be better, we develop the better parts of us. Of course.
For the most part, I’ve been out in the exposed part of the metaphoric field, with some sort of wholesome miracle grow in garden-gloved hands. I appreciate the sun. I appreciate the crops and flowers and clover, and even the well-documented pests with the well-documented and accepted solutions. I’ve avoided the woods, with the dark shadows and the branches that intertwine, with the fact that I can’t discern the details except on the surface of the woods. It’s shrouded. The canopy blocks much of the sun in their own efforts at photosynthesis. It is how it is.
What I cannot do is ignore the fact that the woods exists.
First of all, it’s always there. It looms at the edges of the field. It seems darker and more intimidating the more I wish to avoid it. Second, I have spent time there. It ended badly. It took a long time to find my way back to the light, because my eyes adjusted to the darkness and I failed to see what it was. A youthful mistake of inexperience, I think, and some poor decision-making. The trouble is that you cannot avoid the woods forever. The forest has wood, the forest has streams, the forest has shelter that you will not find in the field. The forest is not inherently bad; it just can be easy to get lost when you cannot see as far into the distance.
The way out is through. If I wish to experience the world in its honesty, I cannot cherry-pick the parts I like the best. I cannot filter what I see through the lenses of what I think it is. I’ve made that mistake before. So it is true with being a full human. The way to reconcile light and dark, to befriend my demons, may not be the issue of where to go through. It might require knowing where the end destination is, and passing through the woods with eyes wider and aware.
I think part of my original problem was that I liked the woods too much. I’ve never read Hunter S. Thompson, as the descriptions of what he wrote about were sufficient to give me nightmares. The guys I knew who liked him – and it was only guys who volunteered this information – were the sort of guys who pass pot to their friends to grind because they broke their arm drinking at a midnight bike ride. Trouble, really. I generally find most trouble repelling, but some of it is magnetic. I imagine this is true for everyone. You can’t divide the world into those with vices and those who do not have vices: you can sort people into certain types of vices. I’ve never heard someone say that they liked Thompson because his writing was wholesome. It isn’t – it is compelling, especially if your preferred flavor of shadow aligns with what Thompson writes about.
I am fatiguing of some of my demons, per say. I’m sick of being bothered by them, weary of their irrelevance, and watching some of the relevance creep back into my life. If you could solve a problem by being tired of it, I would have resolved this one years ago. Some pieces did simply expire, and I am grateful for that. Other pieces refreshed and renewed, and expanded my fatigue.
I write a lot, and yet come to few conclusions.
The way out is through, and if thinking through alone was sufficient…