It begins each time like a quest. The journey itself has taken on a symbolic feeling. At first the roads are wide, a dual carriageway leading to country B roads, well made, clear, fast and free flowing.
Passing through villages there is a shift, a valley opens up, steep sided, cattle grazing the meadows, isolated farms. The houses are scattered now and there is a little used sense in the road beneath me, rougher at the edges, potholes.
I turn into the lane, it winds around crazy bends, hugging close to ancient cottages, twisting up steeply between high, tree clad banks. There is no space here for passing. This day, as I climb, the mist thickens until I’m driving through the low cloud which mantles the top of the downs. Finally, a gate tucked in the hedge and arrival.
A journey into the wilderness, the unknown and hidden places.
I’ve been making this journey for a year and a half. During this time, I have changed in ways I didn’t know possible, peeled back layers of life and history, of ancestor story, worked through healing in both mother and father lines. Today I’m fretting again about work. This has been an irritant for decades. What shall I do? What am I here for? I have tried to weave a career making sure of space for family, I have sought to be in service to others and brought myself to burn out in the attempt, I have wanted to create and build though what comes out is never quite what I had imagined. And through it all a sense of restlessness. An inability to stop. Filling each day with activity.
As I reel off the frantic mind-muddle of the past weeks the word comes as a question. Yes, I say, without a doubt. Work is how I represent myself to the world. It is how I find who I am. I don’t know who I am without it.
She asks me to sit with this. She asks me to sit in my body and feel it. Where is it, she asks, that feeling?
What does it feel like? Like I’m trapped, I want to escape, everything feels tight.
Allow it, she says, sit with it, if you’re ok.
Part of me wants to scream. To get up and drive away. It is uncomfortable, my breath is stuck in my throat and my skin itches in response.
What is underneath that? She asks. And where?
In my stomach, in my chest.
What does it feel like?
Anger. Rage. Fire.
Yes, she says, stay with it…. years of doing what’s expected….
I am crying now but it doesn’t seem to matter. I allow the fire to burn inside me, a fire I have squashed for years. I have tamped it down again and again because I don’t know what will happen if I let it burn, I don’t know how to live with the raw power, with the heat and the passion and the strength and the wildness.
It feels like a friend. Here to warm and protect me, to light the way.
Time passes, I am sat deep inside myself, in the landscape of imagination.
What is behind that? She asks, can you feel it?
There is a space, behind the fire. An opening.
What does that feel like?
It is elemental. Forests and storms, oceans and mountains, free and strong and wild.
This is you. The essence of you…
I have never been here before.
I breathe differently now.
The things which have harried and preoccupied me for years seem less. I can feel this elemental self, whispering in my soul.
She needs time to grow and strengthen, she needs to know she is safe to show herself.
But she is here.