Saturday, April 30, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Broken

The last few years have been interesting. Deeply challenging. Hard. They've also been immensely rewarding in ways I would never have expected or predicted. Magic takes the path of least resistance, and the easiest thing to transform is you. So when you make some Great Big Changes and ask for help one Imbolc, change comes in torrents so strong you will spend the following moons asking for help processing and handling everything so that you aren't torn apart.

Asking for help working on your weaker character qualities all at once isn't efficient and noble of you - it's brutal. Asking to learn patience in a year where you have done nothing but try to wrestle a new, higher-paying job out of a recession economy (with surprising amounts of success) means every bit of progress will grind to a fucking halt. For almost an entire year, on the nose. I'm still skittish of Imbolc even if I am grateful for what the changes have brought, now that my broken life has had time to mend some.

My point is that while changes and transformations are good, they are rarely comfortable or smooth. We die to be reborn, again and again. Metaphorically and literally. The earliest stories in every culture are rife with these cycles of sex, fertility, birth, death, and rebirth. Yet when the play out in our own lives, we're surprised by it. There's no fairy godmother to wave a wand and shower you in glitter and fancy new gowns. It's you and whatever all-consuming, hopefully benevolent deity you called on. Be careful what you wish for and who you ask to grant that wish.

That truth is why I'm not very comfortable with too heavy a focus on the softer, gentler side of just about everything. No, acknowledging that the hard things exist or even paying them lip service at the right time of the year doesn't make for balance. It's imbalanced, skimming over the harder realities. It's trying to avoid the inevitable, putting you in the position of having to tap dance ever faster and harder to try to keep from having to face a natural part of the cycle. Forget that. Let yourself experience each piece of the cycle, knowing that it's temporary.

Temporary, yes, but also likely to have to be faced again at some point. That part sucks. Nobody wants to fight the dragon they thought they slew. There are upsides to having actually fought in the first place instead of cowering in a corner. You know what the depths are like. You know how to take countermeasures. You know the way out, through the tunnels, and back into the light. Do you welcome it? Hell, no. But having fought it before, you know its weaknesses and your best defenses against it. You already have your battle scars, and in getting them, you have taken away the power that fearing this unknown thing has. It may be dreadful and command your respect now, but the edges of it are defined and it has a familiar form.

The first time you fight the thing, you may finish shaking and scared, praying you actually killed it, running blind to find some place to wash the blood off your hands. The second or third time you face it down, you may crack open its ribs to take its heart as a trophy and eat it for dinner or wear it on a necklace next to the hearts of other foes you've conquered. I like that phase. It feels good and strong to let the feral, bloodthirsty part of yourself come out and do what it does best.

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