Maybe a break in the silence can restore a more profound silence within me. This is one of those times when I just need to set out on a writing and not worry about where I’m going, or why. Reckoning the losses that seem to be happening around me, making sense of permanent absence, of the violent changes in my midst — the act of setting out to wander seems appropriate. Accepting an unknown destination is congruent with the humble futility where there was once security in my beliefs, logical understanding, the irritating predictability within myself. This couldn’t be more different than the trite journeys, the banal distractions of these times.
Wandering necessitates a field, preferably one abandoned to nature. I’m not even sure it’s a particular field. It could be the fields through which Heidegger has us roaming, on a woodcutter’s path. One tree opens up a new clearing with another tree to fell. For Heidegger, a clearing on the woodcutter’s path is also a lighting. It is where inspiration occurs to me, where an idea or thing can be unconcealed, even if it is for a fleeting moment. It is where, “the lighting middle itself encircles all that is, like the nothing we hardly know.”
Or maybe it’s the field where Paul Celan, influenced by Heidegger, finds his path. On his path, where language meets meaning, I am lost, but I am also found: “Yet, among how many other paths, they are also paths on which language gets a voice, they are encounters, paths of a voice to a perceiving Thou, creaturely paths, sketches of existence perhaps, a sending oneself ahead toward oneself, in search of oneself… a kind of homecoming.”
Perhaps it is the field that John Berger ventures into, where he is at first disinterested, but then something shifts. One’s awareness of self becomes displaced: “The field that you are standing before appears to have the same proportions as your own life.”
Berger’s fields flash before my eyes: The fields above Yosemite where I heard the delicate cracking of ice as the river intimated its willingness to the next season. The fallow cornfield of 60,000 geese pixelating into not-geese, into a deafening drone of warning calls upon my advance. The open tundra overlooking my native coast where my knees failed the moment she kissed me. The grassy expanse where I found two abandoned eggs, left by the fretful killdeer fleeing my footsteps the day before.
Finally, Mary Oliver tells me where this field is, without knowing exactly where it is at all:
There is a place where the town ends
And the fields begin.
It’s not marked but the feet know it,
Also the heart, that is longing for refreshment
And equally, for repose.
Where is it? I ask, and then
My feet know it.
One jump, and I’m home.
I have picked up my exhausted, cranky self, and have taken off into a field. Where there is a field and its itinerant endless paths, there is an opening for a homecoming.
Today’s Advice: “Rather, one should step into the circle of language and experience which are vitally and intensely tied together, and listen belongingly (gehoren) to the sound of silence which constantly emanates from the depths of the indescribable, and continue to let this be the source of one’s own language.” Heidegger and Asian Thought, Graham Parkes