Since the holidays, my 11-year-old daughter and I have played The Enchanted Forest just about every night. Each round of the game is different, involving only a few things: a journey and remembering what’s beneath each tree. A red cap. A glass slipper. A gold star. Who wins or doesn’t hardly matters in this game; it’s just fun.
On the not-so-fun spectrum, when my marriage broke up, I knew this was not a matter of winning or losing, but there was an enormous gray area I wanted to emerge from in a way I’ll describe as “least soulfully damaged.” Perhaps one of the few things I’ve learned is that there are no winners in this life at all, either in our intimate realms or the political world. That knife of mortality cuts across all of us, from Trump Towers to Rio’s dump dwellers. But it does seem to me that there are better ways than others to emerge from the firestorm of life we all come to, at certain points in our lives.
In our world, the threads of discontent are so manifest, and the threat of widespread societal violence and misery so palpably real. We may be entering the lightless trek of our forested journey, and yet, I myself know, through my own hard-earned experience, that our reserves of faith and empathy are far, far mightier than we might ever envision. I’d like to believe that’s a spring we may draw from, without cease.
Here’s a few lines from one of my favorite poems.
This is the season of mud and thrash, broken limbs and crushed briers
from the winter storms, wetness and rust,
the season of differences, articulable differences that signify
deeper and inarticulable and almost paleolithic
perplexities in our lives, and still
we love one another. We love this house
and this hillside by the highway in upstate New York.
I am too old to write love songs now. I no longer
assert that I love you, but that you love me,
confident in my amazement. The spring
will come soon. We will have more birthdays
with cakes and wine. This valley
will be full of flowers and birds.
Hayden Carruth, “Birthday Cake”