Cover image: “Reflection” photo by Neil davidson, taken at Coorabell, NSW, Australia.
Few knew I was here…
Like a geological specimen in a darkened room,
Collected, transported, lumped and split
Labelled, catalogued, and placed unceremoniously in a box with others deemed ‘similar’
My journey pre-determined to end here… in some long forgotten collection,
Losing relevance and context and gathering dust.
I couldn’t even see myself in the gloom.
Then, and who knows what prompted them,
Someone came rummaging, found my rounded, amorphous form,
And wondered, perhaps, what lay beneath, hidden.
Whatever it was—some mysterious weak-signal, some barely-audible resonant vibration—must have triggered an inkling of the merest possibility … A possibility of hidden potential… it must have attracted what still remain, to me, ambiguous, androgynous, anonymous gemmologists who sought a challenge and were willing to take a chance. I guess if I try hard enough I will see their faces.
They picked me up, freed me from my resting place, and dusted me off.
Slowly, mounted on a small pedestal and sensing interest in me for the first time in ages,
I became aware of my own existence, of a world beyond that dusty old box.
The first cuts were shallow, exploratory, seeking to gently find the material of which I was composed before probing to check whether gem-like qualities might still be preserved beneath this rough and tumbled exterior, this rounded pebble forged from cosmic stardust; just like all the others.
I can imagine the seekers wondering “what crystalline patterns and facets might be hidden, dormant; buried beneath these almost invisible, impervious layers of culture, religion, gender, privilege and conditioning?”
I felt the cuts, and some of them hurt – at first the pain was mostly in my head.
Nobody else in the box had mentioned this.
How could they, they had never experienced what I was going through now, or had they?
So I wasn’t ready, hadn’t braced myself, just like the many that had gone before me didn’t.
I didn’t even know from where and when the next cut might come.
I didn’t numb myself to the potential for pain, for I hadn’t expected it.
I learned to wait for the dim lights to come on, and to expect some attention,
But had no idea of why I was getting it. What did they see in me? What did they seek?
I felt myself shed layers of overburden as every cut revealed more of me,
What had been inside, hidden from view the whole time,
Well, for at least as long as I could remember.
Unseen others watched from the shadows
As these precious individuals diligently worked on me…
What if they found flaws that rendered me worthless?
What if one day they stopped coming… stopped cutting?
What if I was put back into the box…?
Some cuts hurt more than others…. Some were really deep… close to my heart.
I had to learn to trust those doing the cutting, for they could see me in ways I could not observe.
Each peering through their own lenses, they used their eyes to see my potentials.
You, with your deep knowledge who exposed my shallow ignorance – thankyou
You, with your sacred feminine who exposed my sacred masculine – thankyou
You, with your religious faith who exposed my ecospirituality – thankyou
You with your eco-theology who affirmed my living system complexity – thank you
You, with your psychology who exposed my hidden shadows – thankyou
You, with your hurt who exposed my capacity to care – thankyou
Each cut revealed another surface, each another plane on which to reflect.
I discovered that those administered with blunter instruments, less surgeon-like, hurt longer; some still do… and, that anaesthetic, while dimming the pain, doesn’t, cannot, heal wounds.
I discovered that those incised with love, intention and precision healed faster,
So I started to polish them, in the order that caused me the least pain.
And, as I did, the reflections got deeper, the light brighter,
And before I knew it I was welcoming new cuts,
For I could trust that my cosmic crystallography was being revealed
By those who could see my potentials.
As the light brightened I was more able to shine light into other places;
My photography deepened, my poetry deepened, my listening deepened.
Others saw this, often deeply grateful for my mindful artefacts that captured moments of beauty or pain; showing I was there, in those moments, fully-present, paying deep attention on our behalf, to those things which we all experience, or could…
Every everlasting moment, longer than a shutter click, sensing into the waves and particles coming at me, quantum potentials increasingly sensed before they happened, and lovingly captured and rearticulated to show to others the beauty, depth, colour, life, patterns, revealing themselves, wherever you look – if you pay attention.
By responding to every cut with compassion for myself and those who cut me
My capacity to see, capture, hold, refract and reflect light has been refined.
I have invited finer cuts and purer light
And feel I have grown brighter as my rounded, amorphous form has slowly revealed more facets.
So to you
You who can see how I endured the slow erosion, my time in a box defined by others,
You who can see beneath the shrouded layers that dimmed my potentials
You who can see the deep cuts and the pain, now healing
You who can see how I turned pain into light
You who can see my many facets
You who can see how your light already shines through me
And you who can see the parts still to work on, the next cuts to make
You, with your love, who exposed my ability to love again – thankyou
You bring me the purest light; which, when shone on me,
Reveals my brilliance by shining in your eyes, and through my facets with such focus
That it will reveal to others, what I have become and we are becoming,
And what we, together, can achieve, when we light each other up.
We will reveal to them that, while trapped in darkness, in their boxes,
Each with their own many unrealized potentials,
They too can become gems with many facets to illuminate the emerging whole
If they endure and learn to have compassion for those who cut and those who see them.
Thank you, for your love, for your light,
And thank you, for your transformative life-affirming presence that heals and reveals.
11 July 2019
“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.
A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.
A soul mate’s purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master…”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
Wonderful related article on Gratitude – https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2021/08/tragic-optimism-opposite-toxic-positivity/619786/?fbclid=IwAR1UcKgpKFUXqGMkkhv6-2zdiralXFKts4u37Je2ms7RPs6p7PNxyrnr2Rc
“Our hurt is not something to suppress, or seek a distraction from. Our tears can be a truth that we can integrate into our being. Then we can be honest with each other about the path ahead. Because it is a path of both despair and dedication. Paying attention fully to what is around us and in front of us, even though it hurts, is to be fully alive. As Kahlil Gibran wrote, “the deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” There is a calling we are hearing, to witness the beauty of life on Earth, even as so much is being lost, in the same way we would tend the bedside of a dying loved one.”
Our power comes from acting without escape from our pain
Gail Bradbrook, Jem Bendell, originally published by Resilience.org
July 30, 2020
Disembodied head above the surface
Sunken body motionless
Despite the nips of countless fish come to taste this large human sacrifice
Laid-out in their shrinking, sacred waters
As the burning sun dipped behind Mt Allan.
I felt the heat of the day—of the whole unrelentingly drying and frying week—draining from me
As the water’s coolth seeped in; in this, the deepest spot,
Beside the long, green wall of water-weed rising vertically
Providing cover for the shy Mary River turtles who seek solace here, and
Whose endangered nose-tips I’ve seen breathing at this fluid juncture between the rocky-bottom and the cool, clear water.
“No ripples” I tell myself, mindfully…
A self-imposed discipline in this wild and sacred place
As Agile Wallabies approach; first one, and then two,
Cautious, alert; grey ears pricking at any sound from the forest.
My face level with theirs as they look toward me;
Large rear haunches up, as they lean their pretty faces down and drink,
Drink from the shallowing pool edge, where more water weeds are stranded daily
By the falling water level and each circumference-shrinking sip
Long; slow; deep draughts to slake their thirst.
Finally, after patiently filling, they rose, looked around, licked their paws, and bounded off into the crisp-dry fallen leaves of the creek bed,
Leaving me immersed in air and water, and the liminal darkening time zone between
Where water beetles dodged each other like a precision sports-car team
And long-legged water boatmen dented the water,
Walking on inverted clouds and rainforest reflections, bending the fading light
Where their feet poked the un-pierced surface tension
Creating dimpled silvery menisci in the space-time-light continuum at this air-water interface through which I quietly protruded.
Below, barely visible, tiny fish;
Nibbling my tickled skin and forming goose-bumps as if I were a giant cod and they were cleaner-wrasse…
And, as dusk descended, the cicadas shrilled one last deafening, triumphant, cacophonous chorus and then fell silent…. So silent…
It was like the end of an Act… should I applaud?
I honoured the silence…. And what a silence…
Is there anything more silent than the pause in the collective soundscape after a mass dusk cicada crescendo…
As sounds returned, I heard surprised thought say “hey… they didn’t see me…!”
….Or, did they…?
They’d certainly taken their time, drunk their fill… as if I wasn’t there…
Because they sensed I was no threat?
Because I made no ripples?
Because they too, knew, soon there would be none,
And they sensed, as I did, that we—every-living-thing assembled here—would bow to honour the ritual of this sacred sharing…?
At home now, in Brisbane, one hundred and fifty kilometres south,
As the smoke from too many fires turns parched suburbia orange
I reflect on the too-dry forests, and the shrinking pools, and the tinder-box conditions
And my tears well-up…
Imagine if, as each tear welled, and swelled, and slipped away
Each free-falling gentle teardrop, drop-by-miniscule-drop, could splash and leave a ripple
A ripple, then another, then ripple after ripple
Enough to refill that sacred pool,
Enough to satisfy those dependent on its cool clear waters
Enough to replenish that which has filled me more than once
So that the cycle of love, mutuality and life could continue…
I will keep crying…. For I believe,
In my soul…
That my tears will make a difference….
Even as the fires keep coming.
[Started at 6.37pm, Saturday 7 December 2019, as Australia’s record fires continued unabated, and bushfires burned closer to the rainforest at Booloumba Creek, Mary Valley, Queensland; completed in Brisbane, several days later]
“Crying is one of the highest devotional songs. One who knows crying, knows spiritual practice. If you can cry with a pure heart, nothing else compares to such a prayer. Crying includes all the principles of Yoga.” ~ Kripalvananda
For more information about author, photographer and activist Neil Davidson go to his website AND NOW WHAT