I used to dream of forests, asleep and awake. Dense groves of ancient giants, gilded domes of oak and maple, stands of slender aspens, bearing silent witness, swaying to a breath. Wild, hidden places where life feels more alive, at once intense and restorative. Where my outline might be found within a profusion of stalks, branches and brambles, swifter than a hunter a hare. Where I would look up to a night sky unobstructed, save for leaves and clouds. And the full moon in still pools would be my clearest reflection. Where I might find my true home, far from indifferent gazes and cold voices, swallowed up in obscurity, yet encompassed in the fullness of unrestrained growth.
Now I dream of cities, sprawling up to horizons, bordered by austere deserts and vast oceans. Silvery skyscrapers rising up higher than limbs could ever allow. Not restricted by atmosphere or surface, they set down roots, deeper and deeper underground. Mazes of intersecting tunnels growing so intricate they resemble tangled snarls, delivering people swifter than water and nutrients to places of need and desire. Cities where I may drown in anonymity, yet resurface anew, drawn by nets of the fiercest imaginings stronger than the visible.
I used to imagine minds as if they were houses or buildings. All with a façade, a front door and a back. Sometimes, you are led into a spartan room, barely furnished, where the only open door is the entrance. Sometimes all the doors are open, many rooms are full of light and music, lavish and luxurious. Sometimes the back rooms are neglected, they are cold, covered in grime and you can’t wait to leave. Sometimes the front door is reserved only for a few. Sometimes all the doors are locked, there is only a glimmer from a window, and sometimes someone stands there looking out.
Now I’ve come to believe minds are more like forests. The largest trees are discernible from a distance, thick and well-nourished with care and attention. They soak-up the sunlight of recognition and dominate nearly every impression. Yet, within those well-cultivated groves, and quite astounding in their multitude, are shoots, stalks and vines of incredible variety burgeoning in ever-growing heaps, in every open space, crevice and dark corner, tangling in pockets of wild disorder, all struggling for a place among the strong. All possibilities: from the most tender bud to the driest vine, fresh and old, new and tried, all there and eager, striving for their place and time. Streaks of despair, rage and terror alongside those of beauty, intelligence and wisdom, all waiting to be chosen, to grow and to thrive.
We can never fully tame ourselves of this wildness, it is as much a part of us as the forest its air, as the city its streets. As the light must draw its own shadow.
Text and images by M.P. Baecker ©2018.