Out of the Shallows

He called me shallow. Instead of rolling my eyes and ignoring him, I’ve tried to understand what he means. Among other things, I think it means that the work I need to do is going to be more below the surface. It means that my normal cleverness and logic will not be of much use.

It’s one of those things where we both know what it takes to get better, but there’s a large gap between knowing and doing. It’s like trying to float down a river, but your hull keeps getting stuck on things you can’t see. How do you solve that? Get down in the water and guide the boat while taking a chance with the river’s inhabitants? Dredge the river? Watch the water intently and try to decipher the subtle language of ripples and currents? Some of all three probably. ¬†However it happens, you have to resign yourself to the idea that progress will not be as fast or as easy as it looks from above.

I’ve done shadow work before. I have a pretty good idea of what’s hiding in this particular river. I’m even pretty good at swimming. I’m used to the unnerving screech of submerged branches against the hull. I cringe, reposition my weight, and keep going, while hoping that the scratches weren’t too bad this time. All in a day’s work, right?

Every obstacle we get past is one less in the way. With that attitude I can almost look forward to them. That doesn’t mean that getting over one sand bar means sandbars are defeated forever. I guarantee there will be more. But that one, on that day, is over.

But there is more to this than defeating the negatives. The more water there is, the easier it is to navigate. We’re less likely to get stuck on every little thing. We pray for rain. We try to keep the boat in good shape. We practice and build up our skills. We look at the map and take note of what progress has been made. We learn to appreciate the river itself.

He told me to cut my hair short. I used to associate putting my hair up with getting things done. Now it’s always up. He told me to build virtual homes and landscapes. I always put gardens in. I don’t think it matters what it looks like or who sees it. Embedding the concept of building in my subconscious is what he’s after. Life, beauty, light and shadow. What do I create? What do I want? What do I need? How do I start over again? (We seem to be going for the benevolent mad wizard aesthetic.)

I managed to get Clifford off the cliff and into the boat. I have a feeling that if I can get him to reestablish his place in the Duat it will end up being both freaky and fun. Expect gardens, and fire, and water, and probably some bending of the laws of  physics.



What happens when you can’t make up your mind? Part of you wants one thing, and the other part wants something else? If you’re in a human body, you’re pretty much stuck. It has to be one or the other. You can’t be in two places at once.

Gods and spirits, and people wandering around without their shells, don’t have to play by those rules. They can do both.

(TW: self harm, suicide)

Once upon a time, there was a dreamer who became enamored with the Thunder Being. They say that anyone who sees the Thunder Being will go insane. They say that the Thunder Being is so ugly that s/he was ordered to hide among the clouds. They are wrong of course. The Thunder Being is the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen. They also say that love is a form of madness. But this isn’t a tale of romance.

They talk as if Wakinyan chooses her “victims” at random, but I doubt that’s the case. Lightning appears random, but in truth, it strikes where it is most wanted, where it has an open path. That path may be invisible to us, but she can see it clearly. She found a dreamer whose truth was a lie which was also the truth. That was too bad for her to pass up.

She tried to talk to the dreamer before. She shook the sky on the day when they lit the fire. When steam rose in the darkness, her fire burned within the dreamer, hotter than the glowing rocks. When the dreamer called to her in a dream, she came, threatening to destroy everything false in her path. But the dreamer did not respond. Why not?

One evening, the clouds gathered around. The Thunder Being’s messengers dove in the air, in and out, catching their meals and returning to their nests. The dreamer thought about stories that had the Thunder Being in them, stories written by one who shouldn’t write such things. Would he be punished? Should he? Was it wrong for an outsider to be so obsessed? The dreamer saw the gathering darkness and the flashes of light. If the Thunder Being wanted to kill him, that would have been a good time.

The dreamer smiled. That confused him. He didn’t want to die! But the thought of having the Thunder Being notice him at all, even if it was just to kill him, brought a smile to his face.

I said it was a lie, though, didn’t I? Wakinyan is a healer. Wakinyan destroys things. Both of those are true. The dreamer wanted to die. She hurt him badly and he begged for more. He fought without fear. He was afraid of everything. He acted like he didn’t care as his heart overflowed. She taught him how to be alive. And then she killed him.

The dreamer and the Thunder Being stood together. They had been through a lot together. The dreamer was absolute in his devotion. Then the Thunder Being ordered him to fight. The dreamer was horrified. The thought of raising a had to his mentor was unthinkable! But the Thunder Being insisted.

The dreamer drew a knife against his skin and dropped blood upon the earth as he was taught. You don’t fight unless you’re willing to bleed. He fought with all the love, fury, and sadness in his heart, and when he looked up, the Thunder Being was gone. He fought himself instead. With the battle already begun, he did not back down. If it was a thing he must do, then he would do it. Finally, he killed his other self. He killed the one who wanted to die.

Staring in shock at what he had done, he sat down on a rock. Wakinyan sat next to him and offered the worst, cheapest, dirtiest cigarette he could find. They smoked together as they watched the body sink into the earth. The dreamer didn’t realize it at the time, but their work together had come to an end.

Do I stay or do I go? The answer is “both.”