Some people walk this earth in delight, constantly at awe at the beauty that surrounds them, ever joyous of the wonder of nature. Mary Oliver, the poet,is one of those souls who marvels at the glories to be found at her feet, in the grass, in the air, on a fence. Her poetry delights me.
But I am not Mary Oliver.
When Iwas very young , there was a spot about 20 miles out of town called Fairyland.It was a lovely wooded area that was meant to capture the magic of some of the fairy tales we were all brought with- Snow White, Hansel and Grettle, wishing wells, witches… but to me it was not magic. When children had a birthday party it was the place to take all the guests to. From the highway you could see little houses painted in bright cheerful colors, paths winding enchantedly through the woods -all very sweet and mysterious. But once inside these woods the fanciful facade of mystery slipped away and it became a place of menace and darkness and cruel surprise- voices would cackle and no one would be seen, doors would creak, but not move, witches would jump out and come running at you only to run behind a small building and disappear. It was terrifying.
I think of Life this very same way and on reflection, I realize Fairyland has always been the perfect metaphor: life is a path through the woods that only appears to be lovely, only appears to be safe. Instead it is replete with claws and teeth and razored armor that is unleashed and unveiled sporadically, surprisingly and lethally. The good that happens is illusory, short-lived and without long term effect.
The Japanese have a word-sabishisa- which means an essential and pervasive sense of aloneness. it is a good word to describe Fairyland, to describe life… no matter how much we are able to cushion our walk through it, the reality is that we are alone. No matter how brightly the sun shines or how wonderful the air smells when it rains, the sun shines and the rain falls on individuals. Alone. No matter how many children accompany you on your birthday trip to Fairyland, when the witch jumps out, when the voices cackle, they cackle for you alone. and you are terrified.