The Wilderness Passage is Enacted in a Benighted State
We on our wilderness passage are blind. We’re acting out. We’re clueless.
I know I was.
I had no idea I was even in the wilderness, let alone that it was a passage. All I knew was that I was on a train and, no matter what I tried or how hard I tried it, I couldn’t get off.
This is as it should be.
Consider the parameters of a Wilderness Passage.
The reason it starts for you and me is because we, in our ignorance, have pushed ourselves so far away from where we should be that the rubber band has snapped. Our own “life” (very definitely in quotation marks) has ejected us. We have blown up our marriage, lost our job, gotten sent to jail. Our own life has cast us out into the void.
By definition we are clueless.
By definition we are in denial.
If we weren’t in denial of who we really are, we wouldn’t have been kicked out into the wilderness in the first place.
In a way, this blog post and everything else I or anyone else mighty seek to communicate on this subject is wasted breath. The man or woman in the midst of their passage can’t hear us.
Again, this is as it should be.
The mouse in the maze has no choice but to bang head-first into all the walls. That’s how she learns.
And yet, as we said a few posts ago, we are not alone in this labyrinth. A goddess is with us. My old friend John McCown had a great metaphor for this. He said the goddess taps us first with a feather. When that doesn’t work, she swats us with a nerf bat. Then her bare hand, pow, across the face.
When that still makes no dent, she gets out the two-by-four and plants it full-force right between our eyes.
We wake up face-down in the gutter with an empty bottle of Jack Daniels beside us. “Oh? Really? I guess I DO have a drinking problem.”
In other words, the state of benightedness in which we pass through the wilderness is our own doing. Like Jonah in the Bible, we are in deliberate flight from that person, that calling, that gift that we know is us, is our truest and best self. We’re in flight for the same reason everyone is. Because it’s freakin’ SCARY to live out that person/life/gift!
Our passage through the wilderness will continue in blindness until we come face-to-face with something (whatever that Something may be) that is even scarier than being or becoming who were were meant to be—and who we have been all along.
P.S. My story of my own passage through the wilderness—GOVT CHEESE: A Memoir—became available for preorder on 12/6. Pub date: 12/30. Signed first edition hardbacks can be pre-ordered at www.stevenpressfield.com.