Pandemic Diary: How to escape in the dark

Twelve steps

Step one:

Study your captor, your gatekeeper - the one who patrols the edges of your freedom. Pay attention. Learn how the prison guard thinks.

Step two:

Forget the prison guard. You don't need the prison guard. Fuck the prison guard. He is not real - that was never what kept you stuck in the tower/the castle/the marriage/the dead end job.

Step three:

Walk out -
right into the dark.

It's the only way.

In fact, you can skip steps one and two.

But you won't. You still believe in steps.

Step Four,
which is really step one. But who's counting?
Not you. You haven't been paying attention.

This is how you've survived. Shutting down the part of you which, if it were allowed to, would go off like an alarm, shrieking: get out get out get out .

Well, she's awake now. And you're listening.

So, anyway.
I was about to give Step Four.

Before I do
remove your shoes.

Inhale. Exhale.

Step four:

Step five is the same.
only deeper.

Down down down.


into your senses,

into your body,

plumb the wild wisdom depth

of your own


Step Six:
Drop your mask, your cloak, your dress.

Leave your pretense strewn across the floor

as you

move downward,

move forward.

Go on.
You know you wanna
swim naked
(breast stroke is nice)

and feel the darkness, smooth and thick

as velvet, moving around you, moving inside you,

warm as brandy,

warm as blood


thick and rich,

amniotic and everywhere

around you.

Step Seven:

Realize (at some point you will) that you can breathe underwater. A while after that, you will realize that you are diving through the flesh of your own heart.

Feelings will rise now.

Shame, disgust, rage and then, grief.
All the icky eeeewwwww that must show itself is here.

You can endure this. It leads to

Step Eight,

where you will finally notice the shadows:

the ancestors whispering,

the princesses pouting

the knights riding horses back and forth

across a stage.

There are lanterns everywhere.

You don't know where to look (you know exactly where to look)
You aren’t sure you’re ready to look
as they approach,
oars slowly slapping against the lake,
singing their echoing song.

You will dream now
of scholars studying, fairies dancing,
a merchant offering bread to a hungry child.

You will dream now
of cornfields drying,
fires burning beside the ocean,
and priestesses braiding and un-braiding their hair.

In these dreams,
you will walk and walk,
climbing hills, searching caves,
as a clockwork of druids,
brown-robed and silent,
moves, backlit by fire light,
back and forth,
and in and out
of rooms.

They are carrying lanterns.
So many lanterns.
What’s with the lanterns?

This will fascinate and frustrate you.
This will take a while. That's okay.
They have all the time in the world
And now, so do you.

Step Nine:
There's a rowboat (rudderless, with room for one alone.)
Climb in.

Feel the whoosh as they push,
and the shhhhhhh as you slide
and the ahhhh as you slow
and come to rest
on the mirror smooth surface
of the lake.

but not moving,
but nowhere,
propelled by something,
you do not yet (never will) understand.

As you float, invent a little
(remember an enormous)
prayer. (Repeat after me):

You are not alone. (I am not alone.)
In the dark unknown. (In the dark unknown.)
Here. There. Everywhere. (Here, there, everywhere.)
Wherever you are She is (Wherever I am, She is)

Don't forget this.
(You will forget this.)
You will need this
(and you’ll remember it then)
to get through

Step 10:

The Silence.

The Loneliness.

The Unimaginable sorrow.

I am not alone. In the dark unknown. Wherever I am, She is.

Step 11:
Morning. (But this is morning underwater. Light streaking through the murky depth.)
Opening. (Eyes, nose, gills.)

Breathing. Breathing. Breathing.

As you take it all in.
The extraordinary beauty of the world.

All of this.

All of this.

And all of it for you.

Walk across the lake (this will work now)
and meet the one
who is walking across the lake to meet you.

All that is left now, is
the great surprise.
of looking into your own eyes.

And of course,

Step 12:

The Sinking.

Full Surrender as

the whale echo ancestor song takes you apart.

All the steps are gone.

You are ready now.

Descend into Her.