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When Things Get Real

We are leaving the balanced moment of the equinox and falling towards a new moon. The sky above me is all bruises and brights. The trees are tarnishing. I accepted today that I had to let go of something I'd been working towards with no progress. I still wish for it, but my life at the moment simply doesn't support the effort. Trying instead to find a new way, I opened my file on the heroine's mythic journey and read about letting go. 

I rediscovered that letting go is spoken of in the season of deepening autumn, the very season unfurling outside my house right now ... the month of April which is almost upon us ... the moon of sparrows. It always makes me smile when I realise yet again that I'm in a long quiet conversation with the blessed universe.

This is the brief description of Sparrow Moon, a late waymarker on the heroine's road ...

Change always brings inner consequences. The heroine must release her old wishes, accepting now that they will not come and the world is different from how she imagined it would be. She must also let go of all that is no longer needed, lay down her sword, and bury the dragon's bones so they may nurture future growth. It is like autumn leaves are falling, and she is a mature, if weary, middle-aged woman. Once again she is facing her grief, but more deeply, for she better appreciates now what she had truly sacrificed for the sake of a better future. This is the Sparrow Moon, when things get real.

For months now, I have been trying to draw the dragon from its lair. I am in love with the poetry etched on its great stone teeth. I dream of seeing its wings, gem-scabbed and pocked with gold, making new constellations as it flies. But my efforts have been continuously diverted by the various real life requirements. I have to decide now if I will let the dragon lie and turn instead to sparrows, moths, smaller magics. Even if just for a while. 

There's a story going round that if you wish hard enough for something, you can make it happen. I don't believe that. Sometimes you can, but other times you can't, and that's just life. When a wish is not working, what helps is to accept that reality, and contemplate why exactly it isn't working, and learn what will work instead. Maybe you need to change your life so it better supports the wish. Maybe you could make the same wish only smaller - or an altogether different wish that will lead you down a path you never knew existed. Or maybe do no wishing at all for the moment, just resting, just peace.

After all, farmers don't seed every field every year. Some, they leave fallow. 

Waymarkers along the road aren't there to tell us which way to go. They simply mark that there is a road. If you have to change your choices, that's not failure. It's seeing obstacles, mud puddles, briars, and doing what is needed to avoid them. Because although I'm talking myth and metaphor here, the fact is our actual lives are rife with obstacles, and we have to get real about them so we can keep moving. Cut through the briars by all means - they might be there to strengthen your determination. But if you can't get through, you just can't. Maybe the blessed universe put them there to protect you. Let go : release the old wish, move on. 

illustrations by angela barrett


  1. ah, life just now seems over-full of letting go. yet you are right to remind us of it. we have less control of things than we think...and where i live, it is meant to be the spring time, the opening forth, and yet, for some things and people here, it has been a pruning and a death time. too young. spring feels out of synch, somehow... i shall practice letting go.

    1. i'm beginning to see more and more how little control we have over things, and how it can be beautiful to accept that.

  2. 'tis the season for letting go with the autumn leaves, I read these thoughts on home in “The Operating Instructions” by Ursula Le Guin in her collection of essays and talks on the writer, the reader and the imagination “The Wave in the Mind (p208)
    “… Home isn’t where they have to let you in. It’s not a place at all. Home is imaginary.
    Home, imagined, comes to be. It is real, realer than any other place, but you can’t get to it unless your people show you how to imagine it – whoever your people are. They may not be your relatives. They may never have spoken your language. They may have been dead for a thousand years. They may be nothing but words printed on paper, ghosts of voices, shadows of minds. But they can guide you home. They are your human community.
    All of us have to learn how to invent our lives, make them up, imagine them. We need to be taught those skills; we need guides to show us how. If we don’t, our lives get made up for us by other people.

    Nobody can do anything very much, really, alone.
    What a child needs, what we all need, is to find some other people who have imagined life along lines that make sense and allow some freedom, and listen to them. Not hear passively, but listen.
    Listening is an act of community, which takes space, time, and silence.
    Reading is a means of listening.”
    thank you for making this quiet space in the web of light to read and listen well

  3. A great quote from ursula, thank you :-)

  4. Absolutely beautiful. This spoke straight to my heart today, and some things in my life, and I am so grateful for how beautifully and compassionately you've shared this truth here. x

    1. Thank you :-) I'm glad it was helpful, and I appreciate so much your kind words.


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