Ungrounded: Moving Forward When Nothing Holds


Inspired by the latest ”must read” blog of PJ Reece, http://www.pjreece.ca/blog/wordpress/ill-go-anywhere-as-long-as-it-is-forward I decided to share my reaction to an image of a compelling protagonist in the kind of story we humans are craving. Why? Because we will all—one day—“run out of geography.”
Layered over and under my mind, is an image I once saw.
Years ago in a far off land, I caught my breath and stopped to wonder at a painting. Surely it is a very famous work that I can find again, I thought. Yes, I find the painting over and over, for it is hanging in my mind.  Almost every day it surfaces, wanting to be seen and shared.
Imagine the scene with me.
A sphere fills much of the canvas, darkness all around it—a planet laced about with a trail through forests, over hills, lost in canyons, tracing seas; clearly it shows the way traveled by an old man who has come to world’s edge (oh see, his eyes shine with visions as he looks forward) bent with age and the trials of blazing his path— and he is about to step off the earth. Indeed the ground is falling away under his cane, as he hobbles onward.
I feel I could paint this scene. It is that vivid. The man speaks these words to me:
Another step— I must now take.
Hear the call?
What is solid, is no more,
Crumbling away beneath me.
Feel the rumble of stones rolling whence I came,
Taunting me with echoes of, “Go back.”
Still I go forward through delicious fear
To what I do not know.
Behind me —behold my path
Twisting up mountains, climbed —but never high enough
Plunging down valleys, fertile, scented with life, and tasting of abundance —that never satisfies my hunger
And the rivers, the oceans, with my track running alongside and over, Living waters that break against my still thirsty heart.
My tortured trail marks my legacy, and ends —
With the step—
I must now take.

Have you ever been in this place of needing to go forward, yet not knowing how  to do so in this world—in your world—in what in the world, for nothing holds.   And if so, can you write about it? If you are a writer, does your protagonist come to this place in your story-this place PJ Reece calls—the dark heart of the story? Clearly, it requires stepping through a “magic door.” Please comment.

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2 thoughts on “Ungrounded: Moving Forward When Nothing Holds”

  1. Sue… what’s the matter with people? Are you and I the only ones who find the “going forward” through the void to be “the greatest human achievement,” as suggested by the Greek mystic/author Nikos Kazantzakis…

    1. No PJ. I think Jesus would agree and others who realize we are not just “dust in the wind.” Winston Churchill said “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” I remember the theme song for the Poseidon Adventure sung by Maureen Mcgovern: “There’s got to be a morning after
      If we can hold on through the night.” Let’s hold on to this idea—for life without hope—now there is a void—a void too dark.

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