Unsettlement

Having set out this virtual stall, I’ve found little to say here. Thankfully, the words of others have flowed in to lend it shape and sustenance. More than once I’ve reached an edge where I toy with abandoning this blog and meticulously deleting every trace of it. But I need this place between stories to go on existing, as much as I can’t be bothered, wish it didn’t. I live in it as a promise made and not broken, for as long as it remains unfulfilled.

Long stretches of my life pass when nothing rises to the surface and suggests itself to be written down. If I grab at a calculus which values only that which becomes, sooner or later, writing, these times are void. In them I forget the dark matters of the untold, and of gestation.

***

For much of this past year, I’ve been blithely orienting myself by the expectation that I would find a place to put down roots, to come home. I grabbed at an already-woven pattern of settled life, and expected it to enfold me, let it tug me along because it seemed to promise a hard-wrought virtue, the right way to live in these times. Rooted, relocalised, reintegrated by stages into the bedrock substance of my homeland.

The various efforts I put into securing this settlement were thwarted at every turn. Upon the third, definitive turn, I finally shook awake and began (am still beginning) to admit that the rootedness which I’d too safely assumed was my duty and lot simply wasn’t. At least not for the time being, or not in the places where I’d been looking to find it.

Where I am now going is the last place I expected: back around in a near-perfect circle to Berlin. Back – or forwards – into further transit and transition, suspension and storage facility. The unsure urban footing of the urban foreigner with her one suitcase permitted on board. To the place where much of what matters to me here in fact began.

***

Going around in these circles I question why I’m here, what it’s making of me, and most of all how not to keep deceiving myself and grabbing onto the edges of stories as if they were lifebuoys. Perhaps because they’re the wrong stories – stories that don’t truly belong or sing to me – or because I place in them the wrong kind of faith, as a recourse to get once and for all to the bottom of the world.

For this brief moment worth sharing, I learn over again that the place between stories is not an anteroom, where you hang around, listless and inadequate, until normal, storied service is resumed. It’s a state of holding at arm’s length every single story that suggests itself, of slowly learning not to force it to fit, of hearing the piper’s beguiling tune and sensing when not to follow it, where you would be led to be saved, and then drown.

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2 thoughts on “Unsettlement

  1. dear Cat, this reminds me of Victor Frankl and something he suggested in the pages of his book, Man’s Search for Meaning: to consider not what we expect of our lives but what our lives expect of us. Please don’t delete the place between stories – it is a witness to your adventure, like Bilbo Baggins shutting the door of his hobbit hole and surrendering himself to there and back again.

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