The Untamed

Photo by Ludvig Hedenborg on

This week has been a very busy, challenging week, in a year that has really been challenging at times. In my years as a mental health therapist, I’ve never had the demand and intensity for services to be as great as it is this year. The experience of sitting with people and being able to present and really hear their stories, is a journey. There are days when I imagine that my job is to take people into the ‘underworld,’ into the darkest parts of themselves, into their secrets, they’re subconscious, into their emotions that they fear more than anything. Most people fear this journey more than anything. There are days when I take nine to ten trips into that world with people. There is one rule. The rule is that, whoever the guide is, they will never be able to use the skills they use with others on themselves. It’s not possible. We all need a guide to escort us into our own journey. We view that world, often imagined with loss, grief, guilt, fear, etc. as darkness. The one thing you learn by leading people into that darkness repeatedly is that it is secretly the path to light. Only through our darkness, do we often discover our light, our strength, our joy. When you are the guide, you are there to see them through their darkness until they are able to see the light within it. You can’t be scared. You can’t go into their own darkness. You can just hold the light. There are moments that scare you, but you don’t show it. Your job is to be comfortable in whatever that darkness holds. It’s not easy. How they manage or the routes they choose are not your decision. You often can see the quickest path, but they must navigate. You will just guide and hold the light. It can be exhausting going once in a day. It’s exhausting to go back multiple times. Each time, you must hold the light in the same way that you did for the first person, even if it’s your tenth trip of the day and you’re tired. Sometimes being a therapist feels like this. When I was thinking about what poem to post today, this poem stood out. I wrote it last fall. It was something I didn’t think I’d ever post because it was sort of this prose poem that came to me. I often have to find ways, in my mind, to summon strength or to find quiet after a long day. There’s always been this side of me that has really associated with this wild archetype, this warrior who lives off the land, who is fearless and brave. I think I wanted to understand why I use that archetype. I was also studying astrology and learning more about it. I have a Pisces sun, which I’ve always related to. My ascendant or rising sign is Aries. It’s ruled by Mars. It’s the warrior archetype of the zodiac. I struggled to see that in myself. It was toward the end of the year and I was talking to a friend who is an actual astrologer for a living and I was commenting on how I actually had a pretty good year in 2020. She said quickly, ‘that’s the Aries in you.’ Then she recounted many incidents in my life where I was physically down (sick or knocked down), and stated, ‘but you don’t show it. You come back faster than anyone. It’s like you could be lit on fire and you’d emerge and continue on.’ I started to see more of that archetype in myself, which related back to this feeling of having some ‘untamed, wild part of my soul.’ I always dream of being this strong person who physically could survive and live off the land. I felt like I needed to understand why I would go to that fantasy in my head. I started writing and, as I did, I began to see why I connect with that archetype. We are very different, but we also have some similarities. It’s now an archetype that I feel like I understand better. It’s an archetype I can summon when I’m on my sixth trip to the underworld, exhausted, and I have four more trips in the day booked that I call upon. This poem is sort of our introduction to each other.

“The Untamed”

When I close my eyes, I can feel him. Inhabiting every cell of my being. It’s a great mystery, in the nature of his character. Much like the Montana sky, it’s a mystery how much he
sees where the sky ends and the horizon is born. Is it possible to be so aware of yourself, you sacrifice those you love, for you know anyone who rubs against you will break. Boulders
of heart shattered into tiny arrowheads, with sharp edges capable of slicing right through the being of someone, even after years of not seeing you. There are hero’s in life and
the men who raise them. There are brothers to those heroes and lovers to those heroes, but few men are truly wild. When they are, is it a sickness brought to their heart by
time and circumstance or are some men born with the blood of grizzly flowing through their veins? I’ve never found a world that feels natural to me, in real life. So when I
close my eyes, it’s easy to inhabit an alternative reality where he exists. A world where he can tame wild horses and get lost for hours in a landscape rugged, harsh, vast, and empty.
As some men can write great letters, others calculate the monies of nations, or lead civil rights movements, I do not know why I cannot dream myself in their situations or bodies.
I can only see this rugged, strong handsome man, capable of wrestling all that threatens his wild existence to sleep with his bare hands. He has no dream of magnificence,
yet he casts a subtle spell over those he encounters. It’s one thing to be handsome and another to be the river so clear and clean it glistens when you stare at it. There’s
A sparkle that almost winks at you. If you’ve ever been to one of these rivers, it starts with the urgency, a need to touch it. The need grows into desperation to wade in the river and suddenly, you’re
submerged, questioning how and why you’ve allowed yourself to get in this river. While you’re in it, it does not matter the temperature, the clothes you’ve ruined, your teeth chattering…
Some strange thing happens, like when light finds its way into a canyon, and you are possessed by being in the presence of such a moment. He has that power or maybe it feels
like it because he is off the earth. He doesn’t see it, but people drown in him. I wonder why he is my alternative reality. Sometimes, I feel his soul in mine. The dream is that I could be
in such peace with my body and be that strong. The reality is, I might not be built to lift hay or wrestle wild animals, but I can carry your life in my hands. I am built for that.
I am built to hold grief and anger and sadness. I can carry emotions. I am built to hold your toughest prayers. I too know the strongest souls are the loneliest souls. I know
what it’s like to feel only truly understood by the earth from which I’m born. That restlessness, the ability to hold a lot of things, means leaving things behind. It means
people will and are going to break against you. I think we both know we are landmasses that will be worn and eroded day after day, wave after wave, and in our own ways
the greatest tragedy of our lives is that no footprint of impact ever stays. Another might come, but none will stay, so it’s strange to close my eyes and have a secret life as him
because he does not gain love or forevers. He gains nothing. His convictions change like the tides. He just has a habitat and a body for the legend. In him, I see the
personification of the strength I carry. He’s an avatar for the restless spirit, who can hold the broken. You don’t wrestle the grizzlies of this world and not have scars.

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