The world you live in—your nation, your people—is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.

You have gone almost all the way yourself. Life is a continuing process, a flow, not a succession of acts and events at all. It has flowed to a new level, carrying you with it, without any effort on your part. On this new level you live, you have been living more comfortably every day, with new morals, new principles. You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things that your father, even in Germany, could not have imagined.

Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing). You remember those early meetings of your department in the university when, if one had stood, others would have stood, perhaps, but no one stood. A small matter, a matter of hiring this man or that, and you hired this one rather than that. You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.

What then? You must then shoot yourself. A few did. Or ‘adjust’ your principles. Many tried, and some, I suppose, succeeded; not I, however. Or learn to live the rest of your life with your shame. This last is the nearest there is, under the circumstances, to heroism: shame.

–  They Thought They Were Free

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to change; to accept change. That’s why you struggle, grip, claw, and cling. It can feel like you’ve wasted time, so you hold onto it, and try to forget the voice in the back of your head (the one that you deny because it calls you to change). Sometimes it’s giving up your home, your sense of belonging, the quiet comforts of familiarity. You can feel like a house having your walls slowly ripped out, but that’s better than being a fire having its flames smothered out…

I kept returning to the pairs, the complements; fire and water, morning and night, clouded and clear. I can see it though I’m not sure I understand it. Why does light feel so much like something? Why does the darkness feel so much like nothing?

I drew the curtains, put a pillow on the floor, and sat down. Stiff and stretched breaths, where the spine was tightly drawn. Back further, deeper, his arms, and her feeling safe. The tears that slowly rolled down my face felt like marbles, with weight.

My chest physically hurt in a way that confused me. An overrun garden – the ribs had split through the heart and circled back around, constricting like Ivy. Yet, through the thorns and prickled brambles, I still felt that softness. Spaces where even silk or butterflies could grow.

A winding, dirt road, narrow enough for only one car, and to the left a steep precipice. Coming to a plateau, I’d stopped and realised the sounds. The wind cutting through the silent mountains and the deafening cicadas, as if they were echoing through the valley. Descending then, another hour more, until I began to smell the salt through the pine trees. Sougia’s village was almost still untouched, with only a handful of small hotels. A wide, stone beach stretched down to a cove. Hippies had tents and hammocks lined between the Tamarisk trees, their raw bodies sheltered between the rocks. I swam naked, out beyond. That Mediterranean blue like electricity or heroin. Past the largest rock of the cove, the temperature dropped so rapidly that it startled me. Diving under, recognising that the water was much deeper, and the floor was now lost. Remembering the words, I watched the clouds while floating, wondering about the emptiness of freedom.

 

 

thus in innocence we see the beginning
in passion we see the end
two different names
for one and the same
the one we call dark
the dark beyond dark
the door to all beginnings