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  • Writer's pictureMichael Main

Paths of Spirit: On the Relationship of Narrative to Journey

Updated: Dec 25, 2022

On the path of spirit:

We begin early in life by reading the stories of those we adopt as ones we come to intuit to be fellow travelers : over time, inevitably we feel some anxiety, some resentment, some antagonism toward these stories, these intimate accounts arising from, after all, the agency of "the other", and so the next step is to create our own stories of the journey of spirit : for the longest time (and, for most of us, for most of our lives) we adhere to, modify, and adapt these power-centering stories of our own making : but they are merely stories, vehicles to center and accumulate some moderate to threshold degrees of insight and confidence : our own stories are nothing but maps- they may over decades lead us to the outer territories of the realm of spirit and perhaps even across the threshold itself : yet a map is assuredly not the land itself : once we encounter and "become" ourselves the actual experiences which the personalized stories we evolved only hinted at (or, at times, got quite wrong), we see the stories for what they are : we then leave "spiritual" stories and story-making behind, we discover the actual realm, we begin to live there body and soul : and now, when someone sees the light in our eyes, they ask us to tell them how that is, what this is, and how we came to it : but since it is wholly impossible to actually convey the "what" and "where" we have "arrived", we tell the questing person a story, we employ the vast yet ultimately inadequate agency of the metaphoric realm : and thus it is that the initial hiking path of another traveler's journey tentatively begins.

Samuel Palmer, A Cornfield by Moonlight with the Evening Star
British Museum: Samuel Palmer (1805–1881), 'A Cornfield by Moonlight with the Evening Star' : A watercolour with bodycolour and pen and ink.

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