Recently I was talking with a friend about naming one’s medicine. We are so often inundated with current events, to the point our feeds become a recycling bin of hot takes, with less personal voice between. I know the house is on fire, but also strive to reclaim agency toward what helps.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the narrows this summer – this maze of a place where I first learned the difference between being lost and orienteering.
The river does what it wants here, beneath the churches and cornfields above. The flatlands were once a vast rolling forest, leveled by glaciers and crosscut saws, and these channels persist as a deep-time snapshot of all that came before. It’s an odd and disorienting place, an Escher-like wonderland of twisted stone. Early settlers went mad and missing here, unable to parse the terrain, and the area took on a reputation for suicides. Stranger Things was set nearby, and I wonder how much it inspired the upside-down. I hike past whole trees made visible – exposed roots and branches, the truth of a form we think we know. Every tree we see is only half a story. I think about what sustains and what is sustained. I think about what remains hidden. I think about how much I don’t know, always.
These chutes-and-ladders are enacted medicine to me, embodied wayfinding and immersive problem-solving. I’ve never been much for artifice in the things that matter: give me real, give me the body up against the literal earth, give me the wide sky available to nearly anyone regardless of who you believe yourself to be. Give me the grace of feeling small and brief, and the awareness of being prey. Give me the reminder of being animal, a moment’s breath at the quivering exchange of fucking and fighting, this pushpull song of subsumption and redemption. In every direction here is a lesson of integrated growth and rot, bright green and slurried decay. There is no problem or heartache I’ve taken to the narrows and not walked through, returning muddied and at peace in the daylight. This simple act of one foot in front of another, one handhold at a time, has taught me more about life than most anything I know. I’m grateful to remember.